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Review–The Collectibles

The Collectibles (2011)

Genre: Comedy/Webseries

Directors: Dan Heinrich & Todd Downing

Writers: Todd Downing & Dan Heinrich

Starring: Brian SutherlandLisa SkvarlaDan HumphreyWonder RussellFrank AcostaS. Joe DowningTrish Loyd

 

It’s The Office meets Reno 911–with superheroes. I’m sooooo there!

The Power Posse (say that five times fast and see what it sounds like) is smack dab in the middle of a corporate shake up and no one is safe. Not even the Power Posse’s feckless intrepid leader, Superstar, is immune to parent company CorpCo’s obsession with market research. Superstar is the Lieutenant Dangle of The Collectibles, only less competent. And at times, the supersuit reveals even more than Dangle’s Daisy Dukes.

What a bunch of douchebags! I wouldn’t trust these people to do filing, much less save the planet. They spend so much of their time bitching, backstabbing, and playing office politics that when genuine threats appear (like super villains right in the middle of their douchey office) they inevitably get their collectible asses handed to them.

There’s a lot of gags here: piss jokes, and penis size references, awkward hook ups, and office sabotage, an SCA reject superhero who hits on the office receptionist (and telepath) with all the charm of an extra from Men In Tights. My favorite bit is a brutal breast reduction gag having to do with Shield Maiden.  Her perfect hero rating was reduced along with her rack (her core demographic was young males) and management wants her to consider getting (re-)augmentation. So she buries her fury in Top Pot donuts. (“One of our sponsors!”) Wonder Russell plays Shield Maiden with a simmering petulance and bitterness, and it’s probably the most consistent performance of the series.

But my favorite super hero? Fucking Aguaman, holmes! He’s like the Carlos Mencia of Atlantis. Frank Acosta plays *Aqua*man’s booze-swilling Chicano cousin like an hombre. (Kiss my pink starfish!) Even though Frank loses a little steam with the soggy Latino-Atlantean midway through the series, he’s still my favorite. The anger is so awesome.

I thought Brian Sutherland would have been my favorite as the puddin’-guzzling Superstar, but I think he is underutilized in the series. He doesn’t have a whole lot to do at first. He mostly just acts ridiculous and clueless for the first few episodes. When Brian has something to work with we can see Superstar in all his dorky, preposterous glory, (and believe me, this fucknut is out of his gourd) but I wish there would have been more of those moments.

If there’s a theme here with The Collectibles, it’s super potential executed with inconsistency. Not all of the actors are at the same level. In addition, the actors don’t seem to have been given strong, consistent direction. And they certainly were not given an equal amount of love in the editing room. What I think I’m seeing here is that if an actor had the experience, foresight, or luck to pull off a consistent tone during shooting (like Wonder Russell), then what wound up on the screen is consistent. If they’re a loose canon like Frank Acosta, then what we see is loose canon–the editing and direction didn’t help to bring out a consistent performance.

Instead of the arch nemesis Dr. Flaming Skull (respect to Paul Eenhorn), what The Collectibles really needed was the super-villain editor, Red Ink©, to stroll into their office with her laser StrykeThru Ray™ and lay waste to the stray bits clogging up the script and footage:

“Yes, I know this actor looks like James Marsden and developed your website, but what does the character actually do? You  have too many characters already, your set looks like a livestock corral.  Stryyyyyyyke THRU!”

Or:

“Why does this character need a sidekick? If there is no conflict between the two, aren’t they simply a composite character? Stryyyyyyyke THRU!”

The brutal economy of the super villain editor Red Ink© could have prevented what I call the “Saturday Night Live Syndrome.” That’s where the sketches run too long, or take too long to get to the punch line. The timing was just too loose on some of the gags and there are some things that could have been tightened waaaaaay up, both in the script and in the editing room.  I actually got angry at a couple places because the jokes were so perfect for the world and characters but they were demolished by the drowsy timing.

“You gave us the punchline two paragraphs ago. Why are you still talking? Stryyyyyyyke THRU!”

The Collectibles has a swell theme song, snappy titles, and transitions with punchy sound effects. They have a dandy website with all kinds of additional content, and Facebook pages for their characters. They have action figures with their own fake, 80′s commercials. There’s even a cameo by Darlene Sellers as Daisy, a character from another Seattle webseries, Chop Socky Boom. Oh, and of course, a play on X-Men’s Wolverine. What’s not to love here?

Well, the camera for one thing. Motherfucker won’t settle down for two seconds. I know the intent is to come off as a documentary style, but the jarring zooms and herky-jerky movements actually gave me the feeling that the camera work was simply done poorly, and not as a stylistic choice.  The lighting isn’t great either. Here again, a stylistic choice that comes off wrong. I don’t think this was a budget consideration. It makes me suspect that pulling off a documentary style like The Office is not as easy as one would think.Who knew?

I want to see the next season. I love the characters and the world, and I want to see if they can get those kinks ironed out. And I want a Shield Maiden action figure–I don’t care about the reduction.

Power Posse Ho!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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