Just because it’s a documentary doesn’t mean it can’t be funny

While I’m waiting on my copy of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” to arrive, I got to thinking about some of the other it’s-funny-’cause-it’s-true documentaries I’ve seen over the years…and here’s one that’s an absolute classic. I think the concept has been used in a couple of sitcoms, but this is reality…and it’s hilarious.


  

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3-D Movies Are For The Rich

The kiddies may get a kick out of ’em, but 3-D flicks such as “Shark Boy And Lava Girl” just don’t work much magic on a normal-sized TV screen. Unless, of course, you’re sitting five inches away from the screen with nothing to distract you, 3-D just doesn’t work too well when you’re in your living room surrounded by furniture, toys, empty pizza boxes, and the rest. Surely this is something that works to a much greater effect on a widescreen box. And even then, I’m not sure. Truly, the thrill of 3-D is being hit with those images on a giant screen in the dark theatre.

I will say that my fave 3-D feature is “The Mask,” a godawful b-movie horror romp that seems like it was half-written on some bad acid. The story sucks, and the non 3-D bits are rather dull, but boy when that movie demands , “PUT THE MASK ON NOW,” you’re really whisked away to some surreal crap that scared the bejesus out of me the first time I ever saw it as a kid on TV (the local McDonald’s was handing out the 3-D glasses as advertised in the local newsrag if I recall correctly). I have a copy of it with glasses on an old Rhino-issued VHS tape with Elvira hosting. By the way, is it OK if I never found her sexy in the least bit?

  

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“The Greatest American Hero” & The Power of DVD

I’ve really been enjoying being able to watch “The Greatest American Hero” again thanks to good old DVD. Lots of genuinely funny moment between the Ralph Hinckley and Bill Maxwell characters (the Hinckley character’s name was briefly changed to “Hanley” for an episode or two after John Hinckley did his wicked little trick), and Connie Sellica never looked hotter. Definitely up there on my list of all-time TV babes (though why she decided to shack up with John Tesh in anyone’s guess). The series is one of Stephen Cannell’s finest creations, even though there was a planned “Greatest American Heroine” spinoff that thankfully never aired, but whose pilot can be seen on the first season of “GAH.”

The real beauty here, though, is checking out William Katt’s stunt double. And really, this could have only happened with the glorious DVD pause and frame advance buttons. Sure, you may have been able to pull it off on some VCRs, but for full-on clairty nothing’s gonna beat the DVD. Anyway, anytime Katt takes off into the air (sometimes even when he’s running to take off), the stunt double comes in. The people who made this show obviously never dreamed that such things as DVDs would come along years later to really zero in on these things, and therefore they didn’t really seem to care much if the double resembled Katt in any way. The dude is much bulkier for one thing. I mean, he really fills out that supersuit in ways Katt never could. Then there’s the killer Harpo Marx wig the guy is wearing. Totally out of whack, and wooly as hell, this thing hardly looks like even a wig, let alone real hair, it’s that bad. I tell you, I’ve had as much fun just frame advancing the stunt double’s moments on screen as I have watching the episodes themselves. Some good unintended hilarity if ever there was some.

Come back Connie, I forgive you.

  

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Brendon Small and his “Home Movies”

Of all the animated shows on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, the one that’s managed to fly almost completely under the radar – despite being one of the funniest series in recent years – is “Home Movies.” The show’s lead character is eight year old Brendon Small…who is voiced, in what can only be described as an eerie coincidence, by a very funny man who’s also named Brendon Small. “Home Movies” has, season by season, eased its way onto DVD thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory. Small took some time to chat with Bullz-Eye about his time at the Berklee College of Music, how the improv nature of “Home Movies” sent many an editor to an early grave, and what’s going on in his life these days. Here’s a clip.

Bullz-Eye: So, getting back to “Home Movies,” you first met up Loren Bouchard when he was working on “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” on Comedy Central.

Brendon Small: Yeah. “Dr. Katz” was kind of wrapping up – I think everyone was kind of ready to let it go, they’d done 4 or 5 seasons, maybe 6 – and that was kind of winding down. And Loren had the opportunity to produce his own show. And I was in the right place at the right time. The odds of getting a show on the air are about a billion, jillion to one, and, luckily, we got one on the air. And that was on UPN, during what I call The Cartoon Boom of ’99, where, like, “Family Guy” came out and all that stuff…a bunch of shows that went away. But we snuck over to Adult Swim (on Cartoon Network) and kept our heads down and nobody noticed us and we got to do four seasons without anybody kind of noticing anything. And we were, like, “They keep on ordering seasons! I don’t know what we’re doing, but somebody likes it!”

BE: Was it hard to get into the mindset of playing an 8 year old…or was it, in fact, surprisingly easy?

BS: You know, it was easy because I didn’t play him as an 8 year old. I think that, in the first few episodes, it was a little bit cutesier. And I was ashamed of that. So I wanted to not play him as cutesy, because that made me sick to my stomach. But it wasn’t difficult. The hard part with me and Bill Braudis when we were writing for “Home Movies” was trying to figure out what to do with Brendon, because we would have to put the story on his back for the most part, and he was kind of a straight man for McGuirk, but we found that we could make him funny and stuff. So, basically, our M.O. was to make him a wise-ass. Always. It’ll be easy. It’ll be fun. And I’ll just play him as whatever age I am at the time, as a wise-ass. Which is kind of what I am, anyway, so it’s incredibly easy.

BE: The feel of the show…the improv feel of the show…is decidedly unique compared to other animated series. How did that come about?

BS: Those are techniques borrowed from “Dr. Katz.” So Loren, being a writer and producer on “Dr. Katz,” brought his know-how from that, and we all kind of tried to make that work for a different show, with more of an ensemble feel, a lot more action, and just trying to tighten up the screws and make it go a little bit faster than Dr. Katz. So that was the whole thing. Dr. Katz used a script, but, when given the opportunity, they would choose improv over the script…though I recall the scripts being terribly funny. Doing a 22-minute episode, we wanted to just make sure that we had a lot of funny jokes there, just in case we weren’t feeling that funny, or we were hung over and couldn’t think that quickly, so we wanted to make sure we had a solid script to work off of…but we also wanted to be able to preserve the conversationalisms that we liked about Dr. Katz during those early seasons of “Home Movies”. So I think you’ll see that come together a little bit more during Season 3. And the ratios of improv versus script are always different…sometimes 70/30, sometimes 50/50…

Click here to read the rest of the interview with Brendon Small.

  

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So long, “Threshold”…? (And good riddance, “Night Stalker”…!)

Over at The Futon Critic, it’s being reported that production has stopped on “Threshold,” CBS’s entry into the ever-growing field of sci-fi drama. Good lord, America, have mercy on this great show! I mean, the cast includes Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton, Peter Dinklage, and Brent Spiner, for God’s sake; you’ve got a sexy woman, a well-respected character actor, a sci-fi legend, and, um, Peter Dinklage. (Actually, he’s such a good actor and so funny that, when the camera isn’t focusing on his height, you can totally forget that he’s vertically challenged…)

Meanwhile, good riddance to bad rubbish with “The Night Stalker” being cancelled. Stay tuned to Bullz-Eye.com for the review of the original version of the show on DVD, but, trust me, you didn’t miss anything with this new version. It might’ve been okay in and of itself, but it bore so little resemblance to the Darren McGavin version that it might as well have been called something else altogether. All it really did was borrow a title and some character names…and that’s really about it.

  

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