Tuned In

TV Weekend: The Internet and Fat Guys, Together at Last

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Gemberling, before the beer spill of destiny. / ADULT SWIM

Adult Swim’s newest comedy, debuting Sunday night, may not necessarily be the best show of 2008. But it has probably already won the award for best title of 2008. Fat Guy Stuck in Internet, is, like Snakes on a Plane, the kind of it-is-what-it-is title that practically guarantees entertainment, but unlike the much-hyped movie (for which the Internet is also responsible), Fat Guy delivers.

Fat Guy, really, is a comedy of, by and for the Internet. It originated as a web series for video festival / web-video site Channel 102, built up a cult following, then was picked up by Adult Swim in hopes of parlaying that into, well, a bigger cult following. Arrogant computer programmer Ken Gemberling (John Gemberling) is accidentally sucked into his computer when he spills a beer on the keyboard and finds himself trapped in the Internet, befriended by software pals (who believe he is a messiah) and sought by conspiratorial enemies, who send a bounty hunter after him. (The bounty hunter also travels to the Internet by spilling a beer on a keyboard.)

The show is as broad as you might expect from an Adult Swim show (in one episode, Gemberling and friends travel inside a giant’s buttocks on a mission), but it’s also striking-looking—with surreal-on-a-budget cyberspace set-design—and even good-hearted in its own bizarre way. Gemberling starts off as a self-involved jerk, whose selfish antisocial tendencies have been abetted by his talent and the nature of his cyberwork, which allows him to avoid as much as possible interaction with actual people whom he can’t program. Once he’s sucked into the Web, he learns—well, he doesn’t learn a ton over three episodes, but you can tell he’s getting there.

Also, he’s a fat guy stuck in the Internet. Do you really need more persuading than that? Fine. Here you go: