Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A few TV pilots that should have been given their wings

HEAT VISION & JACK (1999)

"If I feel so much as one bullet hit me, I'll come over there and pull your lungs through your nostrils."

One of the chief joys of this incredibly bizarre un-aired pilot is the chance to see Ron "the bad guy from TIME COP" Silver send himself up in great style as 'Ron Silver', a former astronaut-turned-super villain (with an occasional sideline in acting) on the hunt for the titular duo. When he's not being recognized as the villain from a Van Damme movie ("Get a pen and I'll write you an autograph!"), Silver is a ruthless killing machine, destroying anyone who gets in his way. He's so diabolically evil he even monologues to himself about how diabolically evil he is. 

And who are the heroes standing in this fiend's path?  Well, there is Jack, a former astronaut-turned-fugitive who gains super-intelligence when his brain is literally baked by the sun. His only weakness is that when the sun goes down, he loses his super-intellect. 

And then there is Heat Vision, a motor bike possessed by the mind of Jack's former un-employeed roommate, whose weaknesses include running out of petrol and being pushed over. Why is he called Heat Vision? No idea.

Sadly, we shall never know how this clash of the titans would have ended. Fox cancelled series production and any chance of a return (talk of a feature film has been bubbling since '08) ended when Silver succumbed to cancer in 2009.

KORGOTH OF BARBARIA (2006)

"I've dated girls uglier than you for breakfast!"


The title sequence alone had me wanting a series. For anyone who loves 1982's gloriously unhinged CONAN THE BARABRIAN and has a sense of humor, this is for you! The makers of KORGOTH take no account for good taste, diving into the goldmine of cliches which is 30s Sword-n-Sorcery fiction. Not only do they take the tropes of the 80s flicks they inspired (sex, violence, gore), there are gags which reference the cover art of Frank Frazetta, 80s heavy metal and even a few shout outs to HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos.   

Directed by SAMURAI JACK creator Genndy Tartakovsky, KORGOTH benefits from a similarly  deadpan approach to its subject, albeit with an R rating.

LOOKWELL (1991)

The story of a former star of yesteryear making a comeback as a latter-day crime fighter, LOOKWELL should have been the beginning of a comeback for BATMAN star Adam West. West is in his element, playing a delusional actor who believes his experience as a 70s television cop qualifies him to aid the police. 

A worthy companion to POLICE SQUAD! and SLEDGEHAMMER!, LOOKWELL never made it to air, consigning West's second greatest performance to the dustbin until the fame of its co-writer, Conan O'Brien, and the enduring appeal of its star resurrected it on Youtube.

THE GIRL WHO MADE ME WANT TO SET MY EYES ON FIRE

Rooney Mara, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET


In light of Mara's recent success, I feel almost cruel in posting this, but her work in the awful 2010 remake really had my capillaries flowing. I really don't know how to describe it. I'd like to say you'll have to see it for yourself, but that would  involve taking two hours out of your life to actually watch it.

Broadly speaking, Mara takes on the role of the heroine played by Heather Langenkamp in Wes Craven's 1984 original. Unlike Langenkamp, who played a vague approximation of a normal teenager, Mara is stuck playing some kind of damaged emo chick with a mysterious past. The most frightening part of uncovering her character's past is the chilling number of times the script ticks off various cliches: emo hair, emo music, crappy job, creepy emo male friends, pretentious emo sketching. 

And then, on top of this Necronomicon of bad signs is the performance itself. Or more specifically, the voice. The only way I can describe it is if Lee Marvin's monotone had met Sylvestor Stallone's patented mumblemumble, and had a casual booze-soaked fling that resulted in this sad troglodyte creation. It's horrible, it's nigh-on unintelligable and it is frickin' hilarious.

It felt almost like Mara did an impression of Kristen Stewart in TWILIGHT for the gag reel, and the director didn't tell her to stop. When I wasn't laughing my head off, her mumbling  had me reaching for the rewind just to figure out what the hell she was saying. I gave up because the movie was so crap I could not bear to watch it again.

While even the hounds of hell cannot convince me to re-watch the movie again, her performance was so flaccid it dips over from merely stiff to some kind of weirdly memorable anti-performance that I can't help but want to re-visit. Thankfully I've been able to resist the urge... so far.