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Series / Great Minds with Dan Harmon

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Great Minds with Dan Harmon is a comedy series that airs as part of The History Channel’s Night Class block. It stars Dan Harmon and his real-life assistant Spencer Crittenden as fictionalized versions of themselves, along with a lineup of guest stars from the comedy world, each of whom plays a different historical figure.

At the start of each episode, Dan Harmon uses a Time Machine built by his assistant Spencer to bring a Historical Figure of the Week back to life. This is generally followed by Dan’s attempts to make great television with said historical figure, which tend to devolve into utter chaos as the episode goes on. Complicating matters is the fact that Dan and Spencer never know who they’re going to get, as well as the short lifespan of anyone transported through the time machine.

Episodes of the series can currently be viewed for free on History’s YouTube channel and website.note 

This show provides examples of:

  • Beleaguered Assistant: Spencer, who constantly gets berated by Dan for the limitations of the time machine he built single-handedly.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: One per episode.
  • Self-Deprecation: Dan shows William Shakespeare an episode of Community that's actually just Dan doing a rather unflattering impression of his own characters. Shakespeare isn't impressed.
  • Tragic One-Shot Character: Every episode and Played for Laughs. Each historical figure undergoes a “total protoplasmic disconversion” and turns into a pile of dust after a few hours of life in the 21st century. Except the Buddha, who achieves transcendence from this plane... and into Whore Smasher III, an expy of GTA. And Ada Lovelace who becomes one with the code.