I’m a big fan of obscure summer replacement series (check out THANKS before it goes – not the greatest, but a some laughs).
My favorite of the bunch was “Wish You Were Here,” created by Robert Altman (shows something right there). About a guy who gets a video camera, then is fired from his job and goes off to Europe. He sends videos home to his friends. Excellent storytelling (one episode, he visits his uncle’s home town in eastern Europe and finds the people spitting at the mention of his name; another was a Casablanca parody). Technically clever, too – all the video portions were unedited; all you saw was the camera turning on and off, just like a real video would be. The reactions of the people back home to the stories gave an added dimension.
Another of this type was “Arresting Behavior,” a parody of shows like “Cops.” One nice moment was seeing that one of the character’s wife was having an affair, but the character didn’t know.
And, of course, my absolute favorite obscure TV show – “Once a Hero.” A hilarious parody of superheroes, with some very serious points. Captain Justice travels to the Real World, where he discovers he has no powers. There were a lot of very clever metafictional jokes (Captain Justice, needing a last name for his secret identity, choose “Kent,” the woman reporter being told “Lois Lane you’re not.”).
The sensibility of the show is best demonstrated by the fourth episode (never aired): In it, an actor who played Captain Justice on TV comes to town, and is tired of playing the role and frustrated that people only think of him as Captain Justice. And who did they cast in the part?
You have to like a show with a sensibility like that. However, it finished at the very bottom of the ratings and was gone much too soon.