Channel 102 November Recap

The final Channel 102 of this year was last night at Anthology Film Archives. There was laughter, there were tears, and there was one self-cancellation. Nine shows competed for our love, and from the ashes of the ensuing nuclear war and 106 ballots being cast, only five have survived.

Below are links to the shows, the blurbs from the 102 guys, and my thoughts.

Prime Time

Running From Johnny Law

Watch Episode 1

The November screening was the first 102 show without heavyweights Gemberling, My Wife, The Ghost AND Shutterbugs gripping their unshakeable hold in Prime Time. And with the beach unattended… a group of complete strangers came in a took the top spot! A confidently fun and dramatic show, Johnny Law swooped in and blew everyone away as the sure winner this month.

Oh, when this started, and I saw that coffee shop on the Commons in Ithaca, did my eyes light up. It was like being back at home, only a considerably more exciting version of home. A home with 70 caliber guns, a home with jumping champions, a home with fast moving trains.

Running From Johnny Law hit everything I like in a 102 pilot – a healthy number of laughs, a bit of tension, fantastical special effects, and children dying. I look forward to more strong work from the gentlemen from upstate.

The Widower

Watch Episode 2

This one’s almost a real show, isn’t it? Of all the genres tred in our little five-minute world, there aren’t many sitcoms or romantic comedies (right?). But The Widower does it with style — strong direction and polish from Jamey Schafer combines with Andy Rocco’s requisite sad sack earnestness and a hilarious cast.

Last month, when I saw Episode 1 of The Widower, I was unsure. Sure, it was funny, but did it touch my heart? Well, it’s touched enough hearts to be picked up the first time, and it succeeded in touching mine with Episode 2.

In particular, Janice (played by Eliza Skinner Megan Neuringer – thanks for the correction, Will!) has some of the best lines I’ve ever seen come out of a “best friend who’s in love with the lead” character I’ve ever heard. You know what will get you really high? Me. Widower is worth downloading at the very least to hear her bits.

The Block

Watch Episode 1

You can fight to make the best-looking, most professional pilot you can muster or you can do this: get 2 or 3 of your friends together and see if you can do a fun knock-off of the Warriors in one day. The Block lives to fight another day.

The Block has our hero (Lewis, played by Will Hines) find himself a block away from his house – well, maybe half a block – and having to fight through some of the baddest boppers in…wherever he is…to get back home to find his no-longer-dead brother. In Episode 1, he takes on Shades in a deadly Circle fight. But even after Shades is defeated, we see that Lewis has a long way to go.
(I look forward to the episodes with Madame Fuck-You-Up and The Littlest Baron.)

The Outer Limit

Watch Episode 1

Watching this show reminded me of discovering OK Computer — at first I’m like “what is this about”, and then at some point for no discernable reason I realize it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.

I got a strong hint of the excellent Look Around You while watching The Outer Limit, only with a bit less 70’s British-school-film camp and a bit more mid-90’s-science-show camp. Enjoyable, although hopefully the next episode will have a bit more laughs – then again, maybe I just wasn’t warmed up, as it was the first show of the evening.

Teen Homicide

Watch Episode 3

I dare anyone to not smile during each and every episode of Teen Homicide. For three episodes the perkiest homicidal detectives on the force have solved crimes, rocked hard and been best friends forever. Dropping from the top spot to number five might mean this series is hitting its first big hill.

Jess and Jon came dangerously close to cancellation this past go-round – only a month after topping the charts – but their rocking ways and always-at-the-ready Rape Kit may have saved them once again. Watching Jess figure out what the viscous fluid is was delightfully hilarious and gross. And no, kids, it’s not Teen Homo-cide.


The First Steps

Watch Episode 1

A beautifully-shot, amazingly-acted show. Without even taking a break from their powerhouse My Wife, The Ghost, Mr. Ghost productions comes back with a gutsy, ambitious show that dares the audience to love a slow-paced eerie comedy. With three more votes, they would have done it. Cool show. In this episode, Charlie, well, takes his first step.

Widely considered to be the big travesty of the night (check out the forum thread), The First Steps fell just three votes short of going Prime Time. Light on comedy but strong on the production values, the show had potential but was just missing that little extra spark. Perhaps the missing cowboy hat? We may never know, as Charlie will never take another step. Make sure you watch this – because pouring ketchup on the table is not to be missed.


Ron Chipley, Notary Public

Watch Episode 2

Kevin Hines and Kevin Cragg step up their visual style and show us more of the cold and terrible world of competitive notarizing. But despite a stellar cast and fun story, Notary bows out of Prime Time after two episodes. But fear this creative team: the only one whose gotten three pilots by the fickle Prime Time Panel. They’ll be back.

Wither, Ron Chipley? The other travesty of the night, at least in my eyes. Despite excellent acting (“Your move, Chipley!”), astounding timing, and more notarizing than your brain can handle, the audience didn’t give Chipley the seal this time. I am mildly depressed I will not see the happy, smiling face of Ron Chipley again at 102. But that’s what reruns are for, I guess.


Watch Episode 4

A slow-paced, quiet show about a man who’s brought back from the dead by Satan to seduce married women into a life of adultery. But after episode three brought the series to the brink of cancellation, creator Tony Carnevale made a gutsy choice to try a “mid-season” replacement of the decidely non-slow-paced Space Guidos. That episode fared better with the crowd than its vote total suggests, but it couldn’t stop Purgatory from stepping into retirement.

I’m all for making fun of Guidos – especially ones from space – but this ended up being a lot of yelling that, despite some excellent effects and some good acting, didn’t really get us anywhere. ‘Tis a shame, as there’s so much potential in the concept.


Watch Episode 4

In the end, the only thing that could stop the ‘Bugs was themselves. Their third “episode” was mostly an apology and doctored movie trailer, but was still entertaining enough to take second place. And their finale, a self-cancelling eight minute epic, blew audiences away at the November screening. It joins what’s becoming a long list of breathtaking final bows at 102.

After episode 3, I’ll admit it: I had my doubts. I thought, “My god, Huebel is in LA so much, Aziz is busy racking up comedy gigs – will there ever be another real episode of the Bugs?” But Aziz told me not to underestimate the ‘Bugs, and sure enough, they pulled through. The finale is truly epic, full of high-tension espionage, hard-hitting action, and shocking revelations.

If you’ve ever enjoyed anything, enjoy this: the final episode of our beloved Shutterbugs. Amen.

Channel 102 returns in January.