Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 short paragraphs: Backwash


2010, Danny Leiner - Netflix

It's quite remarkable the amount of original product there is available on the web, and not just shit youtube videos of teenagers practicing their backyard wrestling moves, or 50-year-old casino owners trying their hand at rap videos, but honest to god talented individuals putting a lot of time and effort into creative endeavours for very little money. From Crackle comes Backwash, the brainchild of actor/Aaron Sorkin regular Josh Malina, and directed by Harold and Kumar's Danny Leiner.

It's a 13-part series (currently available on youtube in piecemeal (for Americans only) or on Netflix (for Canadians) as a 90-minute feature that attempts to revive post-Vaudevillian the Marx Brother's style of verbal witticism (and its cadence) alongside the Three Stooges-style of physical comedy. Malina is the Groucho stand-in, Michael Panes taking on the dull-witted, clumsy Curly-type, and Michael Ian Black rounding out the trio with a knowingly over-the-top flamboyance. The three are on the lamb after they perpetrate an accidental bank robbery, so it's a total road trip scenario. Loaded with absurdity and fast, wry patter it's generally amusing, but it's perpetrating a style of comedy I've never taken to.

Each of the thirteen acts is bookended by a minor celebrity intro/outro, Masterpiece Theatre style. John Hamm, Sara Silverman, John Cho, Michael Vartan, amongst others, actually provide the highlight for the series, generally acting as if they're cashing in a favour and subverting the series itself. Though generally entertaining, like a most web series (or most TV shows in general) it's forgettable.