The 15 Best Shows Within a TV Show

Don’t know how you feel about them, but we at TVWriter™ love TV shows within TV shows. There’s something about the absolute falsity of such a situation that drives LB wild with delight, and a delighted LB is, well, he’s a much easier boss to work for, if you know what we mean.

Anyway, we don’t know how we missed this article when it came out way back in August, but here’s a look at some great shows that aren’t really shows or are they:

LB’S NOTE: A quick heads-up. The pic we’re using to illustrate this article is of a show within a show that placed 13th with Paste Magazine but has been, from the moment I first saw it on Community, absolutely numero uno with me – Travis Richey’s Inspector Spacetime. So:

Inspector Spacetime with the original cast

by Amy Amatangelo and Paste TV Writers

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you love watching TV. And guess what? Your favorite TV characters love watching TV, too. One of TV’s most delightful inside jokes comes in the form of the show-with-in-a-show: the faux comedy, drama or reality program that plays in the background as the characters continue on with their lives. The show that they just can’t stop talking about and gather around to watch.

These embedded wink-winks—including the most recent, Kev’Yn, a Martin-inspired sitcom revival that appears in the new season of Insecure—are a way for showrunners to slyly communicate with the audience, respond to viewer criticism, or comment on a particular aspect of pop-culture or the television industry. Sometimes they’re just trying to make us laugh.

Here are our 15 favorite shows within a show. Note: This list includes only shows the characters watch, not fictional shows the characters star in—so no TGS from 30 Rock or Seeing Red from The Comeback (sorry, Valerie!) You’ll have to keep an eye out for those on our upcoming list of the best backstage TV shows.

15. Vidas del Fuego
Show: Ugly Betty

The ABC dramedy was itself based on the popular Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea, so it made total sense that Betty (America Ferrera) and the rest of the Suarez clan would be hooked on Vidas del Fuego, which centered on a pregnant maid who is having an affair with her priest and a stepmother seducing her stepson in order to get control of the family fortune. A telenovela inside a telenovela is the TV version of those Russian nesting dolls, and it was perfect. In a forward-thinking move at the time (this was back in 2006), ABC even offered weekly webisodes of Vidas del Fuego. We’re sorry/not sorry we watched. —Amy Amatangelo

14. The Terrence and Phillip Show
Show: South Park

If South Park was knocked for its elementary animation and immature humor, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker doubled down with The Terrence and Phillip Show, which makes South Park seem like something from Studio Ghibli by comparison. The crass Canadian stick figures are to the parents of South Park, Colo., what Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are to the real-world parents who write off South Park as an obscene waste of time. After 21 seasons, Stone and Parker have explored the world behind the show within the show to the point that Sir Phillip Niles Argyle and Sir Terrance Henry Stoot have gone from two kids yelling “You FAH-ted!” to Buddhist monks and Nobel Peace Prize winners. So there’s hope for Cartman yet. —Josh Jackson

13. Inspector Spacetime
Show: Community

Inspector Spacetime with some other guys (per PasteMagazine.Com)

The incredibly British and incredibly fake Doctor Who parody Inspector Spacetime helped strengthen Community’s most affecting friendship. Though Abed (Danny Pudi) learned of the show from Britta (Gillian Jacobs), it’s through Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed’s appreciation of the multi-incarnate (and sometimes very sexy) time-and-space traveling Inspector that the show within the show found its place in the tightknit group of friends. Fighting cybernetic Blorgons with a Quantum Spanner is one thing, but providing a specific interior fandom for a show that spawned a cultish fandom of its own made two of its characters even more relatable to Community viewers. Plus, the “Inspector Spacetime Christmas Special” is a hilarious jab at Star Wars inside of a larger stab at Doctor Who. No geeky sci-fi property is safe. —Jacob Oller

Read it all at Pastemagazine.Com

“Are You Still Working on ‘The Inspector’ Movie?”

Yo, Community fans!

Remember Inspector Spacetime, the show within a show created by and starring Travis Richey? A clever Doctor Who parody, it became a very hip and trendy hipster cult obsession for awhile, and it’s still around on YouTube in various forms, including several that have nothing to do with Community because Travis, like, owns this motherfucker, see?

We admit that we are among the aficionados who miss the show and have always hoped it would come back, which is why we so happy to receive the following message from the Travster (and hope you are too):

Don’t Lose This Link to The Inspector

Or this one

Did we already post this one?

What about this?

Peer Production: DOCTOR WHO Comic Writer is Writing New INSPECTOR Comic

InspectorComicWriterTonyLeeby Travis Richey

Greetings, Inspectators!

It’s been quite a week after our big movie news! Seeing the press response, doing interviews, and spending every spare hour at the computer running the pre-production fundraising campaign. The campaign is going well, but we still NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Even $5 helps, and if you visit the campaign, we have a way you can win free perks even if you don’t have a lot of spare moolah!

But there was at least one big announcement that flew under the radar last weekend! The intrepid space traveler who also travels through time is not only fleeing through the web series and the feature film, but is now fleeing into comic books thanks to the help of The New York Times bestselling author and comic book writer, Tony Lee!!

Tony has written for X-Men, Spider Man, Superboy, Starship Troopers, Wallace & Gromit and Shrek, and received worldwide acclaim for his scripting of the adventures of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors of Doctor Who for IDW Publishing.

“[About two years ago] I said wouldn’t it be nice to do a comic about a space traveler who could travel through time and if you were going to do it, wouldn’t it be nice if I did it?” said Lee during the Inspector Spacetime panel at the Gallifrey One convention this last February.

Then, Tony made a pronouncement that even the rest of the panelists weren’t completely expecting, when he said, ”Hi my name is Tony Lee, and I’m the writer of the ‘Untitled Comic About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time’.”

His announcement was met with a thunderous applause.

Travis Richey (“Pretty Little Liars”, “Community”) who serves as Executive Producer and star for “The Inspector Chronicles”, said he was excited to have Lee in the Inspector’s universe. ”Tony is a huge part of the Inspector fandom, having been responsible for the very first Inspector Spacetime panel at Chicago TARDIS in November of 2011! He’s a first-class writer and we are absolutely honored and thrilled to have him on board the series!” said Richey.

Richey said that Lee will give the Inspector a presence in another medium. ”We have so many comic book fans who have helped get our series off the ground that being able to share the Inspector’s adventures in the world of comic books makes a great deal of sense,” Richey said. “Especially since there are no budgetary constraints to storytelling in comics, like there are in a web series or a movie. We can go far beyond what we would otherwise be capable of!”

Lee joins the franchise along with a group of established names such as Sylvestor McCoy (“Doctor Who”, The Hobbit movies), Robert Picardo (“Star Trek: Voyager”), Chase Masterson (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) and Mayim Bialik (“Big Bang Theory”, “Blossom”).

“Inspector fans will not be disappointed,” said Richey.

We’re thrilled to be bringing this to you, and we can’t wait to get started! But, until then:

  • And join us on Facebook for the latest news, giveaways, and TONS of behind-the-scenes content!

Earn perks even if you don’t have any money!!!

We know not every fan has more than $5 to give to the campaign (although we cannot stress this enough, even $5 helps), so we created a couple of perks that are really cool, even at the $5 level.

First, we will send every donor of $5 or more an exclusive Inspector Spacetime ringtone!  And second, you’ll get a link to see the never-before-seen audition tapes for Carrie Keranen’s screen test as Piper Tate!

THEN, when you log in to Indiegogo you’ll get a customized referral link to the campaign!  SHARE THAT LINK and we’ll be able to track how much your referrals give, and the person who refers the most donations will get the perk equal to that amount!

So, if you refer ONE person who gives us $2,000, we’ll give you BOTH an Optic Pocketknife, you’ll BOTH be in the comic book, JOIN us on set in a walk-on role, get all the autographed and swag!  Neat, right??

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic support!!

Peer Production: DOCTOR WHO joins INSPECTOR SPACETIME -for a Movie!

InspectorSpacetimeLogoby Travis Richey

Greetings, Inspectators!

In conjunction with our third standing-room-only panel at Gallifrey One, Siv-Art Productions is proud to announce that the web series that’s been praised by MTV, Entertainment Weekly, Nerdist, the AV Club and the Huffington Post, as well as named “the best of TV on the web” by USA Today, has a brand-new guest star!

The Seventh Doctor himself, SYLVESTER MCCOY (“Doctor Who”, The Hobbit) is joining the guest cast that already includes Robert Picardo (The Doctor in “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Stargate: Atlantis”), Chase Masterson (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), and Mayim Bialik (“Big Bang Theory”, “Blossom”). They’ll all be joining existing cast members Travis Richey (Inspector Spacetime on “Community”), Eric Loya, and Carrie Keranen.

Because of all these incredible casting additions, we’ve decided that instead of a second season of the web series, we’ll be doing a feature-length film! “Untitled Web Series” will now become The Inspector Chronicles: Untitled Motion Picture About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time!! See The Inspector like you’ve never seen him before! See him face villains he’s never faced before! And, of course, see him flee like he has never fleed before! Flown? Flew. Fled. …like he has never fled before!


The film will be directed by acclaimed director Nicholas Acosta and produced by former Director of Development for Marvel Studios, Golan Ramras! Acosta directed the Prequel Episode that was just released for the series, which blew away all expectations about what this creative team could accomplish.

Executive Producer and star Travis Richey (“Pretty Little Liars”, “Community”) had this to say about the series’ latest casting coup: “As a lifelong Doctor Who fan, I was thrilled with the possibility to work with Sylvester McCoy! We’ve been working on this for the last year or so, and I finally got a chance to meet Sylvester in October in London, where we discussed the project over tea. Come on. That’s the kind of thing this small-town kid from Wisconsin never thought he’d be able to say…”

Co-writer and co-star Eric Loya exclaimed, “If the coolest thing I ever did was play a scene opposite Mayim Bialik’s voice, I’d be a happy man. But to get to write for and act with actual Doctor Who and multiple Star Trek alums? I can’t even wrap my brain around this!”

Director Nicholas Acosta (Riddance, Friend Request) couldn’t help geeking out a little bit himself, “Doctor Who and Radagast the Brown with The Inspector? I feel like the universe is going to explode.”

Sylvester McCoy himself commented, “It’s a brilliant piece of work! Marvelous, and I really want to work with The Inspector!”

The film is currently entering the pre-production phase, and is seeking help from fans while we also seek investors. You can help become part of this acclaimed series by pledging as little as $1 here:

Please DONATE if you can! There are some fantastic perks available, which you can view at the link, and of course you’ll have the Inspector’s eternal gratitude! Which, considering he’s an immortal being, “eternal gratitude” is a pretty big deal…

We’re thrilled to be bringing this to you, and we can’t wait to get started! But, until then:

  • And join us on Facebook for the latest news, giveaways, and TONS of behind-the-scenes content!
Thank you so much for your enthusiastic support!!
Travis Richey
     The Inspector

Extreme Peer Production


One of our favorite peer productions is INSPECTOR SPACETIME NOT INSPECTOR SPACETIME UNTITLED WEBSERIES ABOUT A SPACE TRAVELER whatever, Travis Richey’s terrific web series which began its life as a a show-within-a-show on COMMUNITY.

Turns out we at TVWriter™ aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen in love with the charm and execution of this diamond. Turns out Trav’s got fans all over the place.  Lovers of “Inspectrum” are all over the place, from Tumblr to, well, to the Inspector SpaceTime Wiki. For a good time, check out these droll, deadpan masterpieces.