"The Spoils of Babylon" miniseries is "far superior to anything on television today," writer-producer-director-financier Eric Jonrosh says of his "masterpiece."
The bloated blowhard played by Will Ferrell may be overstating things, but "The Spoils of Babylon" (9 p.m. Jan. 9, IFC; 3.5 stars out of 4) is an entertaining and spot-on spoof of the overdone potboiler miniseries of the 1970s and '80s. From the Funny or Die comedy outfit and airing on IFC, the six-part parody ostensibly is the first-time broadcast of a shortened version of Jonrosh's lost, 22-hour miniseries based on his novel about oil and forbidden love in 20th century America.
Supposedly filmed "on premium nitrate non-safety 93 mm Tri-X reversal stock" in Breath-Take-a-Scope and Super-Doctored Clydrophonic Sound, the epic tale follows the ill-fated Morehouse family, beginning with unlucky and poor oilman Jonas Morehouse (Tim Robbins) adopting a boy who chooses the name Devon (Tobey Maguire) and raising him alongside his own daughter, Cynthia (Kristen Wiig).
Cynthia can't keep her hands—or lips—off Devon, eventually driving him into the arms of Lady Anne (voiced by Carey Mulligan), a mannequin he meets while fighting in World War II.
Haley Joel Osment, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer and Michael Sheen also star, and Steve Lawrence performs the soaring theme song.
Who is Steve Lawrence, you ask? Don't worry; just listen to the lyrics and laugh along. Even viewers who aren't familiar with the numerous references to the spoof's intended targets or don't realize that Ferrell, in a padded suit and false beard, is doing a marvelous send-up of Orson Welles at his most pompous and rotund, will find much of "Spoils" amusing.
There's plenty of funny in the miniseries' script, co-written by director Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele with more jokes that hit than miss. And the various sight gags, from cheap miniature sets to Hot Wheels-like toy cars to Halloween-worthy wigs and costumes, had me laughing out loud.
"The end result is nothing less than a masterpiece," Jonrosh says. I'll just add, "of silliness."
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