Anchor Bay // 2009 // 242 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // June 14th, 2010
Rock stars by night. Kids band by day.
If you liked the first installment of IFC's comedy, odds are you'll love Z Rock: Season 2, because it's more of the same, for better or worse -- same jokes, same cameos, same show.
For hard-rocking Brooklyn band Z02 (Paulie Z, David Z, Joey C), things are tense. They've been playing children's parties during the day to fund their hard rock nights, but after a disastrous blowout with a record executive, their career is all but finished and the band broken up. It's up to their manager (Lynne Koplitz) and their favorite club owner (Jay Oakerson) to reunite the boys and get their career back on track!
Z Rock: Season 2 contains all ten episodes of the second season spread over two discs:
* "I Wanna Be Z-dated"
* "All Z Small Things"
* "Jail House Z Rock"
* "Z Are Family"
* "Z Wrestler"
* "Z My Baby"
* "Z Rock This Town"
* "Johnny Z. Goode"
* "Z Will Rock You"
The rock and roll glitz and glamour has worn off slightly in Z Rock: Season 2. The first season was something of a surprise, mostly because I had zero expectations, and I found myself enjoying the show. Call it a return to form, but there's very little growth or improvement here: same jokes, same rock cameos, same knuckleheaded calamity. Now, the novelty has kind of worn off. It's hard to get excited about Season Two, because I can't shake the feeling that I've already seen this before.
Sure enough, we're back to square one with ZO2: no record contract, no kids' parties, no money. Having ruined their chance at success, they redouble their efforts to break into the big time, with the expected madcap and zany results: kids' parties go awry, the band members end up sleeping with the single (or not so single) mothers, and calamity ensues. There are some good moments tucked away here, like the Battle of the Bands against rival metal heads (the real-life eighties metal band Steel Panther), but for the most part Z Rock: Season 2 flagrantly recycles plot lines and guest stars from the previous season. Having Dee Snyder feeding ducks was funny the first time because of the sheer randomness of it. Make the joke a second time, not so much. Season Two brings back Joan Rivers, Dee Snyder, Dave Navarro, and John Popper in reoccurring roles, as well as appearances from Daryl Hall, Chris Jericho, Frank Stallone, Marky Ramone, Jeffrey Ross, Warren Sapp, and others in small roles.
Z Rock isn't a great show, but there are elements that work very well. ZO2 is a real band, and a pretty good one. More importantly, they're real people. Their characters are exaggerated and the shtick is laid on pretty thick, but they're inherently likeable, good-natured fellows, and it comes through in their craft. They are buffoonish, but you root for them; you groan when they mess up, laugh when they act silly. All their awkwardness from the first season is long gone; they are relaxed and confident in their characters. It isn't hard to see how Z Rock the show came to be, because you kind of want to put a camera in front of them just to record their lives and see what crazy stuff happens. It is artificial and scripted, sure, but Z Rock sells the illusion. It feels crazy enough that you want it to be real.
Ultimately, it's just not as funny the second time around. The narrative struggles and coughs up diesel fuel like a truck on a steep hill, trying to find more situations to put the Z boys in to justify another episode worth of content. From a Brooklyn politician who's also a mobster to a wrestling-themed party to a Broadway audition, it just feels silly now. Season One worked because it was something new, but there's nothing new happening now; it's just repetition. Even the actors seem confused as to how to adlib comedy into these situations. It's not hard to understand why a show like Flight of the Conchords would call it quits after two seasons. Sometimes the funniest ideas have limited shelf life, and you either acknowledge that or go stale. You can find a chuckle here and there from Z Rock: Season 2, but the show's going to need to seriously flip the script if it comes back for a third season.
From a technical perspective, this is a solid, run-of-the-mill treatment. Colors are natural but muted, with strong grey tones, with a clean and blemish-free transfer. Detail is crisp. All told, very respectable for a cable show; nothing jaw-dropping, but it gets the job done. Likewise, the audio comes in a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation; it does the job, but never really utilizes the rear channels for anything. You'll forget about them entirely. Dialogue is clean and English subtitles are included. Bass response is average. In baseball parlance, this is a line drive single -- nothing to get people up on their feet cheering, but certainly better than a strike out. Hopefully that means what I think it means. I'm probably the last person qualified for sports metaphors.
Extras look good on paper, but aren't really substantial. We get the obligatory deleted scenes and outtakes, as well as a few short featurettes -- "The Smackdown," "Special Guests," and "Unscripted," each lasting about 3 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. All told, we get barely 20 minutes of material.
Z Rock is good-natured and at least partially enjoyable due to the sheer charisma of its cast, but Z Rock: Season 2 never steps outside the shadow of its debut season. It's the same shtick. Unless you really adored the show the first time out, this one is a rental at best.
Meh. Not enough evidence to convict.
Review content copyright © 2010 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 242 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Z Rock on IFC