Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On the Lot: Mighty Morphin' Reality Show

Fox has changed the format of On the Lot yet again, this time to my great benefit. The show has been cut down to one hour a week (they'll combine the screening and results shows), and is only screening five short films per week. I'm breathing a giant sigh of relief here. And here's a helpful hint: If you DVR the show and fast-forward through all the "Which contestant will screen their film next?" and "Vote for this guy" crap (pretty much anything involving Adrianna), you can cut the show down to a solid, watchable 35 minutes.

Our guest judge this week was Transformers director Michael Bay, who seemed to have generally helpful criticism (unlike Gary Marshall, who spent most of his time coming up with nonsensical one-liners). The films were all three-minute shorts made in five days (four comedies, one documentary). The best was Dough: The Musical, a musical about a baker searching for love and a woman searching for a job, by new favorite Adam. And because it was awesome, not just because I'm biased towards musical comedy. The worst was new least-favorite Hilary's The First Time I Met the Finkelsteins, a completely pedestrian "Girlfriend Meets Boyfriend's Family" story.

Of the remaining three, Sam's Broken Pipe Dreams was reasonably funny, if a bit slow at one point; Trevor's Teri (Blind Date) was a fair idea that could have been better-executed; and Shalini's Laughing Out Loud: A Comic Journey was well-directed stylistically, but very predictable message-wise (and good on you, Carrie Fisher, for pointing it out). Everyone seemed to like Shalini's and Adam's movies best, and Hilary's worst. So...I'm guessing this is the last we'll see of Little Miss Peeing on the Bus.

Overall, it was a hugely more watchable episode than last week's bloated monstrosities, but I still have a few big problems with the show. First, the directors are being judged on their writing as well as their directing, which doesn't seem entirely fair or realistic if the competition is supposed to be based on directing skills. Second, both sets of short films we've seen were filmed in the contestants' hometowns, which means that a) all films were made before the contestants came to LA to be judged, so that the contestants aren't able to incorporate the judges' advice into their next short films; and b) contestants living in rural areas are heavily penalized when it comes to casting competent actors (and probably when it comes to crews and equipment, as well). Hilary's film, shot in rural New Hampshire, suffered because of amateur acting, whereas Adam's film, shot in LA, was amazing in part because he cast great actors who could sing, too.

That said, I could give a damn about how fair this show is or isn't, and from the ratings, so could America.