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Stella: A Reassessment

The one-season Comedy Central series, now on DVD, had its hits and misses.

Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain.

With the release of the first and only season of the “Stella” series from former State members Michael Showalter, David Wain and Michael Ian Black on DVD, it’s time to look at what was good about this show, yet why it wasn’t quite good enough to be picked up by Comedy Central for another season.

A few other State members went on to create the much more successful series Reno 911, and without their abilities to focus ideas and cut out parts that drift, the members of Stella get a little too experimental for their own good.

Stella’s running jokes were always subtle -- first, the obvious -- the three players are always in suits, live together and always do everything together. But Showalter, Wain and Black also have running gags in the series that are a little harder to catch, such as a brief “yay” by all three when something goes their way, as well as a penchant for woefully underdone disguises to remedy something or get what they want, that are quickly seen through.

The coffee shop episode in the series actually worked particularly well, making the absurdities plausible, as Showalter gets a job as a barista and a jealous Black sets up a card table across the street to sell coffee that he actually gets by running into the coffee shop -- but the flip side, in the very next episode, in which the guys fill in for a paperboy they injured, flails around with the guys getting terrorized by bullies and trying to impress them with a (purposely?) lame rap.

This can be a matter of your taste for Stella’s style, but all in all, the scattershot, unrestrained manner in which they follow their sometimes misguided muses, made “Stella” an uneven series in the end. The only surprise may be which episodes you like and which you don’t.

However, overall, on a second viewing, Stella seems like it can bear repeated viewings, and that might eventually get it the same cult status as the State group now has.

Click to purchase Stella - Season One



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