Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Rocky LaPorte" Part Deux

Well, as promised, here is the conclusion of the exciting “Rocky LaPorte” story.

Thursday night I received a call from the survey company. They started off with a few questions about the show- when did I watch it, did I watch the whole thing, etc. Then they asked me questions about the commercials, in particular ones for Marie Callendar frozen foods and for cleaning products. To be honest, I didn’t remember either one of the commercials- they were so bland that they completely left my brain as I was watching them.

After that, they asked me a few questions about the show itself- who was my favorite character, who was my least favorite character, what should they change if the show were ever aired, and so forth. I was brutally honest that show was pretty horrible, there were no good characters and that they were all equally abhorrent. As for what should be changed, I pretty much said the whole show should be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up.

And that was it.

Given that they were particularly interested in two of the commercials, I’m guessing that the DVD was really a preview of new commercials more than a TV Show. The show was there simply to provide a modicum of entertainment in between the real reason to be watching- ads. (Pretty much the way broadcast TV operates anyway).

It was interesting to be part of the survey, though, and I would look forward to the chance to do it again, although I’d like to see a better show than “Rocky LaPorte.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I've seen the future, and it's name is not Rocky LaPorte

I like to make my opinions known. (Which, of course, is an unusual trait for a blogger to have.) I also like free stuff. To those ends, a while back I signed up for a service that asks its members to review products and websites, and so forth. Mostly I’ve reviewed some commercial websites. It’s pretty easy work, and I’ve been rewarded for my time with Amazon gift certificates, but it wasn’t anything exciting. Until last week...

I got a call asking if I’d like to review a TV show, which I agreed to do. Yesterday I got a DVD in the mail. I was to watch it last night, and the company is going to call me tonight to ask questions about it. I figured I might get the chance to preview some new show that might be on a network’s fall or winter line-up- I could be the one to determine if it would make it. Maybe I would be getting a preview of the next “Heroes” (yay!) or maybe “Two and a Half Men” (boo!). Or maybe I’d see the debut show of an up and coming star. I was excited, to say the least.

Anyway, I put the DVD in the player, and start the show.

The first scene takes place in a kitchen, where a young boy (about 10 or so) is reading from a book and spouting some trivia from it. A superimposed title reveals we’re watching “The Rocky LaPorte Show.” Dad (the titular Rocky, in real life a stand-up comedian) makes some allegedly humorous comments. Sample dialogue:

Boy: Did you know the ancient Aztecs used played soccer using human heads?
Rocky: Well, you know, when you’re poor, you’ve got to make due with what you have.
(Cue laugh track.)

Teenage daughter enters and exposits (not at all unnaturally) that today is Mom and Dad’s fifteenth wedding anniversary, and did Dad forget to buy a present again this year? Dad feels that he got the perfect gift- a new chair for her office. Daughter says that’s a horrible gift. Dad gets a little nervous and claims he also has another gift, too. And standard sitcom plot #23 is off and running.

It’s pretty predictable where we go from here- Dad stops by to see his best friend, who works in a retirement home. Said friend is a little dopey, but agrees to help with a new present. A crotchety old man™ says to get her jewelry, so off we go to the jewelry store.

Dad sees a nice diamond ring, but is put off when the woman at the store (played by Missi Pyle, the only person in the cast whose name I recognized, and only one of two who even looked remotely familiar) tells him it costs $12,000. Dad realizes that cubic zirconium is the only thing in his price range, so he buys one that is about the size of a GameBoy.

Of course, everyone he shows it to realizes it’s fake, so he heads back to the jewelry store to get his money back. Missi Pyle is gone, and the current salesman is the only other person who looks familiar. I don’t know his name, but he plays the Washington Mutual guy on TV commercials. WaMu guy says that all sales are final and won’t refund Rocky’s money. Fortunately, Rocky is a telephone repair man, so he threatens to cut off the store’s service. This rather wishy-washy threat is enough to scare the bejesus out the salesman, so he gives Rocky his money back. Rocky uses the money to buy a teeny-tiny diamond ring.

That night, Rocky cooks dinner for his wife, gives her the ring and all is well with the world.

So- that’s the show I was all excited about. Boy, was it bad. None of the actors had any charisma, Rocky, who speaks in a heavily Chicago-accented nasal voice, is possibly the worst stand-up comedian turned actor I’ve ever seen- he cannot register any emotion at all. The kids are your standard sitcom issue. Either Rocky’s friend is a huge bland idiot, or the actor playing him is (and given the talent level of the rest of the cast, I’m going to put my money on the latter).

The only pleasant thing about the show was seeing Missi Pyle, but something about her seemed odd at first. She’s not exactly a world-famous actress, but given the movies and TV shows she’s been in recently, I didn’t think she’d be acting in a non-recurring role in a pilot. Then I realized that she’s a lot younger, thinner and brunette-er in this show than I’m used to seeing. So I started wondering how old this show was.

A quick scan of IMDb reveals no information about this show- it’s not on either Missi Pyle’s or Rocky LaPorte’s resume. (Rocky’s does say he did a pilot, but it doesn’t say when that was.) His website also mentions the pilot, but gives no other information.

Another thing about the DVD was that there were commercials. Off-hand, I remember one for Afflac Insurance and another for Cheese Nips featuring Quasimodo that was much funnier than the show itself.

The instructions that accompanied the DVD said that I should watch it from start to finish with no breaks, and to pay attention to everything. So, I guess I’m wondering whether I’m supposed to be critiquing a horrendous several-year-old failed TV pilot, or if I’m the test audience for a bunch of new commercials.

The company that sent out the DVD is calling me tonight for my opinions. I guess I’ll find out more then. When I do, I’ll keep all of you posted.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rememberance of Chillers Past- The Other Movie Stars

Hmm- only about 4 weeks since the last post. If I don't start picking up the pace, you may accuse me of being a slacker or something. Well, since I don't want that, I'll continue with the series that had you coming back for more- previous Chiller encounters. This post will finish off the (more or less) mainstream stars, as well as two surprise musical guests.

First off, a couple of Sopranos alumni:

Joe Pantoliano and Frank Vincent (and the lovely Pilar).

For those of you Stripes and/or Rock and Roll High School fans, PJ Soles:

Or, if Sheena is more your speed, here's Tanya Roberts:

My favorite Lois Lane, Margot Kidder:

My favorite Indiana Jones girlfriend (and someone who's always reminded of being Margot Kidder's spunky younger sister), Karen Allen:

Star of some great Hitchcock films, Tippi Hedren:

Here's Karen Black, who was great in Nashville, and whose TV movie Trilogy of Terror scared the pants off my mother back in the day:

And, our musical guests-

First up, she really, really wanted Candy, Anabela Lwin from Bow Wow Wow:

And, finally, the drummer from one of my all time favorite groups ever, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd: