If you’re new to the Attention Must Be Paid (AMBP) feature, here’s the deal: when I run across something that I think is great and isn’t getting the props it deserves, I write it up in this space. Unfortunately, AMBP is starting to become a graveyard of canceled projects, including Party Down and Air. Today, we welcome Outsourced.
Outsourced was only on for one season (September 23, 2010 through May 12, 2011) and 22 episodes, but it left an undeniable impression upon my mind. The characters and their stories resonated with me for reasons I can’t explain – but then, well written scripts will do that for ya.
The show follows the adventures of Todd, an American who is sent to India to manage a call center for a mail order novelty company… I know, a fish out of water story is a little cliche, not to mention the fact that the show takes place in a contemporary setting where American jobs are being outsourced overseas and yet people are still buying stuff from mail order catalogs? Whatever – it’s all about the characters and their relationships with each other.
Get Your Head Bobble On
I have to admit, I never thought I’d see a sitcom where they attempted to explain the head bobble… it’s just one of the great things about this show. After working with many people from India and the Middle East, it’s refreshing to see people I know represented on TV fairly accurately.
“Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes neither, sometimes both.”
Yeah, that’s exactly what it means!
Characters are AWESOME!
Initially, I thought I would talk about my favorite characters in this section, but frankly, I love all of the characters on this show – even Rajiv, the assistant manager you’re supposed to hate. He’s deliciously evil, but his motives are pure – he needs to become a manager so he can prove his worth to the family of the woman he loves… they all have great stories like that. Madhuri, who is at first portrayed to be soft spoken and demure has a tremendous singing voice that could take her to places most of us only dream of, but she is happy with her job at the telemarketing company that pays enough to support her family.
I believe Outsourced was not renewed due to NBC’s own bungling – if they hadn’t moved the show’s time slot mid season, I doubt it’s rating would have fallen off so sharply. To expect TV watchers to have such loyalty after barely half a season is asking a lot – particularly the audience that has a hard time choosing between this and The Mentalist. In any case, I just don’t understand how they expected the NBC audience to watch three straight hours of sitcoms – especially since The Office and Parks & Recreation are almost the same show, even sharing some of the same actors.
If you’re new to the Attention Must Be Paid (AMBP) feature, here’s the deal: when I run across something that I think is great and isn’t getting the props it deserves, I write it up in this space.
For two glorious seasons and 20 hilarious episodes, Party Down brought a jaded bit of humanity to the service industry. OK, I’m fawning – but the show is awesome!
Yeah, the show was not renewed for a third season after the 2010 season ended – they were easily able to survive the departure of Jane Lynch halfway though the series (she went to Glee… but I’m not going to complain about that show right now) as she was in a supporting roll, but Adam Scott’s new job on Parks & Recreation pretty much killed it. The show had an amazing cast in Scott and Lynch, who were joined by Ken Marino, Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr and Lizzy Caplan. The fact that they were on Starz gave them the freedom to do or say pretty much anything, but it was really the combination of excellent performances and great writing that mad Party Down an instant favorite for me. The show was primarily written by John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd and directed by Fred Savage (yes, that Fred Savage) and Bryan Gordon.
The show revolves around Party Down Catering and the gigs they get. Each episode takes us on the job with the crew as they serve their client and the client’s guests in various areas in and around Los Angeles. This includes corporate events, private parties, weddings, birthdays and all sorts of celebrations featuring anybody you can possibly imagine: Young Republicans, Porno Stars, Hollywood Producers, Real Estate Scammers… you name it, Party Down has served them.
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Adam Scott plays Henry, an actor who’s given up on his dreams and returned to his old catering job and for all intents and purposes, the show’s star. While Henry acted for many years, he’s primarily remembered for a beer commercial campaign which was strung together with the catch phrase, “Are we having fun yet?” As the series starts, he does his best to pretend he’s not that guy to eventually embrace who he once was. The first time he says the line in character (above) is amazing – watch as he morphs into the character that says the line just before he actually says “Are we having fun yet?” Watch his face! It’s awesome! Later, he says the line in ironic situations, which is also pretty awesome.
Favorite Episode: “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday”
Frankly, every episode of Party Down is great, but Holy Shit, “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday is off the hiz-ookle or whatever. The script readings are awesome.
“Dude, I’m acting.” You’re damn right you are.
Party Down is available on Netflix and DVD. Stop reading this and start watching!
While James Rolfe’s career continues to bring him more opportunities the longer he persists, I still feel that he could use a shout out, and so, it’s time for Attention Must Be Paid, James Rolfe edition… or, in internet vernacular, AMBP: AVGN.
While wandering around the internet, I came across a video on YouTube that delighted me: the series was called, You Know What’s Bullshit? and the episode was called, Temperature. This, I am sure, is one of the greatest things to ever grace the YouTube servers.
“Potatoes are assholes; they’re so unpredictable.”
Has a better sentence ever been uttered? I think not. Potatoes are, in fact, assholes! (Sure, they’re not on corn‘s level, but what vegetable is?)
The Bullshit series is a work of art in itself, from part 1 to part 13. I was stunned with the quality of the writing, camera work and most of all, the superior editing. YouTube has so much fatty waste clogging up its mighty heart that its easy to get stuck in the muck of loathsome dreck, a sea of unedited video with awful pop music poorly mixed in the background, and the Bullshit series was a tremendous breath of fresh air; people really were putting quality video on YouTube. Who knew?
I soon found that I had engorged on the entire “You Know What’s Bullshit?” series (I’m also a big fan of the DVD sticker and DVD collection episodes) and yearned for more. The discovery that there was more ‘bullshit’ to be experienced beyond Temperature was a revelation in itself, but I had no idea what loomed just over the horizon.
The first episode I saw of The Angry Video Game Nerd was his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System. TMNT for the NES is the worst kind of video game; it gave us the opportunity to interact as our favorite genetically altered reptiles, and in the early levels, you see so much promise. Sure, the controls aren’t great, but it’s a fun game… at first. Then it starts to suck, and that’s where James Rolfe comes in.
It sucking fucks, it fucking sucks, it fucking blows, it’s a piece of shit… and I don’t like it.
Agreed, sir. Agreed.
If you were a gamer in the mid to late eighties and onward, then you know how revolutionary Nintendo was for those of us who were used to the classic Atari 2600 (or pretenders like the ColeocoVision), as was the Super Nintendo (I know this is an old debate, but Sega sucked. The Sega Master System and Sega Genesis were inferior pieces of hardware; we can debate game libraries till the cows come home, but when games came out on both systems, Nintendo wins hands down every time… hence Sega makes games for Nintendo now? Figure that one out!), the Nintendo 64, and so on. (I’ll take another quick second to say that for the most part, the Playstation is a load-time-cut-scene-infused paperweight.) That being said, Nintendo had it’s fair share of bad games, whether licensed or not, and The Angry Video Game Nerd is just the man to exorcise the video game demons that haunt our souls from both yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mr. Rolfe’s other efforts, which can be found on his website at Cinemassacre.com. His other series, such as Board James, a partly informational series on Board Games, a convention I assume is going the way of the Polar Bear (his horror movie-esque short on Mr. Bucket is not to missed) or the annual Cinemassacre.com’s Monster Madness, which brings an assortment of monster movies to the forefront every Halloween, and I think any movie fan would enjoy, even if you’re like me and don’t spend much time watching horror, slasher or monster movies.
James Rolfe has taken the comedic review to strange and hilarious new places. Sure, it can be juvenile, profane and even downright disgusting, but that’s what makes it fun. In fact, I particularly enjoyed a long diatribe about how bad a game was involving excrement and… well, other things, after which The Nerd said, “That was foul; I apologize.” It’s over the top, it’s silly and it’s great. It’s also self aware, which may be the most important reason it works so well. The guy does a brilliant job connecting with the audience… maybe its just me, because Mr. Rolfe and I are the same age and from the same part of the country and come from a shared experience, but I think there is something for everyone in Mr. Rolfe’s catalog. Take a look, you’re bound to find something you like.
Unless you can’t tolerate profanity and vulgarity. Then you’re shit out of luck.
If you’re new to the Attention Must Be Paid feature, here’s the deal: when I run across something that I think is great and isn’t getting the props it deserves, I write it up in this space.
Sometimes, we must look beyond our own borders for entertainment, and I understand that to Americans, this might sound crazy – after all, isn’t the USA the capital of TV and Film? We’ve got Hollywood! But in a landscape of network programming still largely dominated by reality shows and unappealing dramas, it’s necessary to call in the Britsh and have Channel 4 hook it up – enter The IT Crowd.
Available here in the good ol’ USA via Netflix streaming, iTunes and broadcast on the IFC network, The IT Crowd is a situation comedy unlike any I’ve seen before. Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd) make up the IT department of Reynholm Industries, which operates out of the building’s basement, out of site and out of mind – accept when they’re needed, of course. The first season has a running gag which entails Roy answering support calls saying, “Hello, IT; have you tried turning it off and on again?” before the person on the other end can say anything. In the second season, Roy answers the phone, “Hello, IT; have you tried – forget it, I’m sick of saying that.”
It’s that kind of show; brilliant in it’s simplicity and yet extravagant in its situations while the dialogue flows with an elegance not yet realized in American comedies. I enjoyed an episode in the third season during which Roy had to tell a woman he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with her; he wanted to do this over the phone, but Jen insisted he do it in person. Roy complained she wore so much eye makeup that when she cried, she looked like The Joker, which was hilariously true. After their boss, Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry) had taken a beating, he too looked a bit like The Joker with his black and blue eyes and bleeding lips. He approached the sobbing woman and asked, “Why so serious?” Again, brilliant – as they say on that side of the pond.
Jen and Roy are both fine characters; Roy’s slacker attitude and t-shirt collection would be easily understood by American audiences, but I have to wonder what middle America would make of Jen. She might be a bit too independent for some of the more conservative folks, but how can you not be on the side of a woman who rejects a man for looking too much like a magician? Very Seinfeldian, but I wonder whether or not Americans are ready for Jen – a sad bit of musing, but I feel a true one.
Moss, on the other hand, is the lovable runt of the litter. How anyone could dislike Moss’ boyish charm (he drinks milk at bars), difficulty with social skills and fantastic fro – no, I reject the idea outright. Moss is the greatest, no one could dislike him. Whether he’s getting harassed by teenagers at the park (he showed them: “I’ve got a flipping gun!”), increasing the vibrating capacity of a cell phone by one hundred times or inventing the most comfortable bra ever, Moss is a lovable force to be reckoned with.
The only bad thing I can say about the IT Crowd is the seasons are too short, with only six episodes to their credit. Happily, the show doesn’t appear to be anywhere near being canceled, and I assume the fourth season will be available here in the US soon.
Check out the IT Crowd – you’ll be glad you did, and maybe it will help you come to appreciate the folks at your office who fix the technology… just a little bit.
I guess NBC really did try to do an American version of the IT Crowd, which included Richard Ayoade. Shockingly enough, this didn’t work out and suffered the same fate as Coupling and Absolutely Fabulous. Maybe Comedy Central will pick up the Channel 4 version at some point. When are American TV Executives going to just give up and import the original show directly? The Office is the exception, not the rule!
Welcome back to the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on Stereo Telescope, an electronic pop band that’s the cat’s pajamas – or whatever the kids are saying these days.
Kurt Schneider and Nikki Dessingue are the duo behind Stereo Telescope, combining their vocals with electronic and traditional instruments. I’d first like to applaud the idea of combining male and female vocals – this isn’t done enough in pop music. (Does Lady Antebellum do this? Whatever.) Secondly, the keyboard effects are hot – that’s an Atari you’re hearing – Atari 2600, I believe. I had corresponded with Kurt in March and he’d mentioned having an Atari, but no games – he was using the synth card for music, and this must be the result. It’s awesome; the layering is great, especially when you listen with headphones. Combine some keys, guitar, and some layered vocals, and you get a rich, powerful sound; that last chorus is hot. I guess that’s a xylophone over the chorus, but whatever it is, it’s awesome.
But enough of my yackin; let’s rock:
Today begins the journey into under appreciated creativity. This feature, Attention Must be Paid, will shine my (however brief and dull) spotlight on something that needs props. Mad props. Today, I’d like to shine the light on House of Mystery.
House of Mystery has been around for a long time, first published under DC Comics and currently under their subsidiary, Vertigo, which will be the subject of today’s Attention Must Be Paid. Beginning in 2008, House of Mystery returned after an absence from the scene since the early eighties, and frankly, they’re kicking ass left and right.
While House of Mystery is always running an A and B story (and even a C story), the book also features framed tales, for the House of Mystery has a house bar, and patrons must pay for their drinks with stories, so you are always guaranteed an extra bit of wackiness. (How awesome would it be if you could pay for your drinks with stories?)
I don’t want to ruin it for you, because it’s worth reading. Sure, it’s a little occult, but the book’s goal isn’t to scare you, if you know what I’m saying – but it might freak you out a bit. Volume 1 is available on Amazon. I highly recommend it.