Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In which the Plot Thickens

Okay, full disclosure. I wanted to do this more than Barb did; but she's the actor, the personable one, the fearless one, the friendly one who puts people at ease. I'm the intense scary guy who doesn't talk to people he doesn't know, who's compelled to be the smartest guy in the room. People watch Barb, she carries her plays. If she doesn't want to do this, it's not going to happen: there's no host and they can just run the movies. Somewhere around now I begin to see what this project could be -- dimly, dimly, but there's a Show somewhere in this. And right now, Bill's the only one with skin in this game -- whatever is going on in his hierarchy, he's the one who sold his management on going way beyond their Usual Suspect Comfort Zone to entrust a big-deal project to a complete unknown with no teevee track record. He's pushing back for a reason that makes sense to him, and it is his project. Let's think kindly of him in the Now, because if he hadn't taken the risk there'd be no You-Know-Who's You-Know-What, and let's pull back on the self-aggrandizement a point or two.

And this isn't exactly what happened. But something like this did, sort of.

We start trying to find some common ground. We agree that beyond the title, the character's name, and a slate of bad movies there's not much more to this thing. Bill's got the movie list; apparently movies are sold in packages, and he's deliberately set out to get the worst movies available. So the movies will be known to be, and will be sold as, the worst movies available. That's something we can work with. But a misspent lifetime watching bad movies teaches one that the irreducible truth about any given bad movie is that at some point the Guilty Pleasure of watching a Bad Movie wears off, and the moviegoer is stuck with said irreducible truth: this movie stinks, and my time is better spent watching paint dry. Most sensible people know this and deftly avoid the Bad Movie with the same grace used to avoid a person mumbling to himself while shuffling down a sidewalk. Very few people will intentionally seek out the Bad Movie; and those that do might hang around in a movie theatre to protect their investment of actual cash, but given a free movie on teevee with no upfront cash investment and the option of surfing away or going to bed (we are still talking about 1AM Sunday, right? About the time people start ... crashing?), you can't hold the audience for very long. So this show really is going to have to be held together by what the host says or does. The audience will come in for the opening of the movie, but will only stay around so long as they're interested in the host.

We're all good with this; so let's take it another step.

So you're at home, SNL has just blessedly gone off the air (sorry, we know there's nothing you can do about it, you've got what NBC gives you, but we used to watch it; it's just a collection of unfunny catch phrases that the audience laughs at reflexively, it loses momentum after Weekend Update, it closes with self-congratulatory weepiness and a slow blues, and the only reason people aren't turning the teevee off is because they're too tired to get up or they've lost the remote, one) -- aaaaaaaaaand then what? What if the next thing you see is like nothing you can watch on any other available channel? What if what you see and hear is so off the wall that you can't believe it? What if you're watching somebody or something so outrageous that you stick around to see if they dare to do it again?

Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's what we want.

See, the people who are going to tune in for the movie already know that the movie stinks. Once they confirm that it stinks, they can cross it off their Bucket List and move on. So we can't just give them EC Vault o Cheese puns, or dissert on the movie itself, or whatever -- that can be part of the mix, but not the whole thing. If the point is to nibble away at Channel 27, why not tive them something that they'll never see on Channel 27?

You're losing me, here.

The show stands alone from the movie it supports. Maybe it interacts with the movie, maybe it doesn't. But we know what the audience's expectations are, and we mess with those expectations. They're expecting Vampira, Elvira, Palmyra, whatever; they're expecting bats and cobwebs and crypts and dry ice. And that's what we're not going to do.

Okay, I get that. You're not going to do the show we want you to do. And I can see your thinking, and it's ... different. I'm not saying I agree with you, I'm not saying I disagree. So I know what you're not going to do. What are you going to do?

The storyteller wants desperately to have Barb break in with "Daaaaaahling!" But that didn't happen. Neither Millie, nor the show, burst forth fully formed.

We did come around to this, generally:
  • Let's try something different.
  • We can always go back to Bye-bye-ra.
  • We'll have something workable fleshed out when we get back from vacation.

Bill was good with that. Because he had scheduled studio time for a run-through the week after we got back. We could try this idea, see what happened, and if it didn't work well we'd have a week to put together a ... more traditional show.

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