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Can 'Drunk History' Be Turned Into a TV Show That Does Its Concept Justice?

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 5, 2012 at 4:54PM

Can 'Drunk History' Be Turned Into a TV Show That Does Its Concept Justice?

John C. Reilly as Nikola Tesla in 'Drunk History vol. 6' John C. Reilly as Nikola Tesla in 'Drunk History vol. 6'
Created by Derek Waters and filmed, edited and directed by Jeremy Konner, "Drunk History" has one of the great viral video concepts -- someone gets spectacularly drunk, and then tries to go into detail about a famous historical event that's reenacted on screen, in costume, flubs and all, with celebrity guests like Michael Cera, Jack Black, Danny McBride, John C. Reilly and others.

Abused historical topics have included Benjamin Franklin and the kite, William Henry Harrison and the friendship between Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass (played by Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle in what ended up winning the short filmmaking jury prize at Sundance in 2010), though my personal favorite, below, breaks from formula for a special holiday mauling of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas":

But today Deadline reported that Comedy Central's ordered a pilot-presentation for "Drunk History Across America," a series produced by the "Drunk History" creators alongside Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Gary Sanchez Prods. This is still very early in the process in terms of the show actually getting made, but it's enough to give you pause -- would a (presumably) half-hour "Drunk History" episode be too much of a tipsy thing?

The great simplicity of the "Drunk History" set-up juxtaposes an already blitzed narrator against staid historical facts -- but the idea of spending more than a few minutes in the company of the completed trashed sounds less fun and more like a tiring night out. According to Deadline, in addition to the reenactments, the show "will also include some travel elements and interviews with city locals who will drunkenly narrate local and personal history which, too, will be re-enacted by guest actors."

Web series have become a testing ground for ideas that have become series -- for a high-profile example, look to Lisa Kudrow's "Web Therapy" on Showtime -- but not all concepts can make the transition. If this series comes into being, here's hoping it can capture the boozily earnest charm of the originals, and if not, let's spare a moment in appreciation for things that are perfectly suited to the short form.

In addition to "Drunk History," Waters also produced the Christian skateboarder doc "Only the Young," which screened as a sneak preview at this year's True/False Film Festival.

This article is related to: Television, Comedy Central, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Drunk History

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