Quibi, the latest entrant in the Streaming Wars, launches on Monday. And because Quibi stands for “quick bites,” here’s a quick-bite review of one Quibi’s quick bites.
“Warning: You are about to enter the Memory Hole,” an unseen narrator intones. Don’t worry, you don’t need to switch your browser to incognito mode—that’s just the name of this quizzical Quibi comedy series. Created by Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj writer Scott Vrooman and hosted by Will Arnett, Memory Hole is here to remind you of (or introduce you to) cringeworthy pop culture moments from decades past. For this season, the main focus is Canadian cultural mishaps; Arnett is from Toronto, so it’s possible that Memory Hole will switch hosts for future installments.
The first three episodes focus on awkward professional sports team raps (shout-out “Red Hot” by the Calgary Flames), the calamitous opening celebration of Toronto’s SkyDome (now called the Rogers Centre), and the so-bad-it’s-good karate movies Fearless Tiger and Gymkata. (Gymkata is actually an American creation, which the show acknowledges, but I’m not here to pick nits.) The source material lives up to Memory Hole’s mission—the SkyDome schadenfreude is especially funny, and something I wasn’t all too familiar with.
But the jokes are hit-and-miss—for example, Arnett’s description of Gymkata star/former professional gymnast Kurt Thomas as someone who “never acted before in his life, and arguably, he still hasn’t,” might still undersell how bad the movie is. And unless the intent was for the series to seem as awkward as the events it’s poking fun at, Arnett seems to be seriously hindered by the lack of a live studio audience or a laugh track. Unfortunately, Memory Hole creates the same surreal effect as late-night hosts doing their shows from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before its next batch of Quick Bites, this hole could use a thorough cleaning.