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.


Samantha said...

Sounds a bit Twilight Zoney to me. and sketchy.

The Edward said...

Be sure and give them your social security number, so that way they have a unique number to index you in their database! Don't want them to get confused and send it to you again and again!

Maybe they will ask you questions to see what you remember? Product placement or commercials do sound like the likely items (if it isn't a scam, that is).

Or maybe it is for a high security clearance? See how well you follow orders? Or to see how observant you are about crap in the show? Or your tolerance for pain?