In "Cops Redesign," last week's episode of Portlandia, Fred and Carrie went to great lengths to remind viewers that despite the fact that they're starring on a sketch-comedy show, at heart, they're actually huge music geeks. At times, the sketches felt almost too name-droppy--Krautrock legends Neu! got a shout-out, the Clash's Combat Rock got dissed and Ian MacKaye and Kathleen Hanna were name-checked (by first name only). And to top it off, there were cameos by Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. If you're not the kind of person who sifts through the used record bins at Academy in Williamsburg on Saturday mornings, the barrage of punk/indie references probably went over your head.
Two sketches jumped out from the rest in "Cops Redesign." The cold open was a call-back to the first sketch of the first episode, "The Dream of the '90s Is Alive in Portland." Fred and Carrie gave the song a redux with "The Dream of the 1890s Is Alive in Portland," smartly lampooning the Michael Pollan-inspired, back-to-basics trend that has swept young, white urban communities.
The other sketch that stood out was the stop-motion animation sketch "Rats at the Zero-Packaging Grocery Store." While the jokes in the sketch fell flat, this Fantastic Mr. Fox-tribute was an inspired piece of comedy, and would make Wes Anderson proud; years ago, the writers on Seinfeld said they dreamed of doing a claymation episode, but the network balked at the idea. Here, Fred and Carrie use their creative freedom on Portlandia to take a major risk and stick an animated sketch in the middle of their show. It was a bold move that didn't totally pay off, but it entertained nonetheless:
Download "Cops Redesign" on iTunes here!