If you’ve found yourself awake in front of the TV at 4 AM, you know selection is limited to infomercials and reruns of “Mad About You.” But if you happened to flip over to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim at 4 AM any day last week, you were treated to the most unhinged ode to 80s sitcom intros of all time.
The ode in question, an 11-minute surrealist trip called “Too Many Cooks,” begins as a straight-up parody of a million family sitcoms you’ve seen before — the smiling faces on “Family Matters,” the cheesy rock of “Step By Step,” the cute children of “Full House” — but it keeps going. And then it becomes a parody of ’80s cop procedurals, and then ’80s cartoons. And then about 5 minutes in, it just goes off the damn rails.
As it turns out, Adult Swim has been airing weird experimental shorts like “Too Many Cooks” at 4 AM for awhile, as part of an ongoing series called “Off the Air.” The short’s creator, Casper Kelly, had another, arguably stranger sketch called “Worship” air in the same time slot, while another sketch group aired a parody of the University of Phoenix-style infomercials that air on the adjoining channels called “For-Profit University.”
Saying that “Too Many Cooks” is the best absurdist parody of 80s sitcoms may sound like damning it with faint praise, but Kelly had to compete with the likes of Scott Gairdner and Fatal Farm, whose deranged takes on the genre warrant inclusion as well.
These almost put Tim and Eric’s Totinos Pizza Rolls ad to shame. Almost.