Joshua Hudson: Fox likes DADS, but that doesn’t mean you have to

by Joshua Hudson

Dads-TV-tvwriter.comDecent cast, below average script. Expected greatness from known producer, sour delivery of unoriginal premise.

That about sums up FOX’s Dads. Giovanni Ribsi deserves so much better. Still not sure that Seth Green does.

Dads centers on Eli (Green) and Warner (Ribsi) who own a video game development company. They clearly have “interesting” relationships with their dads. Warner’s dad (played by the always affable Martin Mull) has just moved in and immediately cements his presence by spoiling a huge business deal that the guys were trying to close with investors from China. Warner has a hard time standing up to his dad because he’s a “Golden Retriever with a briefcase.”

Eli’s dad (Peter Riegert) shows up to attend Eli’s surprise birthday, whom he actually thinks is for Warner, thus spoiling the surprise. Eli has no problem standing up to his dad, but like all kids, still has a soft spot for the love he has never obtained. By the end of the episode, Eli reluctantly agrees to allow his dad to move in with him since his life has completely unraveled.

There you go. Dull, boring, and a little too much on the racist humor. Brenda Song, who plays Eli and Warner’s assistant Veronica, should ask for a huge raise to put up with this. They dress her up as a character from Sailor Moon to entice the Chinese businessmen because, according to Eli and Warner, it will seal the deal. I’m all for stereotypes in sitcoms – hell, that’s the meat and potatoes OF sitcoms – but let’s be real: Sailor Moon was created in Japan. At least get the cultures right.

Sure, there were a few decent jokes – every sitcom has at least one – but it fails to provide much substance. As an executive producer, Seth MacFarlane should just walk away. I never really liked Family Guy or American Dad myself, so my expectations were extremely low. Temper yours similarly.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: This just in. On November 21, 2013, Fox announced that DADS was being removed from the schedule, even though several of the episodes shot for the initial order haven’t been shown. Nothing was said about whether or not the series will return. Guess Fox isn’t so crazy about the series after all. So it goes.

Joshua Hudson Reviews HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS

1248x139The full title wouldn’t fit into the headline spot, so here it is: HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS (FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE).

And that title is precisely what this show is about. Shocking right? But in addition to being a description it’s kind of a prescription as well, pigeonholing the series. Allow me to explain.

Polly leaves her husband, takes her daughter with her as she moves in with her parents because she has nowhere else to go. Six months later, she’s still living with her parents, working at a smoothie place in a grocery store, yet determined to be the most successful single mother role model for her daughter.

Sure.

The ex, Julian, won’t seem to leave the family alone, despite Max’s best efforts to shun him and make him feel unwelcomed. He’s an idiot, with terrible credit, and who used rent money to adopt a highway, and failed to keep up with it. Oh, and he uses a brick as a brake for his truck. Yes, you read that correctly.

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Polly ends up going on her first date since the divorce, and is reluctant to leave her daughter with her crazy, whacked out parents. They have no filter, thus are flush with inappropriate remarks that should remain out of earshot of young children.

Predictably, the date goes anything but smoothly, and Max and Julian team up to save the evening.Polly realizes that Julian does still care, he just really is that stupid. Her parents love her and their granddaughter, they’re just from different generations where their type of behavior was once a much more acceptable form of parenting. Polly just needs to figure out – and stop me if you’ve heard this before – how to live with her parents for the rest of her life.

The cast is great. Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett play the parents, Elaine and Max, Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke plays Polly, the single mom, and Jon Dore plays Julian, Polly’s ex-husband. Again, great cast, just too many comedians thrown into one pot. When the improv becomes too noticeable and forced, you lose what the show is. That’s what I took away from this. Parents has its moments, but the premise will wear thin in the long run. Though, Two and a Half Men has proved that a similar premise has legs and can win over audiences.

3248x139Unless Garrett or Perkins launch a comedy tour across America touting the slogan “Winning!” I’m afraid I just don’t see that happening for Chalke and Parents.

EDITED TO ADD: It’s no longer about whether the premise of this series “will wear thin” but about the fact that it has run thin. HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS was cancelled last Friday, May 10th. So much for trying to stockpile relevant reviews! 

Peer Production: The Trials & Tribulations of Shooting Your Own Series Pt. 2

A 2 day shoot! We certainly hope Josh is proud of himself and his team.

odds of winning

Day 2

by Josh Hudson

To put it bluntly: a somber cloud on an otherwise successful day.

If you missed my experience on Day 1 of filming Odds Of Winning, click here. Day 2 definitely went smoother. After our Google+ chat to iron out the mishaps, set up was seamless. There was a higher sense of urgency amongst the crew – a pep in their step, if you will. I felt this was odd since two of my crew members were unable to make it due to their conflicting class schedules. And no, they weren’t the “bad apples” by any means.

Because I’m acting in the series, it was my turn to sit in the make-up chair. Our Director was running lines with our lead actor, camera and lights were on schedule, and we were on schedule. I’m just about done with my make-up when my 1st A.D. approaches: “I think one of Katie’s friends just died.”

Some things you just can’t prepare for.

Katie is the manager at The Other Bar, the location of our series. She’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and she’s worked closely with me to make sure this series takes off in a timely fashion. She found out via Facebook that one of the shift managers at the bar, who was also a close friend of hers, was killed in a hit and run accident on his way home from work. I did what I could to comfort her and even told her that if she wanted us to pack up and go, we could reschedule, because this type of event takes precedent. She was gracious enough to allow us to continue shooting despite the tragedy.

I huddled my crew and informed them of the happenings. I told them we would be able to continue shooting, but at any point in time, we could be asked to leave, and we were to be respectful of that request. The key is to work diligently and get the shots we came here to shoot in a timely fashion.

In between takes, I made sure to check on Katie. I’ve lost people close to me (as I’m sure many of us have) and sometimes a shoulder to cry on is what the doctor ordered. Some of the employees of the bar were called in so she could deliver the horrific news, and throughout the day, the other side of the bar filled up.

With a crowd comes the noise.

Boom mics pick up everything. That’s kind of the beauty of them. It’s also why we hate them. Going into this series, filming at this bar was going to be a challenge with sound because of the ambiance of the bar: the refrigerators, fans, outside noise, etc. We can’t exactly prepare for a gathering of people mourning the loss of a loved one. According to my DP, the lavs saved us on sound. In no way am I complaining because if I were in the mourners’ shoes, I probably would’ve acted similarly. But man, was that a challenge.

We finished ahead of scheduled, and even packed up the equipment and were out the door before our allotted time expired. Not too many issues on set aside from a little too much chitchat amongst the crew, but things went well enough that it was definitely a win in my book.

I met with Katie and one of the co-owners after we were done to express my condolences, and also expressed my appreciation for letting us continue our shoot. I told them I would dedicate this episode to their friend because it’s the right thing to do. I then reminded them about our shoot for the upcoming Tuesday. Then came another adjustment.

The bar was scheduled to undergo some interior renovations, and they were scheduled to begin – you guessed it – Tuesday. They asked us if we could stay and shoot it that (Fri)day, but unfortunately our lead actor had to be at his everyday job. We tried to work in some other days in between, but couldn’t find a common day, so I just decided it would be best to hold off until January and call this episode the Odds Of Winning: Holiday Special. Its New Year’s themed, so we’ll go with it. Plus, it gives me time to gauge the timing of the post production process. With everyone away for the holidays and having day jobs of their own, I needed something to go off for when we pick up the bulk of production after the New Year.

Until then, my life is all about looking over footage, scheduling, planning, planning, and more planning. Oh, and saving money. Feeding a crew is not cheap.

Thanks for listening! I’ll fill in everyone on the post production process once we’ve completed it. If I’ve inspired any of you, awesome! If I’ve scared any of you, better now than from an executive who couldn’t care less.

Peer Production: The Trials & Tribulations of Shooting Your Own Series Pt. 1

munchman NOTE: And this is just the first day of the first episode! (Hey, nobody said this kind of thing was easy.)

odds of winning

by Josh Hudson

Man, talk about a headache.

As most of you probably don’t know, I’m Josh, or The Hudsonian for those more familiar with me TV reviews. I wrote a web series called Odds Of Winning and we just filmed our first episode. Or, better yet, the fourth episode. It’s a long story. Our first day of shooting was scheduled for December 4, 2012.

And then it wasn’t.

For anyone trying to film their own projects, if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you want to look at it) enough to have an awesome establishment allow you to film on their property for nothing, you take it with all it encompasses. Again, it’s free.

But you can’t always be prepared for unexpected business trips.

Yep, we had to reschedule our Pilot shoot for the following Tuesday, while we were still on schedule to shoot episode four Thursday (the 6th of December) and Friday (the 7th of December). Two and three will not be shot until mid-January. Super fun.

Production can be chaos if you’re not prepared, or even all that experienced. A lot of the guys and girls on my crew are breaking into the production industry themselves, and for some, this is their first gig. Growing pains will happen. And since this is my first production, I knew as much as I prepared, something was going to bite me in the ass.

When we showed up, the bar wasn’t prepared for us. See, what’s cool about the bar we’re shooting at is that it wraps around like a horseshoe. So we can shoot on one side, and not interrupt anything on the other. But they have an outside bar that’s stored inside, and it was, unfortunately, placed on the side of the bar we were to shoot on.

After finally getting everything moved around, we then had to set up the camera, lights, the DJ booth (it’s a New Year’s episode, so not having a DJ would just be weird), and coordinate with our extras where they were to be throughout this shoot.

And then, the disorganization hit its tipping point.

My Director didn’t assist with my Director of Photography on creating the storyboards, so all we had were what kind of shots we wanted. No one really knew where those particular shots took place within the script, so we pretty much had to guess what we were doing.

By the time we finally rolled the camera, we had one hour left before we needed to leave the bar because of their regularly scheduled hours (we were only scheduled for three hours this day).

We got two shots in one hour.

And that’s not even the worst part. Those two shots didn’t correlate with the script. At all. So we had two shots with no presence in the script. How was this a productive day?

Trial and error, to be exact. I’ve been known to be a little passive at times, sometimes even to a fault. With this being my first major production – and this is still rather small scale by comparison – I felt the need to look on from a distance to survey the situation before harping down people’s throats when I wasn’t entirely sure what each person’s job really was. But I brought my crew on because they convinced me they knew what they were doing. I noticed that some were doing their jobs well, and others not so much. We had a meeting later that night via Google+ to hash things out. (By the way, an absolutely brilliant means of communication. It’s a virtual conference room. It saves people gas money, and it’s easier to correlate times with people. Try it if you haven’t.)

We were able to air out what went right (nothing) and wrong (everything) and went into the next day with a much clearer idea of what we needed to do to have a productive day. Because we knew we wouldn’t be able to get the extras again, we were just going to have to take that footage and make it work.

For any fellow creators out there, I applaud you. This can be a daunting task to bring your work to life, and playing multiple roles (I am the creator, writer, producer, and I’m even acting in this production) only makes the task more arduous. If you are out there doing the same, you have my full support in any and all your endeavors.

Stay tuned for a synopsis of Day 2. It’s only slightly better than Day 1.

EDITED BY LB TO ADD: 2 shots in one hour and you’re complaining? That would be a miracle of speed in the pros. Congrats on getting through this, dood!

Peer Production: Update on ODDS OF WINNING

The other day we ran Josh Hudson’s piece about his new web series, ODDS OF WINNING. Now it’s time to include the all-important info about how you can be part of this production.

Here’s the all-important financing info on indiegogo.com.