It has been a strong week for high-concept comedy on television, with last Thursday’s emotionally resonant movie-length finale of Nathan For You and the cathartic conclusion of HBO’s Vice Principals this past weekend. Now Tim Heidecker, Gregg Turkington, and the team behind Adult Swim’s On Cinema have thrown their hat into the ring with a bizarre multi-part TV event. On Cinema, for those who don’t know, is a talk show where Heidecker and Turkington, playing farcical versions of themselves, supposedly discuss and rate the week’s new film releases. Across the show’s nine seasons, the series has built out an intense background mythology, which has intersected in increasingly elaborate ways with that of Heidecker and Turkington’s separate Decker series.
The Heidecker of the On Cinema/Decker universe is a musician dabbling in cock-rock (Dekkar) and EDM (DKR). At a certain point, he also became a budding vape entrepreneur, working with a supposed medical professional Luther Sanchez (aka “Dr. San”) to develop his own vape line, TCH Vape Systems. They also hosted an EDM-heavy music festival, which came complete with an insanely good fake poster, at which they promoted and sold the vape pens. Then came the aftermath: “Dr. San” was not a real doctor, the vape juice was lethal, 20 concertgoers died from inhaling with 150+ more suffering from medical issues and side effects. Dr. San went to prison, but after he committed suicide in his cell, Heidecker, his entrepreneurial partner, was charged with second-degree murder and forced to account for his role in the tragedy.
The proceedings are set to go on for multiple days, but last night, Adult Swim broadcast a near-hour of exceptionally realistic opening statements for the trial. Heidecker, hair slicked and goateed, made imitation defendant-in-the-courtroom grimaces, while Turkington and other On Cinema side players watched somberly in the audience. The defense claim the responsibility for the crimes rests solely with Dr. San, while the prosecutors are pushing the image of Heidecker as a evil super-Billy-McFarland mastermind.
It’s not On Cinema‘s first longform outing–the show does an annual live special during the Oscars–but it’s certainly their most involved stunt to date. You can watch the full proceedings via Adult Swim here, and watch the highlights from the first day and pre-trial coverage below. Tune in at 11pm EST tonight to see Day 2.