If the traditional Christmas meal is a feast, the traditional New Year’s Eve fare is hors d’oeuvres. To that end, this weekend is all about tidbits, the only kind of viewing that fits during a time of both busyness and vacantness, of being both off and on.
Perhaps no medium operates more like devouring a tray of appetizers than immersing oneself in a TikTok channel. To that end, the soapy spoof “Sylvanian Drama” works beautifully in its one-minute chunks but becomes its own slangy mindset after an hour. I first wrote about the series in 2022, and since then my adoration for its deranged perfection has only grown.
In each episode, little flocked animal dolls — you might know them as Calico Critters — enact a sort of “Euphoria” by way of Weird Twitter; one recent episode includes a wizard advising a cow that the purpose of life is “to go on Instagram (and vaping).” Little outrageous thrills abound, and you don’t even need to have the sound on. (You can also watch it on Instagram.)
Just as distinctive but in a completely different vein is “The Mask,” now available on YouTube, a 24-minute short from the comedy auteur Conner O’Malley that follows an aspiring improv comedian from his cemetery job in Illinois through a descent into a conspiracy-fueled crisis in Los Angeles. Satirical horror tragedy is an underpopulated genre, but I’m not sure how else to describe this; it is specific, mesmerizing, strange and just on the edge of realism, like catching something out of the corner of your eye. O’Malley’s other work includes “Joe Pera Talks With You” and “How To With John Wilson,” and while “The Mask” does not share their more sanguine sensibilities, it does share their fascination with the minutiae of personhood and their ability to shade in certain kinds of rarely depicted masculinity.
Let’s call that more of an acquired taste, though. If you want something explicitly ha-ha funny and more appealing to a wider group, the stand-up comedy special “Born on 3rd Base” (on Max), from Gary Gulman, is fantastic. Some comics cultivate intimacy through a relaxed, faux-spitballing casualness, but Gulman has a refined precision, like an opera singer or elite athlete who turns a lifetime of effort into what looks miraculously like effortlessness.
But maybe you just want to graze all day. For something silly, easy and low-commitment, Season 16 of the British panel show “Would I Lie to You?” is now on BritBox. Think Two Truths and a Lie, but dorkier. Seven seasons of the show are on BritBox, and one is on FreeVee, and you can’t really go wrong — but if you must optimize, pick any episode where Bob Mortimer is a guest.