July 25, 2011

TV Review | The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour 1.1, 1.2

The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour (Action: Pope Productions/Happy Funtime Productions, 2011) is a case study in Canadian television not meeting its potential.  Drunk and on Drugs stars actors from Trailer Park Boys, one of the rare Canadian television phenomena of the past decade.  Amy Sedaris and Jay Baruchel, two reasonably popular celebrities, appear in small roles.  In addition, Drunk and on Drugs is the late Maury Chaykin’s episodic television swan song.

Where does Shaw Media air Drunk and on Drugs, then?  The channel it was originally slotted for, Showcase?  No, Shaw Media burns it off on an obscure Showcase spinoff channel, in the middle of July, two episodes at a time.  That’s a shame, as The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is the best Canadian television I’ve seen so far this summer.

Robb Wells, Mike Smith and John Paul Tremblay play themselves, as they try to figure out why they’re in random predicaments (in a trashed motel room, inside a giant wooden penis) at the beginning of each episode.  Dr. Funtime (Maury Chaykin), who may or may not be a real scientist and/or Maury Chaykin, has created a blueberry-based hallucinogen that keeps the residents of Port Cockerton in line.

Wells, Smith and Tremblay are also kept in Port Cockerton, for reasons as yet unexplained.  Meanwhile, television executive K. Money (Amy Sedaris) is pissed off, as she tries to assemble hours of show footage into something remotely coherent.  I’m not sure what any of this means, if anything.

Wells, Smith and Tremblay play multiple characters throughout the show.  In lesser hands, Drunk and on Drugs would be a vanity project in the tradition of Single White Spenny and Good Dog.  Thankfully, The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is an ambitious attempt at weaving multiple narratives into a cohesive whole.  Based on the first two episodes, it actually succeeds on this level.

Even given the show’s more outlandish elements (the armless Papa Karlson’s Feetza Pizza, the DJs of all-gay radio station CGAY, the geriatric mob family, Dr. Funtime), Drunk and on Drugs is fairly tightly plotted.  If Trailer Park Boys is Danger Man/Secret Agent, The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is The Prisoner.  That’s not to say Drunk and on Drugs is as good as The Prisoner, just that the two shows inhabit the same plane of weirdness.  I’m interested to see how the remainder of Drunk and on Drugs pans out.

If you’re curious, the first two episodes of The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour are online at drunkandondrugs.com.  The episodes aren’t viewable outside Canada, but one can get around the geoblocking.  See?  Canadian television not meeting its potential.  I hope The Comedy Network doesn’t wrap a similar geofence around Picnicface.

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July 27, 2010

News: Character actor Maury Chaykin dies at 61

One day after I post news about cartoonist John Callahan dying, another death comes from left field.  Esteemed actor Maury Chaykin has died, just hours before his 61st birthday.

Chaykin’s most recent high-profile role is as Sam Blecher in the CityTV/HBO Canada series Less Than Kind.  He will also appear in Showcase’s The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour.  Chaykin had been battling kidney problems for a few years, though the cause of his death has not yet been disseminated.

Three of Chaykin’s best-known roles are as Desmond Howl in the 1994 film Whale Music, as Harvey Weingard in the HBO series Entourage (2004- ), and as Nero Wolfe in the 2001-02 A&E series A Nero Wolfe Mystery.  It was for Whale Music that Chaykin won a Genie Award, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

This is stating the obvious, but I wonder how much Less Than Kind will be impacted by Chaykin’s passing.  Much of LTK‘s personality is due to Sam Blecher.  This doesn’t take away from Jesse Camacho’s character, but Chaykin’s death leaves a big hole that Less Than Kind‘s third season will have to fill.

Everyone of note has already mentioned Chaykin’s list of accomplishments.  It would be stupid to elaborate further.

Instead, I will link to the first ten minutes of Def-Con 4 (1985), in which Chaykin plays Vinny.  This might be disrespectful, but that’s the grim reality of the Canadian film scene.  Even the great actors have to appear in bad films.  I don’t think it can be avoided in this country.  At least Chaykin had the ability to make chicken salad from owl shit.

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May 31, 2010

News: The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour in production

I know I should be more on top of Canadian television news, but I’m a latecomer to this story.  The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is currently shooting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has been since May 26.  Drunk and on Drugs… is Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Mike Smith’s follow-up to Trailer Park Boys, like I really need to state this.

Less Than Kind‘s Maury Chaykin will guest-star as an actor hired to play a wacky German scientist.  Chaykin is filling in for Alex Lifeson, the man originally tagged to play the scientist.  Jay Baruchel, Pat Roach and John Dunsworth also make appearances in the six-episode limited series.

Baruchel’s easily Drunk and on Drugs…‘ hottest guest star, appearing in films like She’s Out of My League, How to Train Your Dragon and The Trotsky.  His climb towards the Hollywood mainstream can only help Drunk and on Drugs… – well, that and Baruchel’s winning CanCon brownie points for The Trotsky.

There’s nothing I can say about The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour that hasn’t already been said.  You’re either excited for Drunk and on Drugs… or pissed off since it’s not Trailer Park Boys.  Hell, maybe you’re both.  TPB-related projects cause conflicting reactions in people.

 
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December 22, 2009

News: Less Than Kind‘s second season to air on HBO Canada

Breakthrough Films & Television has posted news about Less Than Kind‘s move to HBO Canada.  The second season will premiere on The Movie Network/Movie Central’s multiplex channel Friday, February 19, 2010 at 8:30 PM ET/MT.  The Movie Network and Movie Central’s on-demand channels will offer the entire first season starting February 23, 2010.

CityTV debuted the show in the fall of 2008, originally committing to two seasons.  CityTV had even announced Less Than Kind‘s second season as part of its 2009-10 fall schedule.

I’m aware of Less Than Kind‘s weak first-season ratings.  On the other hand, debuting a domestic sitcom in a 10:30 PM ET Monday timeslot is stupid programming.  I don’t think CityTV knew what to do with the show.

I’m surprised The Movie Network/Movie Central managed to pick up Less Than Kind.  HBO Canada’s Canadian content was previously limited to Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and the Nasty Show 3 comedy special.  This acquisition almost makes up for TMN/MC greenlighting Ken Finkleman’s latest onanism.  Almost.

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