Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The TV Wheel

Airing only once after the final Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The TV Wheel is generally remembered only by MST3K fans and the nerdiest of comedy nerds (I’m sorry if that was redundant). Typical of most Joel Hodgson projects, The TV Wheel was insanely ambitious. It was a sketch comedy show that was performed live - in one take- in front of a single stationary camera that was placed in the middle of a revolving stage.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the sketches on The TV Wheel fall flat although a good chunk of them do (too much of the humor relies on forced perspectives and in camera special effects). Nonetheless, the skewering of Scientology is fairly sharp as is the sketch about the Novelty catalog and the Thunderbirds spoof. Yet even if you hate this unsold HBO pilot you still have to admit that the cast was pretty amazing. David Cross, Paul Feig, Doug Benson, Andy Kindler, Fred Stoller, Nick Bakay and Morwenna Banks (who was also involved in Hodgson’s unfinished movie Statical Planets) all appeared in this. And if that wasn’t enough, Judd Apatow was one of the writers. Granted, The TV Wheel doesn’t live-up to its potential but given time it eventually would.

As a side note, The actual TV Wheel pilot starts at chapter 3. Chapters 1 and 2 were added to the Comedy Central broadcast in order to (over)explain the show's premise. They're kind of interminable and unfunny so you can simply skip ahead to the third chapter without really missing anything.

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