Channel 101 roundupPosted: November 3, 2005
Channel 101 is a great monthly short film festival in California, started by the guys who did the Scud: The Disposable Assassin comic book and the great unaired pilot Heat Vision and Jack. Anyone can submit an entry, which gets shown at the monthly screening. The shows are then voted on by an audience, and the top five are put into “Prime Time” which means that another episode is expected the next month. Some shows make it to the double digits, some are one hit wonders.
It started out with some pretty varied stuff, lots of animation, some weird comedy, and even some drama. But a particular style has dominated Channel 101 the last year or so. It’s a weird socially inept humor that embraces its poor production values and is usually Science Fiction to some extent.
Here’s a review of this month’s Channel 101 lineup.
YACHT ROCK #5
I really haven’t even watched this show since it premiered a while back, even thought it’s pretty much been number one since it started. The first episode seemed pretty lame to me, and I never gave it another chance. It seemed like an SNL skit, and about as funny. Even after watching this episode I’m not entirely sure what the premise is, but I think it’s some sort of VH1 Behind the Music parody thing.
All that said, I was surprised to find out that this was pretty funny. The plot involves Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen trying to kill smooth rock forever because hard rock gets them more pussy. I don’t know if this was me suffering for not seeing the previous episodes, but I got pretty lost after that. Vincent Price comes along and summons a ghost… just watch it, it’s pretty funny. It’s pretty much just humorous pop culture references, but they’re pretty good ones (and not stuff we’ve heard a million times).
Writing: 7 Direction: 6 Acting: 7 Visuals: 7 Humor: 7 Obligatory Michael Jackson child molestation joke: 1 Overall: 7
THE WASTELANDER #2
This show is so good it’s unbelievable. The costumes and special effects are numerous and look great. The direction is very effective, there are moments where you feel emotions other than humor (anticipation, nervousness, fear). This show’s plot borrows heavily from Mad Max, but gives the Max character a proper gentlemen of a servant. Despite the fact that they live in a wasteland, they live in a pretty nice looking suburban home. In this episode The Wastelander’s servant becomes unsure of the Wastelander’s intentions, due to the advice of some spooooooky viiisitors.
This show is so well done that it almost works against it. You hold up a much higher standard for it, and if it fails to meet it in any way, you might become overly critical. The opening credits seemed a little over the top, but I guess they were supposed to be. And too much emphasis is put on production value, and not enough on the humor. This teams previous show Utopia was hysterical, in a way that lets me know that humor isn’t their intention here.
All this really means anyway is that The Wastelander is in a class of its own, and it’s always hard not to hate the smartest fastest kid in class.
Writing: 8 Direction: 8 Acting: 9 Visuals: 9 Humor: 7 Overall: 8
THE MUSTACHE CONTEST
Uh, okay. Here’s a cute little cartoon about some sea life that have a mustache growing contest. Each animal finds a different way to grow their mustaches fast, until they are all trumped at the end by a strange visitor. The art is simple and cute, and so are the animals. They swear occasionally, and there is a murder, but this is pretty tame. I do like how all the sound effects are mouth created.
I don’t know how some stuff gets voted into prime time lately. Certain shows give me the feeling that the creators have all their friends attend the screening and vote for them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible show. But it’s not the kind of thing I see getting a million votes from the audience.
(Note: After I wrote this review there were some discrepencies over who the true creator of this animation was and the show was removed from the site. The bottom slot was filled in by Roots of Justice… Schrab and Hartman still denied!)
Writing: 6 Direction: 7 Acting: 6 Visuals: 8 Humor: 6 Plausible facial hair growing strategies: 0 Overall: 6
THE WRIGHT STUFF #3
This is another show that has been doing very well ratings wise on Channel 101 that I never watched for one reason or another. And again I was pretty pleasantly surprised, although I do think that this suffers the same deficiency as The Wastelander- heavy production values and light on the humor. This episode involves Amelia Earhart falling into a vortex in the Bermuda Triangle and being transported to the time of the Wright Brothers. She unwittingly brings a bunch of zombies with her and the boys (along with a baseball bat wielding Theodore Roosevelt).
The visuals are pretty great. They did really good giving it that faux old film look, and the zombies and accompanying gore look pretty great too. There’s some funny moments, and a couple not so funny moments. There’s a robot head on the Wright Brother’s plane for some reason, who seemed to deliver all the worst jokes. This is good enough to watch, certainly. But I don’t think it would be very popular without the professional looking visuals.
Writing: 7 Direction: 8 Acting: 7 Visuals: 8 Humor: 6 Plausible facial hair growing strategies: 0 Overall: 7
CHANNEL101: THE MUSICAL #3
Okay, and then there’s this. It’s very very hard to like humor like this. First of all, I hate musicals. To the extent that I also hate parodies of musicals. I just don’t want to know about it. Second, this is a self referential show about Channel 101. A musical about the pressures and difficulties about making a show. This makes it really hard to like this show. Self referential stuff is cheap humor. It panders to the Channel 101 audience, and has little value outside of it. And it puts Channel 101 as an institution on a pedestal, which I don’t find appropriate either.
All of that said, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. This episode features Dan Harmon, one of the people who runs Channel 101 in a catchy little number called “I’m Dan Harmon and I shit gold” (referring to all of the great shows Dan Harmon has made). Dan Harmon’s performance and singing has some personality, and goes beyond the other actors who seem to be trying to make a straight musical. I understand that this stuff is funny when played with a straight face, but play it too straight and you are boring. I don’t not recommend this, but uh…
Writing: 7 Direction: 6 Acting: 7 Visuals: 5 Humor: 6 Overall: 6
Not a bad group of shows, I was pretty surprised by some stuff I hadn’t previously given a chance. To anyone who’s curios, here’s some of my all time favorite Channel 101 shows:
Documentary: The Series
House of Cosbys (can’t find this one- they may have removed it again due to Cosby related legal reasons)
Adventurous und Magick Haus
and of course… RIP Most Extraordinary Space Investigations