New Video // 1997 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 23rd, 2011
How low would you go for fame?
In this 1997 mockumentary, a ragtag band of documentarians follow standup comedian Susan (Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program) as she leaves New York for Los Angeles and "pilot season." If you're not in the know with your television biz lingo, that is when all the networks put together sample versions of their proposed new shows to test market to death. Very few pilots make it to broadcast, but hit shows come from somewhere. The cast of Friends made a pilot, but so did the cast of the never seen Fox Force Five. This whole film is a satire of the rather insane process of finding the right people for making proposed sitcoms that probably will never air. It is full of aspiring TV comedians including David Cross (Arrested Development), Andy Dick (NewsRadio), Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan), Sam Seder (Home Movies), Andy Kindler (Everybody Loves Raymond), Laura Kightlinger ($#*! My Dad Says), and H. Jon Benjamin (Family Guy). Irony of all ironies, most of these guys and gals were more than willing to make fun of the exact medium that made them all big time stars. Some already had hits under their belts, and others were just a few years away from finding one in their own pilot season struggles. They know their subject a little too well, and that's why the parody works. These guys and gals have been through all the pain they are showing you for real.
The movie itself was shot very much on the cheap as if it really were a documentary. The image quality is barely there, but that is part necessity and part conceit to look authentic to the guerilla camera format circa 1997. The DVD transfer is as good as it can be given the circumstances. It's grainy, dark, and often looks washed out or over exposed. Sound is a simple two channel stereo. There are no extras at all, which is a shame considering how many funny people got together to make it. I would love to hear what these guys think about pilot season now that all of them have been on the winning side of the process. As far as DVD presentations go, this one isn't great. It is remarkable though that it is here; the unsung film was never very popular.
Who's the Caboose? is to television what Waiting for Guffman is to theater and This is Spinal Tap is to rock 'n roll. It's far funnier if you are an actor who has been on these kind of belittling auditions where you are critiqued and dissected from every angle while doing lines a third grader wouldn't find intelligent or witty. It feels loose and improvised, and the plot peters out near the halfway point. Still, the film is a rare chance to see some very funny people bite the hand that feeds them. What makes this whole thing work is that the people up on the screen have done all of this before, and they know how to bring the funny by bringing the real pain of what it is like being a working actor in Hollywood. They should probably hand this one out at auditions, and tell people that here are successful actors who are gonna tell you how much this process sucks.
Not guilty of taking funny business seriously.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated