This week I watched a series about a pretty shitty rock band who can’t seem to give up the dream.
Contrary to its name, “The Bad” is anything but. The show follows the lives of the members of a three-man band, and the trials and tribulations associated with their life style choices.
While the real value the series brings comes from its comedy, at its core ‘The Bad’ is character oriented. This is a story about bad life choices, about reaching for an unattainable dream and not knowing how to do anything else and ultimately it’s about how that can get in the way of the things in life that might be a little more important.
Let’s talk about the comedy first, and we’ll get back to characters a little bit later. This show is hilarious, I haven’t laughed this hard in the long time. It’s maybe a bit much to say this is the funniest show I’ve seen this year BUT I think this might be the funniest thing I’ve seen this year.
The thing that stands out is the level of detail that goes into the series, particularly in the early episodes. Episode one starts with the live performance of “Shit Patrol” – in all its glory. Other episodes feature other songs including my favorite, which opens up the second episode “Cocksucker Blues” with the line “One plus one equals two, oooooooo, it’s probably true.” The song covers a nice montage sequence that ends in hilarious fashion and is one of my favorite bits in the whole show. Apparently Chris Gardner, series co-writer and songwriter, wrote the song in just a few minutes, but it took months to record and put together the finished version that highlights this episode.
Even more to the point regarding the level of detail in the show is the fact that the group actually filmed a music video for their song “The Warrior.” The plot of the first episode is the creation of this music video, and while the finished video is quite brilliant, the “behind the scenes” aspect to the first episode is even more amazing and cringe worthy.
Now I want to get a little critical because these articles are pretty worthless without a solid helping of constructive feedback and some food for thought for you other creators reading this. There is a relationship between lighting, production design, your aspect ratio and focal length and the amount of time everything takes you to put together.
“The Bad” is somewhere around 90 minutes long and like a lot of shows it was filmed primarily on a tight schedule. There appear to be moments where the production team had some time to work and other scenarios when they didn’t. Now the show is filmed primarily in a very wide screen aspect ratio, which puts the backgrounds front and center. This wouldn’t be a problem except that there are scenes where they didn’t seem to have the time to really light the location well enough, or the production design / planning required on some locations that would make those backgrounds interesting.
Camera guy Blair Rowan described Sergio Leone has an inspiration for the widescreen aspect ratio. Leone had those trademark exterior vistas, where as ‘The Bad’ and most web series are interior focused. There are times when the wide aspect ratio works but more often they reveal some of the more subtle technical corners that are cut to save time. The real issue is, when you choose an aspect ratio you are locked into it for the entirety of a video, for every scene, without exception and there is a good chance that there are times when it just doesn’t work. Of course as a creator you really have to ask yourself about balance.
For a show like ‘The Bad’ that is simply opening itself up to my technical nitpicking, the production is going to live and die by the script and the acting, and as I said before, the characters that are well written. Clark is unbearable – he is selfish, untalented, childish and destructive, yet Ira remains his best friend and band mate through the years. Somewhere along the line Ira tried to grow up, he got married and somehow found enough money to afford that nice house. Some clues are given as to why Ira can’t seem to cut him loose, but the main reason is Ira’s delusional belief that Clark is not an anchor tied around his neck. The show, in something of a twist, drops in a long, dramatic, heartfelt argument between Ira and his wife Penny (aka “Dick Bitch”) right in the midst of some serious comedy.
We’re all chasing a dream, and no one gets there on their own. The people you choose to help you get there are as important as anything, as is the ability to know when things aren’t working out. For Ira, with Clark the constant driver pushing him on, and Penny the ever supportive yet neglected wife, the most valuable feedback might just come from the punk teenager honestly telling him “You guys fucking suck.”
You can find “The Bad” – a show that definitely doesn’t suck – at their official site, http://thebadseries.com