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The megastore movie.

The megastore movie. (photo)

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UK megastore chain Tesco (basically the British Wal-Mart) has made a leap so obvious that it’s amazing no one got there sooner. They’ve decided that they’d like to get into the movie business, so they’re going to produce their own film, available “exclusively” (exciting!) at the chain.

To do this, they’ve hooked up with Amber Entertainment, a company formed by executives from the now-defunct New Line Cinema, who evidently kept their rolodexes intact. The plan is to produce movies from mega-selling authors whose books can be sold alongside the DVD. First up: a Jackie Collins movie (“Paris Connections”), starring Alain Delon’s son Anthony. In the future, the presumably bitter New Line execs will give “The Golden Compass” (the movie that basically sunk their company) a second try, as well as Judy Blume.

With the DVD market at least temporarily collapsing, you might wonder at the wisdom of this plan. But it does makes sense — Tesco can attempt to lure customers in for a book/DVD combo sale, plus they’re taking the once-semi-lucrative-niche that TV movies of this sort (where Collins belongs) used to occupy. Here in New York, the inescapable Duane Reade pharmacy chain has apparently partnered with Sony and WB to sell DVDs near the register for $10 a pop, jumbles of titles that suggest surreally juxtaposed double-features: “Center Stage” and “2046,” anyone? Tesco’s just taking the logic to the next level, producing in-house fodder at a no doubt deeply discounted prices.

01292010_compass.jpgIt’s worth noting that Tesco’s been fooling around with exclusive DVDs for a while — in the UK, they’re the only place to buy “Me And Orson Welles,” which is all kinds of grimly revealing about what it takes to sell a Richard Linklater movie these days. It’s likely these movies will be terrible but economical, priced for those who just have to see their favorite authors on-screen. (Though I suppose the revamped “The Golden Compass” will be its own kind of weird spectacle, with the New Line execs giving themselves another shot to give it right.)

You have to wonder why an American chain like Wal-Mart — which already sells a lot of well-known garbage — isn’t setting up to do the same. Tesco’s perception in the UK is more on the side of benevolent exasperation than the charges of sheer evil Wal-Mart tends to raise here, which is probably part of it. The many people who shop at Wal-Mart are eager to see whatever their movies would look like. And I suppose Wal-Mart’s notorious pragmatics would keep it from entering the DVD market at such a weird time. But still — I miss the days when Sunday night promised three separate lousy TV movies all hyped by their networks, and this is where they’ve gone to die.

At the very least, I expect “Paris Connections” will be be slightly better than the trailer for “The Stud,” Collins’ first on-screen effort. She had four movies made from her work in 1978-79, unbelievably. Then it was straight to TV:

[Photos: Tesco via Wikipedia; “The Golden Compass,” New Line Cinema, 2007]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.