Last night on Nathan For You, Nathan Fielder narrowly avoided fraud charges for telling customers in a Hollywood souvenir shop they would be extras in a Johnny Depp movie called The Web by actually slapping said movie together. (Sneak peek: ya boy Johnny hacks an asteroid.)
Despite only actually featuring a chopless Johnny Depp impersonator, it's still the best Johnny Depp movie in a decade. There's a Bill Gates impersonator who may or may not have ever used a computer, a flute love theme fit for a Ketchup-Bot, really fast hacking, and a lot of footage of tourists buying souvenirs. It's magic.
The Web's scrappy indie spirit and obvious quality places it squarely among the exalted ranks of other slapdash "hey, let's make a movie!" films-within-TV shows, the 20-piece McNuggets of the televisual world. To celebrate, here's a li'l round-up of some of the luminaries of the genre:
Lethal Weapon 5 (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia)
What the gang's contribution to the Lethal Weapon franchise lacks in budget, it makes up for in blackface, in that the quantity of blackface featured (way too much) way outstrips the budget (basically none). Thrill at stunt doubles needlessly sliding across the hood of a parked car! Chill at Charlie getting run over by a UPS truck! Writhe at Frank Reynolds in a The Room-esque sex scene somehow grosser than Tommy Wiseau's wriggling tubesteak body!
Threat Level Midnight (The Office)
The final cut of Michael Scott's magnum opus was an enormous late-game payoff: five seasons after the employees of Dunder Mifflin first discovered the unfinished pages of Agent Michael Scarn's mission to save the NHL All-Star Game, it was finally brought to the big screen, filtered through the small screen. 11 years in the making and rife with typos, Threat Level Midnight had all the ice skating action audiences didn't know they were begging for, cut with some truly luscious shots of Toby Flenderson's head exploding (move over, Terrence Malick!). Worth the wait.
The Film Festival (Clone High)
Before becoming Hollywood's magic boys with their commercial half-court shots, Lord and Miller cut their film teeth with a trio of short films nestled into their animated teen clone one-season wonder, Clone High. You can see the seeds of 21 Jump Street's perfect bromance in Gandhi and George Washington Carver's Rush Hour riff Black And Tan, The Lego Movie's heroic journey in Abe Lincoln's stirring It Takes A Hero, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs' aching passion (I did not see Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) in Joan of Arc's confession of love, The Truth Wears Sideburns (18:24). While everything else that's ever been canceled is getting brought back to life, Clone High remains the Uncle Ben of the TV world, and that's because we live on a trash planet in a void of death.
Single Female Lawyer (Futurama)
An inspiration to all of us, Single Female Lawyer lives in the city, has lots of sex, and don't need no man. Additionally, she has a varying number of eyes and is entirely beholden to the whims of her murderous alien audience, so she's also very relatable. Single Female Lawyer is a testament, a beacon, signifying for all time that women can have it all if they're just spunky yet vulnerable enough. Lean in, Single Female Lawyer! (I'm aware that Single Female Lawyer is technically a show-within-a-show, but as the series finale, it naturally has a certain cinematic sweep to it.)
Man Getting Hit By Football (The Simpsons)