This year’s On Cinema Oscar Special was a little bit of a surprise. Online speculation led many to believe it wouldn’t happen as Tim Heidecker was on the East Coast leg of the Tim and Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour. Tim actually flew back to LA for one night just to do the Oscar Special this year, which is some serious dedication for a relatively low budget production.
As a huge fan of On Cinema, here’s my top six most outrageous moments during this year’s On Cinema Oscar Special. Watch it yourself online here.
6. Gregg’s appearance as The Joker
To celebrate the new Joker movie, the normally dull, mild-mannered movie buff Gregg dressed up in a full Joker get up. But not as the Joker from the recent 2019 film, instead going with the Jack Nicholson-style Joker from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film.
This is somehow funnier than it should be for those of us familiar with Gregg through his Neil Hamburger alter-ego. The Joker and Neil Hamburger are almost kindred spirits somehow. It probably deserves a higher spot on the list as it was hilarious just seeing Gregg dressed up as the Joker, but the rest of this list kind of depends on this so what am I supposed to do?
What can I say, I’m a slave to the format here.
5. The search for Mark
Mark Proksch was sent to jail last season for a copyright violation involving Gregg’s tapes. Poor Mark hasn’t been seen or heard from since in spite of Gregg’s best efforts.
Tim’s investigator, weapons expert, and conspiracy theorist Michael Matthews (aka “LaRoux”) calls Tim with the happy news he’s located Mark. Sadly, LaRoux shows up with some guy named Steve who happens to look kind of like Mark.
Mark’s celebrity impersonations of W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers have been a staple of On Cinema for years. In a case of mistaken identity, this time someone else “impersonated” Mark.
The search for Mark continues…
4. Tim’s convoluted marriage plan
Although we learned last season Tim married Toni (a juror during his murder trial who became his campaign manager in a failed attempt to unseat the district attorney) Tim felt the marriage ceremony at the local city hall wasn’t “Christian enough.” For the Oscar Special he secretly prepared an annulment which Toni reluctantly signed in order for them to have a proper marriage.
Tim awkwardly tries bonding with Toni’s teenage son Matt despite having little in common. When Tim interviews Toni’s (female) pastor Lewis he keeps starring at her legs and flirting with her. Not exactly off to a good re-start of the marriage.
Perhaps the funniest part of this was Gregg’s toast to the couple, which was just a string of references to Gregg’s favorite films — James Bond and the Oh, God! movies — all of which Tim vehemently hates.
3. The Mobile VFA
Gregg’s Victorville Film Archive (VFA) went mobile in season 11 when he stacked his VHS tapes in the back seat of his car. In the Oscar Special, Gregg drove the car into the studio. This wound up being a safe space for Gregg when Tim started going on his angry rants. Gregg spends a lot of episode in the car, watching from the perspective of a drive-in moviegoer.
Gregg’s finest moment as the Joker occurs when he’s in the Mobile VFA and honks its horn, interrupting Tim’s conversation with Manuel. Tim looks like he’s about to break character and several people off screen are heard laughing. Gregg opens the car door and smugly says “the Joker strikes again!” before turning to the camera to repeat his new catch phrase.
The Mobile VFA also winds up playing a major part in the finale, which we’ll get to in a moment.
2. Gregg’s tribute to Arthur
Despite being dressed up as the Joker, Gregg has a series of segments and a small display set up to preview a tribute to the 39th anniversary of the film Arthur staring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. Although Gregg intended to air a full tribute next year for the 40th anniversary, Tim insists Gregg just get it over with now.
As usual Gregg wasn’t able to find any real celebrities related to Arthur but he did interview an actress who stared in the recent Arthur remake as well as an affordable Dudley Moore impersonator. Both are interviewed in the passenger seat of his Mobile VFA.
1. The carbon monoxide poisoning
Gregg left the Mobile VFA car running in the closed studio, slowly filling it with carbon monoxide. Tim’s wedding dinner meanwhile is staged suspiciously to look like a painting of the last supper with Tim (obviously) as Jesus. Everyone started passing out in their seats or on the floor as several songs play including a remix of Dekkar’s “Empty Bottle.”
After several minutes passed I wondered if this might be the end of On Cinema for good? Fortunately Tim’s bandmate Axiom shows up several minutes later and heroically saves the day.
Many theories abound online about this incident overall. Did the one-handed Axiom from Dekkar single-handedly save everyone from “de car”? Was this the Mobile VFA’s revenge on Tim for destroying Gregg’s previous tape collections? Is it all part of the Joker’s evil plan? There are more questions than answers at this point.
- Tim’s dead son “Tom Cruise Heidecker Jr.” appearing once again in horribly broken CGI form. This was much funnier the first time though it’s still a solid laugh.
- The ongoing saga of catering company Chaplin’s Chili and their confusing ownership structure and name changes. Worse yet they forgot the salmon, although Mr. Chaplin himself insists that he cooked the chicken in a way that makes it taste like fish.
- Gregg’s incredibly boring visit to a Hollywood thrift store that sells costumes used in films. He proudly displays two “priceless ensembles” he purchased for $20, which look like generic men’s clothes you might buy at Wal-Mart.
- Tim ranting about the film Parasite being an actual “parasite” against America, since it’s not an American movie. The fact that clueless pundits unironically made the same point a few hours later somehow makes this predictable political take funnier than it had any right to be.
- Gregg’s “Tribute to the Joker” is a hallucinatory mashup of the Joker’s various movie appearances. It also subtly foreshadows the smoke-filled ending.
For me it was my first time watching an On Cinema Oscar Special in a movie theater. Yes, I know that doesn’t make much sense but Alamo Drafthouse was livestreaming it several locations, including here in San Francisco. I got there a few minutes early. Fortunately an employee wearing a VFA t-shirt spotted my Dekkar t-shirt and let me know they were running a little behind schedule.
On my in I noticed they were patching a MacBook Pro into the theater’s projection system. I was pleasantly surprised it streamed in HD without AdultSwim.com’s notorious lag and glitch problems.
If you can, it’s definitely more fun to see this type of cult comedy special with a room full of people laughing along — people with a sense of humor as weird as your own.