Category Archives: Reality TV

TV Review: GHOST SQUAD

Desperado Miller (Abby McEnany) rallies the troops.

I love quirky stuff and this hits the spot: a comedy about inept ghost hunters. Ghost Squad is a new project by Andy Kushnir, a staff writer for the popular game, Cards Against Humanity. Kushnir recently directed and co-wrote with his writing partner, Carley Moseley, this mockumentary pilot which releases to the public on October 1st.

Our story begins with a lead-in narration by head paranormal investigator, Desperado Miller (Abby McEnany). You can think of her as Michael Scott, the manager from The Office, played by Steve Carell. McEnany is hilarious as the ill-tempered and insecure psychic detective. Her ragtag team of misfits are either out for themselves or too self-absorbed to be of much help.

Zorba Dinkel (Jo Feldman) in search of chips and salsa.

One scene, to give you a taste, has one of our misfit investigators, Zorba Dinkel, (Jo Feldman) entranced by a vibe that leads her to a cupboard. She is transfixed by a pulsing energy that leads her to a bag of chips and, ultimately, to a jar of salsa! She has made quite a tasty connection with the other side. Very funny stuff.

This series gets to juggle a variety of tropes: office sitcom, reality-tv, and a touch of horror. The results are pleasing. Ghost Squad is definitely something to watch this October which, of course, is the kickoff to our cavalcade of holiday season entertainment.

GHOST SQUAD

Ghost Squad is the creation of Andy Kushnir and Carley Moseley. I look forward to more of their collaborative work.

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Filed under Comedy, Ghosts, Reality TV, Satire, Television, TV Reviews, Web, Web series, Webisodes

Review: Discovery Channel’s TREASURE QUEST: SNAKE ISLAND

Treasure-Quest-Snake-Island

There’s a disturbing scene in the new treasure hunt series from Discovery Channel. And it’s not about a shark attack or a snake attack. It’s during a meeting with the crew and the expedition leader, Cork Graham, is making a case for going to Snake Island to find a buried treasure of Incan gold. The island is crazy dangerous for many reasons. As final proof that they’re on the right track, Graham takes an overlay from a legendary map said to hold the treasure and places it directly over a map of modern day Snake Island, off the south eastern coast of Brazil. He keeps it there for all to see. But it’s not a match. It’s sort of a match. But not quite. And that symbolizes the leap of faith everyone is taking.

Herpetologist Bryan Fry and the Golden Lancehead pit viper.

Herpetologist Bryan Fry and the Golden Lancehead pit viper.

But it was never just about the gold, was it? No, it was never that simple. Look, we can go down the line. Take Graham, he’s as much in it to prove a youthful hunch from years ago. Then there’s ole Cappy, the boat captain. He’s in it for the glory. Mehgan, the expedition dive master, seems most interested with the historical significance of what they may find. Jeremy, the ship’s mechanic, seems most into the adventure and then with the possible big payday. And Bryan, the ship’s herpetologist, or snake expert, is in it for the snakes! Yeah, he is most eager to match wits with the legendary and dangerous golden lancehead pit viper. Sounds like a crew out of the pages of “Moby Dick” or “Jaws.” Surely, this is a cut above your typical reality TV show.

Treasure-Quest-2015

The more details you get about this expedition, the more of a mystery it becomes. So, yeah, maybe there is hidden Incan gold somewhere on Snake Island. Maybe all the theories add up. But, even if they did, how will this modern day crew do better than other missions going back hundreds of years? To add to the challenge, as the show makes clear, our crew may be made up of seasoned professionals but they’re also pretty much fish out of water. And, to their dismay and possible horror, they weren’t counting on modern day pirates. They thought about them in theory. But no so much in reality. And they’re very real. All in all, this is a story that should keep you hooked to the very end.

The six part series premieres on Friday, July 17 at 10 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel. For more details, visit our friends at Discovery right here.

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Review: GHOST STALKERS: ‘Holmesburg Prison,’ tonight, November 6, THURSDAYS at 10/9c on Destination America

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Terror Dome (1896-1995)

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Terror Dome (1896-1995)

“Ghost Stalkers,” now on Thursdays on Destination America, proves to be classic-worthy with its visit to the infamous Holmesburg Prison. We can speculate from now until sunrise, but what this show does well, it does very well. The chemistry between John E.L. Tenney and Chad Lindberg carries over smoothly with each new mission. The paranormal activity spikes with their visit to the abandoned Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. They confront spirits and they confront back.

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Review: GHOST STALKERS: ‘The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,’ Sunday, November 2, on Destination America

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

Chad Lindberg and John E.L. Tenney from GHOST STALKERS

I love me some good ghostbustin’ TV action. If I’m going to commit some sit down time, I’m really hoping for a good effort with credible jargon and gadgets and true-believers as guides to build up the suspense. In the latest episode of “Ghost Stalkers,” we get some good stuff with “The Old Taylor Memorial Hospital,” which airs on Sunday, November 2, at 10/9c on Destination America. The title brings it home conjuring up thoughts of Scooby and the gang.

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KING OF THE NERDS on TBS: Curtis Armstrong Interview

Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine, "King of the Nerds," on TBS

Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine, “King of the Nerds,” on TBS

When Curtis Armstrong and Robert Caradine first pitched the idea of a reality TV show that played off the franchise, “Revenge of the Nerds,” it was met with bewilderment by one network. Could something like that work? Well, you’ve got two of the original actors from the hit franchise, with impeccable credentials, and they’ve come up with a twist on the reality TV model that taps into true nerd culture. TBS liked the idea for “King of the Nerds” and now it looks like we have a hit show. Season Two is underway and this is a perfect time to jump in and try the show out. It airs tonight. You can regularly see it on Thursdays, 10/9 Central on TBS. Check out details on the show here.

Jack, Zachary, and Nicole from "King of the Nerds," on TBS

Jack, Zachary, and Nicole from “King of the Nerds,” on TBS

Curtis Armstrong is a very interesting actor who has been quite fortunate in his career. Lucky for him, as well as for us, he’s been in some of the greatest television shows in history. He’s been a recurring character on “Moonlighting,” “Felicity,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Boston Legal,” “New Girl,” and “Supernatural.” He’s done some hilarious voice-over work on such hit animated shows as “American Dad!” and “Dan Vs.” His work in film includes, “Risky Business,” “Southland Tales,” and “Ray.” And, of course, there’s “Revenge of the Nerds.” In this interview, we chat about a wonderful career, nerd culture, and the reality TV show that gets it right about nerd culture, “King of the Nerds.”

Just click the link below to listen to the podcast interview:

As Curtis Armstrong makes clear, “King of the Nerds” is all about the people on the show. You will be rooting for your favorite contestants on a show that celebrates all things nerd.

Watch “King of the Nerds” on Thursdays, 10/9 Central, on TBS.

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INTERVIEW: ROBERT NATHAN, Director of “LUCKY BASTARD”

Catherine Annette as Casey in "Lucky Bastard"

Catherine Annette as Casey in “Lucky Bastard”

“Lucky Bastard” is a thriller that delivers on many levels. You can read my review here. This is an intelligent satire that digs deep into the dark recesses residing within all of us. Director and co-writer Robert Nathan was kind enough to take some time and discuss his film as well as share his thoughts on some of the more disturbing aspects of the current zeitgeist.

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Movie Review: LUCKY BASTARD

Lucky-Bastard-movie-2013.jpg

When the history of today’s movies is written, there will be a special chapter dedicated to the influence of reality TV. There already exist some books but we’re just beginning to bite into this meaty subject (Consider CATFISH and REALITY SHOW). It has been around with us long enough to have developed a reality of its own with its own conciets. We accept a nice house loaded with hidden cameras as par for the course. We accept nonactors embarking upon a unscripted train wreck. And, sadly, we accept that human beings can too easily allow themselves to become subhuman. That last one is classic and transcends the here and now. In the case of “Lucky Bastard,” it is aiming to be a classic and it succeeds to a great extent.

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SXSW INTERVIEW: ADAM RIFKIN and REALITY SHOW

Reality-Show-Adam-Rifkin-SXSW-2013

Reality-Show-SXSW-2013

“Reality Show” will have its world premiere on opening night of SXSW, March 8, 2013. View a trailer here. This film is going to catch you by surprise as the narrative builds. What if you were the star of a reality TV show but you didn’t know it? For producer Mickey Wagner, ratings are everything. He will sink to the lowest depths to get what he wants. Too bad for a mild-mannered family that gets caught in his crosshairs. Because Mickey is going to take it to the limit to make this family, being secretly filmed, act like he wants them to act. They are going to be stars, despite their lukewarm personalities. He will throw chaos into their lives: sex, drugs, whatever, to make them interesting. What results is a truly dark and quirky film. It brings to mind David Lynch and it will inspire filmmakers in pursuit of telling a compelling story because this one sure is.

adam-rifkin-reality-show-sxsw-2013

Adma Rifkin was kind enough to share some thoughts on “Reality Show” and filmmaking in general for this interview. He has been making films since he was a kid and has never looked back. With an impressive resume, Adam is his own best friend when it comes to making movies. He is the catalyst behind “Reality Show,” as writer, director, and, yes, star. If you were to casually see it, you would naturally accept Adam’s performance as that of another smart and capable actor. Then to find out that he wrote and directed the thing, well, you have to respect the guy. Just his role as the producer from hell, Mickey Wagner, is worth applause.

Here is the Comics Grinder podcast interview with Adam Rifkin. Enjoy:

Adam Rifkin Reality Show

Follow Adam Rifkin on Twitter here. Visit our friends at SXSW here.

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SXSW: Adam Rifkin’s REALITY SHOW

Reality-Show-Adam-Rifkin-SXSW-2013

SXSW is March 8 thru 17. To get your SXSW pop culture fix started up, consider this offering: Adam Rifkin’s “Reality Show.” He has taken his successful Showtime series, about the underbelly of reality TV, and turned it into a feature film. Enjoy.

Press release follows:

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CBS Gets Snarky Over ABC’s “GLASS HOUSE”

The original “Big Three” Networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, seemed to always remain cool and corporate. You know, professional. Well, maybe that was your dad’s idea of being professional. Today, in the age of social media, a big corporation can throw a tantrum just like anyone else. That is exactly what CBS did today regarding its lawsuit with ABC over the similarities of ABC’s new “Glass House” to CBS’s old “Big Brother. Not being able to yank the show off the air, CBS created a fake ad for an upcoming CBS show, “Dancing on the Stars,” which it advertised to the world on Twitter.

There is definitely a case to be made that ABC’s “Glass House” is an outright rip-off of CBS’s “Big Brother.” But it’s not the first time that one movie or TV show has spawned a nearly identical version from a competitor. The big deal here is that the ABC series is being produced by former “Big Brother” producers in violation of their nondisclosure agreements. That’s the big point. But a judge doesn’t see that as a big enough point to shatter “Glass House” off the air. For now, we get to enjoy some suit at CBS attempting to be funny. The following is a fake ad for an upcoming CBS show that seems to be doing the same thing CBS is accusing ABC of doing. It’s actually alright but a bit uptight and it starts to drag as it gets lost in its premise of dancing in graveyards. It is supposed to appeal to that coveted 18 – 35 year-old demographic which it may or may not. Read it over at CBS or enjoy it below:

CBS ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF “DANCING ON THE STARS,” AN EXCITING AND COMPLETELY ORIGINAL REALITY PROGRAM THAT OWES ITS CONCEPT AND EXECUTION TO NOBODY AT ALL

Los Angeles, June 21, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, ground-breaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.

The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.

The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.

“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air. “Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”

“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

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