“Now, more than ever, the world needs Documentary Now!,” says Helen Mirren in a 15-second teaser for the cinéaste spoof series’ 53rd season (which, in our extradiegetic reality, is really only season four). IFC announced the concepts and casts of three upcoming episodes on August 5. The season will kick off with the two-parter “Soldier of Illusion,” a Werner Herzog parody written by John Mulaney and starring Alexander Skarsgård as a German documentarian in the early 1980s trying to “will his magnum opus into existence while working in the remote, punishing conditions of the Russian Ular mountains.”
Mulaney previously announced this episode on Late Night With Seth Meyers, describing how, in place of Fitzcarraldo’s steamship, the episode will focus on the director trying to “fly in a studio audience from Van Nuys, California,” to film a CBS multicam. The other newly announced title is “Trouver Frisson,” an homage to Agnès Varda films like The Gleaners and I and The Beaches of Agnès, starring Call My Agent!’s Liliane Rovère as “celebrated French filmmaker Ida Leos” as she “searches for why she no longer experiences ‘frisson.’” The other three episodes that have previously been announced for this season include “My Monkey Grifter,” a My Octopus Teacher riff starring Jamie Demetriou, whose comedic persona is already “this man could definitely be outwitted by a monkey”; “Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport,” a fusion of The September Issue and Three Salons at the Seaside starring Cate Blanchett in her grand Documentary Now! return; and “How They Threw Rocks,” a quirky sports doc chock-full of Welsh icons including Jonathan Pryce, John Rhys-Davies, and Tom Jones. Those last three were all written by Seth Meyers, who helms the series along with Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Rhys Thomas. Documentary Now! season 53 premieres on IFC and AMC+ on Wednesday, October 19, at 10 p.m.