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Goodnight, Burbank

Goodnight, local news

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In 2006, Goodnight Burbank debuted as five-minute news spoofs on the Internet. Now it's a 30-minute sitcom on Hulu--which, incidentally, is becoming a much better way to watch TV than using a TV.

The show stars Sarah Silverman's equally exquisite sister Laura. It depicts the ridiculousness of a local newscast while providing character development through off-air interactions, such as Silverman's tendency to insert Jesus into most conversations.

Few subjects deserve to be satirized and ridiculed as much as local TV news. At least murderers and child molesters seem to have a general idea that what they're up to is wrong, but local TV anchors exist in a weird netherworld of cosmic denial where conceptions of shame and embarrassment have yet to develop. Just look at 'em, sitting there laughing at third-grade puns on teleprompters and pretending high-school sports should be watched.

If you see one in real life, ask it about its job. It'll start talking about the solemn trust and sacred obligations of journalism. If you laugh at it, it'll only hear encouragement to resurrect its desiccated dreams of stand-up comedy and lapse into an awful Christopher Walken impression. Just avoid sudden movements and back away from it slowly.

One of the Burbank reporters captures the requisite insipidity of the gig by saying things like, "I'm here at the Soviet Embassy. Everybody is ... Russian around."

Much of the off-air dialogue and motivations are insufficiently subtle enough to come across as realistic, but it takes time for comedies to find the right voice. Goodnight Burbank should get a chance. It's inexpensively produced, and there's no time-slot competition to worry about on the Internet. Plus, it's much better than actual local news and those travesties never get canceled.