If you love comedy & documentary film, IFC's Documentary Now! is a must see. Created by Saturday Night Live alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, it's a series of comedic documentaries presented as real, serious films, shown on a fictitious long-running documentary TV program (brilliantly hosted by Dame Helen Mirren).
The second season brings a new batch of mockumentary goodness. Even though comedic, and presented as if they're serious, most episodes are somewhat based on real documentaries. While you don't need to see the originals, familiarity with them can add an extra element of hilarity. In fact while researching this story, I came across an IMDB review of one episode, where I'm not entirely sure the reviewer knew that it was a mock-documentary.
Season 1 was just released and you can get it here:
If you want to get primed before the comedy - here are the original docs many of these are based on.
The first episode of the second season, entitled 'The Bunker' is based on 'The War Room' which follows political strategists James Carville and George Stephanopoulos as they run Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.
Bill Hader, puts in a great performance impersonating Carville.
Episode one from the first season, entitled 'Sandy Passage', following an aging socialite mother and daughter as they reminisce about their youth, was inspired by the ground breaking film 'Grey Gardens' - one of the first to employ the cinéma verite style of documentary filmmaking.
Kunuk Uncovered was based on the 1922 film Nanook Of The North, a study of Eskimo life and one of the earliest documentary films.
One of the more contemporarily inspired, 'Drones: The Hunt For El Chignon' was made in the style of Vice. Jack Black puts in a fantastic cameo as the editor of Vice Magazine in this one as a series of reporters head to Jaurez, Mexico in search of one of the most notorious drug lords. This isn't necessarily based on one film, but rather Vice Magazine's overall style.
'The Eye Doesn't Lie' is tackles 'The Thin Blue Line' which follows a man wrongly convicted of murder while the real killer is free and the broken justice system around it.
'A Town, A Gangster, A Festival' about an Icelandic town that celebrates an Al Capone festival every year, is supposedly based on an 80s doc-series about Hollywood in the 1920s.
The last episode(s) of season one, and possibly my personal favorite of that season, is 'Gentle & Soft: The Story Of The Blue Jean Committee' parts 1 & 2. This one is hilarious in its successful take on 70s soft rock. Based on the film 'History Of The Eagles' it follows the rise and fall of the fictitious Blue Jean Committee'.
At the time of this writing, Season 2 has just started, so not all of the episodes have been announced. One of the next episode 'Juan Likes Rice & Chicken' is a send-up of the classic foodie-doc 'Jiro: Dreams Of Sushi', following 85-year-old, world-renowned sushi master Jiro Onoat at his small restaurant in Japan.
Globesman is an homage to the 1968 documentary film, 'Salesman', which follows the lost occupation of the door-to-door salesman.
The last of the currently announced second season episodes is 'Parker Gail's Location Is Everything' - which in my guess is a take on the late Spalding Gray's 'Swimming To Cambodia'.
I can't wait to see the rest of this season & am excited that they've been renewed for a season 3 already.