Channel 101 New York‘s short, Mister Glasses, is built on the idea that modernist architecture, and the pronunciation of that phrase, is inherently funny. It is, at least the first few times you hear it, and the structural integrity of the joke doesn’t degrade too much as the show goes on.
Played by writer and director Mitch Magee, the keystone of the series is ‘Mister Glasses’ – a stoic caricature from a Truman Capote New York; an enlightened modernist architect by trade with an unidentifiable European accent and a dash of Kermit the Frog.
Its simple, b&w, ’50s stylized look is seamless down to every minimalist detail. With an American sitcom noir facade, non sequitur and arbitrary make up the foundation of the funny, buttressed by well-placed narration, methodical interactions, and Art History 101 humor.The supporting characters – Kitty, Hard Hat and Sean – add to the absurd. They’re two-dimensional archetypes based on sidekicks from classic American television that rely on gimmicky gestures and various oldschool Dennis the Menace “Oh boy!” exclamations to convey their character traits.
With those types of supporting roles and an emotionally void, intellectually stringent protagonist, the first couple episodes of the series run low on pathos, but high on laughs. You don’t necessarily care about the characters, but you like them anyway.
But come the third and fourth installments – where Mr. Glasses reflects on his own creation myth and he and Kitty contemplate zen koans (which sounds hysterical when they say it) and their relationship on an isolated beach – you get drawn a little deeper into the story. The departure from earlier office scenes makes the oddness of these moments even more enjoyable, and despite Mr. Glasses dry tones and pragmatic approach, you may even start to empathize.