Monday, April 25, 2016

Is There Too Much TV Sitcom Drama?

Let's face it, we watch sitcoms for a good laugh. These are designed to bring in the laughs and make us forget our troubles. But there are those times during a sitcom where drama can come in to emphasize the scene. Why does this happen, what happen to the day when Abbott and Costello played it completely for laughs, and so did the Three Stooges. Well, perhaps this happened because the sitcom became pretty much what it stands for a situation comedy. In situations drama can come in even if it's just for a fleeting moment.

In the 70s the sitcom MASH along with the ground breaking sitcom All in the Family took the mixture to a new level. Where All in the Family was concerned, they too hard hitting relevant issues of the time yet found a way to mix the comedy into the drama itself. Where MASH was concerned, the first few seasons did seem to play out mostly for laughs but that was like ignoring the elephant in the room, namely the Korean War. There's little funny about war and when the program let the war in it also had to let in the drama. MASH became known as TV's first dramedy which was a combination of drama and comedy. For the program the formula worked, and fans continued watching it.

These days it'd seem that "dramedy" has made a comeback without even trying. There are highly popular programs such as Modern Family, Blackish, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia whom although are classified sitcoms do also contain dramatic moments. These shows also work without the laugh track that can still be found in some sitcoms. Yes, there are viewers who still prefer that half hour sitcoms continue to just before laugh. That's not to say that some aren't Mike and Molly, Two Broke Girls and Last Man Standing do seem to still play it for laughs mostly even if there are a few moments of drama sneaking in. Hey, how can it not these are sitcoms of today. After all, who would of thought the day would come when a sitcom regarding a mother and daughter would exist that has them both battling a substance abuse issue which is the basis now for the sitcom Mom. Yes, this one does have a laugh track but it also has hard hitting issues such as friend dying from an over dose.

Perhaps the thing that has changed the face of the sitcom is the fact that the world continues to evolve. Now a days we can look at a wholesome show such as The Brady Bunch and shake our heads. This program certainly wouldn't make it in the market of today. Yes, maybe some would say that there is now too much drama in sitcoms and that isn't what we watch them for. We watch them to forget our troubles not to be reminded of them. But there is something that makes the shows that don't avoid today's issues so popular maybe for some we want to see these addressed. Maybe we want to see how our favorite characters that we have come to identify with deal with these same issues we have. But take heart if these become too much to bear there are always DVDs of Abbott and Costello or the The Three Stooges to fall back on, these were done for laughs only.

Friday, April 22, 2016

TVSO INTERVIEW: Steve Parker and Jody Wheeler on The Dark Place

Steve Parker and Jody Wheeler crafted a terrific little thriller called The Dark Place  - which you can now find on VOD. The duo are now working on the upcoming horror project WTF!... 
TVSO: How did you both get into producing? Is that a bit of a loaded question? Will we need to stretch that out over 10 questions?
Parker: I produce to get projects to happen.  It’s the best way to get a chance to edit and direct, especially narrative features.
Jody: How does the adage go? If you want something done right you have to do it yourself? Somewhere along the way, I figured out that if I was going to go to all the effort to write stuff, then if I wanted to see it on the screen, I’d have to make the effort to produce it as well. That led me on some great adventures, I learned a lot, figured out the business a bit better, and upped my writing game to better deal with budgets. I ran into Steve on another project, hit it off, and decided to produce together.
TVSO: What came first – the film-making or the producing? Does anyone ever set out to become a producer - - it would seem to be something filmmakers do to remain involved in films without having to wear the filmmaker’s cap?
The Dark Place (2015)
Parker: Film-making came first, for sure.  On my first short was Gregg Araki-style: written/directed/shot/edited by me. Some producers I’ve met are just that—they just want to produce.  However making a film is a huge undertaking, so sometimes producing helps your creative partner focus on directing for example.  All movies are unique.

Jody: I think you produce out of necessity. A long time ago, you could just be a writer and that was enough to get your projects made, be they big projects, medium projects, or really small projects. Writers wrote and producers produced. Now,  all of the competition across so many platforms, and the narrowing of studio opportunities, you can’t just be a writer. You have to produce as well. Plus, it is kind of fun. 

TVSO: Are most of your projects self-financed or are studios backing you?

Parker: We’ve self-financed, or at least raised from angels we’ve located.

Jody: Our two newest films,  one a horror comedy and the other a fantasy adventure series, are both going to have some kind of larger dollar financing be it studio or tax incentives or film funds. These are large dollar projects, so the challenge is getting them funded at that dollar level.

TVSO: What’s the meaning behind your company name?

Still from upcoming WTF!
Parker: Cthulhu Crush Productions--Our love of H.P. Lovecraft, and crushing it!

Jody:  One of Lovecraft’s big contributions to Sci-fi was Mr. Tentacle-Face-Doom-From-The-Deep himself, Cthulhu. When it came time to come up with a name for the company, somewhere in bouncing possible names around, we added something sweet — “crush” — to something crazy — “Cthulhu” — and realized we had a pretty unique name. Sure, no one can spell it or say it, but those are just details.

TVSO: WTF! Sounds intriguing. Is it, as the marketing material suggests, similar in tone to other horror fare like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer?

Parker: Yes, and a bit like Cabin In The Woods, but with the killer amongst them. But who?
Jody: Yes! WTF! is totally in the spirit of those films. Director and co-writer Peter Herro is a big fan of Scream-type films. He came to us with the script ready, the locations set up, and his production team in place.  We decided it was a good film to cut our company’s teeth (sharpen its tentacles?) on while we were setting-up our other projects. Steve was able to arrange the financing and we were off to a cabin in the woods to kill people. Not literally. Or maybe….

TVSO: As producers, were you on the set  a lot?

Parker: I was on set for only a few days, due to my schedule.  I was focusing on the edit, where we got almost to picture lock in 6 weeks.

Still from upcoming film, WTF!
Jody: We kept in mind that you don’t want to be there to the point that  the director thinks you have no confidence in him. Nor do you want to be absent when a first time director could really use your help. This film was a great opportunity to get that balance right. For the most part, I think we did.
TVSO: Is it hard to produce a film that neither of you are directing? Lots of compromises have to be made?
Parker: Actually director Peter Herro was line producing, so our producer duties were primarily fairly high level.

Jody: The goal is to figure out how you can best serve the new production. What can you do as producers to make sure the director achieves his vision within whatever realities they’re forced to work under!

TVSO: What are your hopes for WTF!?
 Parker: Besides riches and fame?!? It’s a chance to do something in the classic horror genre...
Jody:  That the fun, fears, humor, and blood is fantastic enough that they download the movie multiple times for friends, family, and strangers on the street, and that they then come back for the sequel. Sequels. Lots of sequels.

TVSO: Can you tell us what else you have coming up?

Parker: We have a delightful “creature feature” set in Beverly Hills.  What happens when you extend the L.A. subway into Beverly Hills?  The creatures come out from underneath to get you!

Jody: Steve modestly forgets that he also directed  a short film. That movie, entitled Love, Colin, has exited post and will be playing in film festivals this summer.  I’m typically chained to my desk writing. It seems to work best that way.

Friday, April 15, 2016

TVSO INTERVIEW: Miles Doleac from The CW's Containment talks his new movie, The Hollow

Miles Doleac
Veteran actor Miles Doleac (American Horror Story) is currently playing two very different roles – firstly, he’s the writer, director and co-star of a new murder mystery called The Hollow, which will be released later this year; he’ll also be seen as Captain Scott on the new CW series Containment, which kicks off April 19.

TVSO: Firstly Miles...Congrats on The Hollow – we just saw that it was recently picked up for distribution by Uncork’d? Was that something you shot a while ago?

DOLEAC: Thank you. We shot it last summer. I was incredibly fortunate to have a terrific, impassioned group of people working on it, on both sides of the camera.

TVSO: And how long did it take you to write it?

DOLEAC: Three quarters of the script came very fast. Probably in less than month. I had several different ideas about the ending and it took me a while to settle on the right one. I set the script aside for a few months and just let those ideas percolate. When I came back to the script with fresh eyes, not only had the ending become clear, but I was able to add some layers to the characters that I hadn’t thought about before.  When I sat back down to work on it again, I finished it in about a week. It was quite a different process from the script for my first feature, The Historian, where I was noodling away at the thing for a year, tweaking and polishing, in the case of some scenes, right up until the day we shot them. With The Hollow, it was more like jazz. It flew out of me in a couple bursts of inspiration and, when I got up from the computer that second time, it was, more or less, the script we shot.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Audiences’ Opinions of the Mid-Season Finale of “The Walking Dead”

For those of you who haven't seen it as of yet, here’s a warning: this is article contains spoilers regarding The Walking Dead's mid-season finale which aired on AMC last Sunday. Anyway, the episode has been getting much hype online for months now. It would seem that it was leaked out that yet another beloved character was going to meet an unfortunate fate.

So, viewers braced themselves, after all this it wouldn't be the first time this happened on this long running program. Since it began, other characters such as Shane, Laurie, Andrea, and Beth all died and some in shocking ways that left fans reeling. So, why should this one be any different. 

So, many fans tuned in to watch who it would be, after all the notorious villain from the comics the series is based on Negan makes his first appearance. Yes, the survivors had to deal with the diabolical Governor and now this guy isn't it enough they have to always contend with walkers coming after them. Anyway, back to who dies, was it Carol who is highly featured in this episode, was it Morgan who came to Carol's aid, was it Daryl, was it Rick? The answer, brace yourself for this one, no one knows for sure.

That's right, after all the hype, viewers were left with a cliffhanger and were met with an untimely end won't be answered till the show returns in October no doubt during fear fest. Needless to say this didn't go over too well with The Walking Dead Fans. Twitter and Facebook were all ablaze with comments that ranged from calling it a cop out to individuals saying they had it with the program. All the while AMC was no doubt sitting there going right see you in October. 

The thing is, despite the outrage, The Walking Dead completed their task. People are talking about this episode and social media has been all the blaze. So what if some of its negatives are still banter, it seems that it’ll no doubt pay off for the cable network in the end. 

Not the first time and certainly won't be the last time a program has gone this route. Keeping viewers hanging goes all the way back to when someone shot JR Ewing at the end of season 3 and kept viewers talking about it all through the summer. This was back in the 80s before social media or the Internet existed. Just imagine what a fire storm that would have caused. Then of course there were the fire storms caused by Game of Thrones, the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding and of course their notorious cliffhanger from last year with beloved character Jon Snow lying in the snow dying from a stab wound.
So, The Walking Dead isn't the first ones to take the shocking cliff hanger route and they won't be the last. No doubt viewers will continue talking for months on Facebook and Twitter contemplating who died as they’re right at the moment which again is pretty much what AMC wanted by leaving them hanging this way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Micah Lyons
Micah Lyons plays one of the titular fiends in the new family comedy How to Beat a Bully.

TVSO: Had you worked with the film-makers before or was it an audition that won them over?

LYONS: No I hadn’t worked with them before. I was pretty nervous about doing the NYC mobster/goon accent and when I walked into the studio to audition, one of the first things that [HTBAB Co-Writer] Marilyn Anderson mentioned was that she was from New York... I knew that I would have to win the role by being the funniest, not by being type-cast. So, just let loose and gave it all I had and luckily, that was just enough! Overall, I had an incredible time working with everyone involved and am really hoping to work with them all again someday very soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How Well Will This Upcoming Season of Game of Thrones Do on HBO?

With Game of Thrones soon returning to TV and HBO GO enabled devices around the globe, several people are holding their breaths and wondering just how the ratings battle will play out this year.

Over the past several seasons we've seen an endless rise in viewers, with the first and last episodes usually topping all episodes in between. Though several benchmark events have already occurred, with many people being turned into fans by book fans who encouraged friends to watch the Red or Purple Wedding, there's plenty left to behold.

A quick glance at several YouTube Season 6 prediction videos tells this author that people are still deeply entrenched in Game of Thrones with it entering this season, with plenty of views on nearly every video on the first few pages. 

The question is, will Game of Thrones continue to be a top runner for HBO? 

Most signs seem to point to yes. The faithful viewers seem to be ever-faithful despite changes within the storylines from the books to the show. With the expansion of HBO GO and other various internet-based viewing products, the Game of Thrones audience has more ways to watch now than ever and HBO is keeping up with those viewers. 

Game of Thrones also demands a prime spot in HBO's Sunday evening line up, a time when most people have sent the kids to bed but aren't quite ready to think about the work week themselves. With the show running at just about an hour in length, this is a nice cool down for both non-parents and parents before bed time for the dreaded Monday morning.

This season the prediction mills seem to be very excited about revisiting Bran Stark and his comrades. We won't spoil anything for those not up to date on the show, but having missed Bran entirely during season 5, fans of the Stark clan look forward to seeing this young wolf back. We may also get a glimpse or two of Rickon along the way. 

Dany's story has taken flight and, without revealing too much, her countless appearances in the released trailers have everyone wondering what the Mother of Dragons will be up to this season. If the hints are correct, we'll be seeing plenty of her and Drogon.

Arya's current storyline seems to be hinted that it will continue to be at the forefront of the tale. Nearly every trailer and teaser released has featured Arya in some way or another and book fans have a good many ideas where she's heading.

Along with other fan favorites such as Tyrion, Jon Snow and Cersei's never ending... Cersei-ness, season 6 of Game of Thrones promises to be a fun ride.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Kim Kardashian replacing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman?! Say it isn't so!

Kim Kardashian replacing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman?! Say it isn't so!: Warner Brothers announced this morning that Gal Gadot will not be continuing on in the role of Wonder Woman within the DC Universe.

TVSO PICKS: Top 5 Greatest OJ Simpson Movies

Top 5 OJ Simpson Movies
Have you been watching FX's American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson?   It's okay, because we have too, and its probably the best show on television right now.   There's much to mull over regarding the Simpson case looking back at it these 20 years afterward, and while the public might be more interested in the what could've been between Los Angeles Prosecutors Marsha Clark and Chris Darden, what has been touched upon in the series, but hasn't been picked up on by the public watching the show is the purely metaphysical nature of the situation as it relates to Simpson and the dichotomy of racial desire.   What does that mean?    Maybe you should re-watch the show if you don't know.     Simpson, in our eyes, has always been a great actor, and perhaps that's one of the brilliant facets of the case and how he seemingly managed to keep his cool during the trial;  he even went so far as to produce a home video in 1996 which tried to explain why he didn't commit the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.    And to boot, Simpson wrote a book which purportedly suggests the premise:  If I did do it, here's how I would have done it.   Insane.    
Blah, blah, blah....   Here's our favorite OJ Simpson movies (in no particular order):

OJ Simpson Capricorn One
Capricorn One (1977)
And you thought Stanley Kubrick was behind the moon landing?   While the premise that movie director Stanley Kubrick had anything to do with the moon landing in the late 1960s proves that culturally we desire conspiracy, Director Peter Hyams takes the whole idea farther with his 1977 film Capricorn One.    Starring Elliot Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and The Juice, the four play astronauts who the world believes are being sent on the first manned mission to Mars.   However, when a technical glitch in the ship malfunctions, NASA decides that it would be better if they didn't call the whole thing off, but stage it on a Hollywood-like sound stage.   Stopping people who discover what they're up to, people die in order for this conspiracy to unfold in proper time in front of the American people watching "history" being made from at home, safe, in front of their television sets.   
Detour To Terror

Detour To Terror (1980)
A made-for-television thriller that stars OJ and features a small cameo role from his soon-to-be-wife Nicole Brown, Detour To Terror is a sort of rip-off of Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes minus the whole cannibals-eating-and-killing-stranded-tourists thing.       A busload of tourists, headed by Simpson are terrorized on the road by a trio of dune buggy crazies.  What we don't know, until later on in the chase is that their homicidal dune buggy enthusiasts have set their sights on kidnapping one of the people on the bus.    After a chase, all hell breaks loose, and the bus goes off the road.   From there, it's up to OJ to save the day,
Naked Gun OJ Simpson

Naked Gun (1988)
From comedy-spoof masters The Zucker Brothers comes Naked Gun aka The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!   This 1988 box office success stars the ultimately unlikely ensemble players ever assembled: Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, Leslie Nielsen, and OJ Simpson.    Completely slapstick-y, and loaded with the Zucker Bros. trademark use of visual gags, the film is a spin-off of the Leslie Nielsen comedy television series Police Squad!  Simpson is hilarious as "Nordberg," the slightly, inept police sleuth that for whatever reason is bested every-time he encounters Nielsen's character on screen.    Who knew comedy would be so easy for The Juice?

CIA Code Name: Alexa OJ Simpson
CIA Code Name: Alexa (1992)
Directed by C-movie director Joseph Merhi, CIA Code Name: Alexa is hardly a C-list movie.  However, it was made for the schlocky PM Entertainment, and stars (then) husband-and-wife team Lorenzo Lamas and Kathleen Kinmont as a para-military team that go out against a select gang of terrorists who have aims at getting their hands on some nukes.   OJ co-stars, and The Juice kicks a lot of ass in CIA Code Name: Alexa.    Perhaps, this is the film that OJ was 'training" for when it was reported that he had just underwent special military training in the wake of his arrest following the Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman murders.  Maybe his "training" in CIA Code Name: Alexa helped him kill them both?     Disturbing.
OJ Simpson Firepower

Firepower (1979)
Originally a movie that was intended to featured tough-guy actor Charles Bronson, director Michael Winner (best-known for working with Bronson) casts equally-tough, but more handsome James Coburn in the lead role opposite The Juice.   A joint American-English production, Firepower is about a former mafia hitter (played by Coburn) who is sent to track down and arrest a crazy billionaire who is in love with sex goddess Sophie Loren.    The film was shot all over the world, specifically in places like: Antigua, Saint Lucia, Brooklyn, New York, and Miami, and Key Largo, Florida.  Oh yeah, and Bridgeport, CT. (WTF?)   The Juice is a bad-ass in Firepower, and perhaps his handling of the firepower in this Winner film contributed, years later, to his penchant for death and violence?