Pilot Review: “Demo Reel”
Breaking from format I will be reviewing a web pilot: Doug Walker’s much hyped follow-up to the Nostalgia Critic Demo Reel, a show that is about a group of filmmakers who are in the business of remaking films with a very small quarter of the budget. And in this pilot The Dark Knight Begins Rising as if not obvious by the title they are remaking Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
Already you might think that this pretty much sounds familiar, and they pretty much do make light of this near the end, with regards to Be Kind Rewind and Sweding, but one little thing that isn’t mention I think probably dooms this project and that is the market is saturated with movie parodys that pretty much do this exact same thing. Skits on Collegehumor, more direct would be How It Should Have Ended, just basically a whole genre that looks at the movies and satirizes the scenes within them, Doug Walker would have to pull off something big to stand out. And unfortunately at least with this pilot I don’t think he does it enough.
For one thing he chose kind of the wrong subject for a pilot, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has been pretty much one of the largest mines for movie parodies, even the latest film. Basically what I’m saying is he isn’t proving any new ground with what he is doing here, and just seems to repeat variations on the same joke within just saying how a plot point doesn’t make sense yet doesn’t have much dynamics beyond that, not to mention criticisms that pretty much everyone and his mother have made on the films, nothing really new brought to the table. Then when it tries to do something beyond criticizing plot points it kind of falls a bit flat like having Bane be at an Arby’s instead of an underground lair which leads too long to a punch line about “Permission to fry”, and the villain shuffle which could have been executed much funnier than it was, hell the whole villains coming together thing could have been much more. Then there is how they pad out the episode which basically where the comedic timing doesn’t feel natural instead feels slow and plodding to get to the joke, and other times predictable like when they go for the ending of the third film by not having the shot that eliminates amigiuity instead having the actor describe what he sees (With only the censored rant after almost saving it). About the best parts though has got to be Malcolm Ray’s (Who plays Tacoma) Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent though really underused.
About the more compelling aspects strangely has got to be the Behind-the-Scenes stuff seeing the people who make these parodies discuss and interact with each other. It kind of feels like to me a bit of Studio 60, where the attempts at humor outside the show within the show come off as more genuinely funny than the attempts within... except a lot less preachy (Seriously Sorkin was using that show as a soapbox more than anything else). Then there is the opening that, while it was the umpteenth parody of The Sixth Sense, and had some misses in humor, felt more inspired and much more energy to it than the main parody of the pilot, especially with the added bonus of the Chicago Ghostbusters Division. I really like the actors Rachel Tietz (As Rebecca Stoné, accented e being silent) and Malcolm Ray handle some of the material and hope to see their characters become more dynamic as the show goes on, though the real scene stealer has to be Rob Walker playing Carl Copenhagen, and I think we’ll see a lot more of him.
In spite of my harsh criticisms I do really think there is room to really improve as this is just a pilot, a testing ground for a concept that may hit or miss. I see much better potential for this than Melvin or Emo Jones or any Let’s Plays post Bart’s Nightmare, and I think Doug should take some people’s critiques to heart and see where he could improve with this idea. This just felt like him trying to play catch up with a lot of others who do internet personalities, but I think there are inklings of the show finding its own voice, especially with the behind-the-scenes stuff.
The Verdict: Refine the pacing and humor, take much more less-than-obvious approaches with the parodies, then it could be a good if not great series.
End of Rant