"Accurate, hard-hitting, with over a century of broadcasting experience, 407 channels, 9 billion viewers across 811 countries and cameras watching 80% of the world's population, The Onion News Network is: news without mercy."
Yes my friends, if you are a lover of humorous faux news than you surely are a fan of The Onion. If that beloved publication has been your go-to source for the reality of our world as reflected through a fractured pane of humor, then rejoice: The Onion continues its evolution today, from print to web and now web to TV screens everywhere.
Tonight at 10pm EST/PT you can catch the launch of the Onion News Network on IFC. Led by virile anchor Brooke Alvarez and co-led by her dainty co-host/touch-screen monitor expert, Tucker Hope, The Onion News Network (ONN) hopes to invade your television sets and reclaim the title of "Bestest Satrical News Show Ever" from such usurpers as The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Expect to see blood on the news room floor.
While the Titan-esque team of Alvarez/Hope run FactZone, ONN's hard-hittingest news program, other sub-shows will also be offered by the weekly 24-hour news satire network. For instance, early birds can catch co-hosts Tracy Gill and Jim Haggerty starting America's morning off with lethal doses of pep on Today Now!; "raven-haired fact machine" Andrea Bennett holds down the ONN newsroom; former nervous breakdown sufferer Jean Anne Whorton hosts the news magazine program Beyond The Facts; political intrigue ensues with senior White House spy/correspondent Jane Carmichael; reports from the field come courtesy of Brian Scott, host of the Internet news show Brian Scott's Internet News Show; we get our fix of left/right/middle talking head mania from FactZone "first responder" panelists like Duncan Birch and Nanch Fichander; and news you actually care about is provided by local Onion News affiliate, WONN5. If there is a better team of fascistic news people out there, the CIA had to neutralize them long ago.
As head anchor Brooke Alvarez told me personally: "The insanity has always been in news/journalism, we are simply capitalizing on it."
As you have likely come to expect from this brand, The Onion News Network's TV show is wonderfully demented and hilarious. In the first episode alone there are a multitude of eye-popping "headlines" to get your belly rolling with laughter. The stories (complete with segue skits) encompass the following:
- Teenage White Girl in Detroit Tried as a Black Adult in a School Stabbing Case.
- Kim Jon-il willing to suspend North Korean Nuclear Program for role in Chris Nolan's Dark Knight Rises.
- Continuous coverage about an attractive ONN reporter held hostage by the Taliban who is being denied vital makeup and cosmetics.
- A Today Now! interview with a boring young girl who tragically survived a fire that claimed the life her firefighter rescuer.
- 24/7 media stalking coverage of a history teacher who dared point out an ONN reporting error.
- A new California initiative that requires sex offenders to wear cutoff jean shorts, white tanktops and lightly-colored aviator glasses while in public.
- The Joe Biden band playing at the 2011 Super Bowl.
- Political analysis of Americans' morbid desire to vote Sarah Palin into the White House in order to "see what would what happen."
- A story in small town Illinois about a perfectly good car tire that was left behind a local Kroger's.
- Suri Cruise barely escaping an attack by yet another assassin from the future.
- A "Today In History" segment on the invention of the handjob (with a very special celebrity cameo).
If one or more of those headlines don't make you laugh out loud, you may want to check your pulse.
Though it's the team of scathingly funny writers supplying the headlines and jokes, the ONN's team of faux news correspondents are a pretty witty bunch. Alvarez nails the role of a news anchor diva perfectly, tossing out egotistical asides about her own greatness and ego-piercing insults about her co-workers with equal aplomb. Tucker Hope plays the dogged sidekick unflinchingly straight, while Today Now! co-hosts Gill and Haggerty nail the overly-perky demeanors and inane "journalistic talents" of just about every morning show host that ever was. All in all, a solid cast of satirists who aren't too hard on the eyes, either.
While these first few episodes of ONN do inspire more laughs (for me at least) than your average Daily Show episode, there are still a couple of questions in regards to this show's chances at longevity:
- Will viewers stay in engaged for 30-minute stints of what is essentially non-news?
- Can this show, which is much more on the side of comedy than news, have same cultural influence as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?
- Do enough people even get IFC to turn this show into a ratings hit?
The Onion's real strength (in my opinion) has always been the ability to deliver big humor in small doses. People could read an article here, an article there, derive maximum pleasure from the absurdist humor being offered and then go about their regularly scheduled business. A weekly half-hour news show definitely runs the danger of providing too much of a very good thing.
That ominous warning aside, upcoming episodes of ONN will feature some great material, including "Snowlocaust", "Man-Horse Marriage", the military court trial of a predator drone plane, coverage of the President Obama kidnapping, and an examination of "The Real America". A a BONUS, check out a preview of "Snowlocaust" below:
The Onion News Network TV show premieres tonight, January 21, 2011 @ 10pm ET/PT on IFC. Let us know what you thought of the show once you've had a chance to see it, or spew your thoughts across Twitter: @screenrant.