Stella (U.S. TV series)
DVD cover for season one of Stella.
|Created by||Michael Ian Black
|Starring||Michael Ian Black
|Opening theme||Instrumental theme by Craig Wedren|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Michael Ian Black
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||20–22 minutes (approx.)|
|Original network||Comedy Central|
|Original release||June 29, 2005 – August 30, 2005|
Stella was a short-lived television series that originally ran from June 28, 2005 to August 30, 2005 on the American television channel Comedy Central, created by and starring Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain, the three members of the sketch comedy troupe of the same name and former cast members of MTV's The State. Stella, as a comedy troupe, has existed since 1997. It has a cult following and plays to sold out shows across the USA. The show aired on Tuesdays at 10:30 PM, EST.
In September, after 10 episodes, Stella's timeslot was filled by Mind of Mencia. On March 8, 2006, the following message was posted on Stella's official website: "The STELLA series was on Comedy Central last summer. The network has officially decided not to renew it for a second season," thus effectively cancelling the series. The first season DVD was released on September 12, 2006. Episodes have also been available on iTunes and Hulu and some episodes on Joost. Stella premiered in Australia on The Comedy Channel on May 3, 2007.
- Michael Ian Black as Michael Ian Black
- Michael Showalter as Michael Showalter
- David Wain as David Wain
The Girls Downstairs
- Andrea Rosen as Jennifer. In real life, Rosen is Showalter's former roommate.
- Samantha Buck as Amy.
- Heidi Neurauter as Stacy.
In the pilot only, the third roommate was played by Rashida Jones.
- Justin Lord as Various (Co-Op Board President, Company CEO, Don Robinson, Justin Lord)
Stella is an adaptation of the Stella comedy troupe's stage show and short films. The series follows Michael, Michael, and David, three infantile men who always dress in suits, live together in a New York apartment, and apparently have no jobs. The show is a mix of sketch comedy and a sitcom; there is a central plot for each episode and recurring characters, but the show ignores continuity and is often surreal.
The trio made 28 short films between 1998 and 2002, which were shown as part of the live show. The shorts cover various topics such as searching for Santa, mustache growing, pizza eating, and other absurd situations. The group cleaned up much of its material for the show, as much of the humor in the sketches and short films was often derived from taboo or adult topics like necrophilia and dildos.
|No.||Title||Original air date||Production
|1||"Pilot"||June 28, 2005||101|
|The guys are kicked out of their apartment after finally pushing their landlord too far.|
|2||"Campaign"||July 5, 2005||102|
|When Michael Ian Black decides to run for president of the resident's board, David is left on the outs doing menial internship work.|
|3||"Office Party"||July 12, 2005||105|
|The guys get invited to one of their neighbors' office party and run afoul of a couple of stereotypical office jerks. They plot their revenge at the next company picnic.|
|4||"Coffee Shop"||July 19, 2005||103|
|When the girls downstairs have a fight, the guys tell them the story of the time their friendship was almost destroyed by their competing coffee shop jobs.|
|5||"Paper Route"||July 26, 2005||104|
|After running over the paperboy, Kevin O'Malley, the guys take over his paper route, but get discouraged after getting beaten up by bullies. They set out to teach the bullies about the power of friendship.|
|6||"Meeting Girls"||August 2, 2005||107|
|The guys dance in a bar and become popular. While they are there, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter get dates and David does not. Problems ensue, and soon, Michael and Michael move out, and David is forced to replace them with new roommates as they begin their lives with their new significant others. David's new roommate Jeremy in this episode is played by Josh Charles, Michael Ian Black's girlfriend Tamara is played by Elizabeth Banks, and a scene from this episode was filmed at Alfred Lerner Hall.|
|7||"Camping"||August 9, 2005||106|
|Tired of working, the guys take a vacation to the forest, where they quickly get lost.|
|8||"Novel"||August 16, 2005||108|
|Inspired by famous author Jane Burroughs (who is played by Janeane Garofalo), the trio tries their hand at writing. They show their manuscript to Jane, who steals it, with the intention of publishing it under her own name.|
|9||"Vegetables"||August 23, 2005||109|
|The guys decide to grow their own vegetables on their apartment floor to save money.|
|10||"Amusement Park"||August 30, 2005||110|
|The guys are excited to go on a trip to the amusement park to alleviate their irritation with each other, but the trip is ruined by rainy weather. The girls downstairs recommend visiting a psychiatrist, who commits them after they have a fight in his office.|
Stella is riddled with allusions to the creators' earlier works. The most prominent of these are to the movie Wet Hot American Summer. Some of these include:
- The appearance of Janeane Garofalo (Beth), Paul Rudd (Andy), Elizabeth Banks (Lindsay), Zak Orth (J.J.), A.D. Miles (Gary), Joe Lo Truglio (Neil) and Ken Marino (Victor).
- The song "Higher and Higher" by Theodore Shapiro and Craig Wedren in the episode "Office Party."
- The sign behind Michael Black's coffee stand in "Coffee Shop" reads "Gene's Two Way Radio", a reference to the character Gene in Wet Hot American Summer.
- In the episode "Novel", there is a direct recreation of dialogue between the camp director Beth and Professor Newman from Wet Hot American Summer.
- In the episode "Meeting Girls" Black says to a man in the bar, "Hi, I'm Michael Ian Black. I love the '80s!" in reference to his appearance on the VH1 television program.
Although the series lasted only one season, the trio had been working together honing their act for years (through the live show and the original, more vulgar Stella short films). As such, by the time the TV show came to be, the trio had a strong sense of who the 'characters' were and a unique comic sensibility.
Recurring elements in the show include:
- The trio shouting "yay!" in unison any time something good happens (inversely, they "boo" in unison when something bad happens).
- Group discussions about God (Showalter often offers that God could be "a table or a leaf" etc.)
- The trio singing "who is it?" in unison whenever somebody rings the doorbell.
- Using fake moustaches, usually as a means of disguise. (see the "Pilot", "Office Party" and "Meeting Girls" episodes)
- Mention of "Marcus", a person whom none of them actually know.
- David Wain being the "odd man out" of the trio, as the two Michaels exclude him. (See the "Election", "Meeting Girls" and "Novel" episodes). This happens in all of their live performances.
- Michael Showalter being the "emotional" one of the group, often overreacting to situations.
- Michael Showalter saying "We don't have... this money." or "What I did was wrong and I'll be the first to admit it."
- Absurd time frames. The group often changes in extreme manners over a short period of time, such as full grown beards or strong relationship bonds. Very often this is hidden until someone brings up the point that something happened "just two days ago!"
- David Wain being the Casanova of the three, attracting and making out with different women at a moment's notice (See "Pilot", "Camping Trip" and "Coffee Shop" episodes). The one exception is the "Meeting Girls" episode, where only David has no girlfriend. Although, at the end David admits to sleeping with Black's girlfriend
- Michael Ian Black being the evil conniving one of the group, the first to resort to murder and the first to betray one of the friends. He even once coerced David and the other Michael to resort to cannibalism.
- The title screen and theme music appearing abruptly, often contrasting with and interrupting whatever is going on in the scene.
- "The Important Guy" in many episodes, actor Justin Lord appears in a position of power (co-op board president, mayor, music producer, CEO and president of Ultimate Amusement Inc.)
- The three learning a lesson about the importance of friendship.
- Winning awards or prizes at the end of an episode, even if their actions have not been in any way worthy of praise.
- Wearing suits at all times, even in inappropriate situations such as bathing and working out.
- The trio vocally harmonizing (poorly).
- Breaking of the fourth wall, usually by looking directly into the camera.
- Simple camera tricks (e.g. in "Camping" Michael Showalter cracks raw eggs into a frying pan, which is panned offscreen and back on, and meanwhile the pan has been replaced with fully cooked eggs.)
- The three mention Simon & Garfunkel throughout the series, (See "Campaign", "Office Party" and Novel")
- The guys saying, in unison, "We did it! We did it TOGETHER!"
- The guys suddenly breaking into choreographed song or dance numbers.
|DVD Name||Release Date||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Season One||September 12, 2006||10||"History of Stella" documentary, "Comedy Central Presents – Stella", Deleted scenes, Extended takes, Bloopers, Easter eggs (see below).|
The DVD also contains three Easter eggs:
- An unreleased Stella short titled "Bar," featuring H. Jon Benjamin.
- A montage of outtakes from the opening of the "Meeting Girls" episode.
- A reel of Comedy Central's advertisements for the Stella TV show.
- Eliot Glazer (October 11, 2007). "Inside With: Andrea Rosen". The Apiary.
- Collected Stella links
- "Stella: The New Marx Brothers" --Rolling Stone interview
- "A Streetcar Named Hilarious" --The Phat Phree interview
- "Stella" --The Onion interview
- "Stella"—Brian M. Palmer interview
- "Gag Order" --Slate.com article
- Stella: season 1 episodes
- Stella at the Internet Movie Database
- Stella at TV.com