Con Man Season 2: Episodes 3 Through 6 – Thath Thowbizth (Review)

Ep 5 Alan and Nolan 1

After season one of Con Man poked fun at the whole fan convention experience, as seen through the eyes of Wray Nerely, season two continues to look at the funny side of working in showbiz. It also takes a slightly different direction than indicated by the season one finale. It appears that the path to a Spectrum film is not quite as cut and dried as Jack thought.

The first two episodes included some moments from season one favorites, Dale, the “female” stuntman and Faith, the delicious, and funny, right-hand woman to Jack Moore. Both characters are gone all too soon but Bobbie is back, to stay it seems, and she has gone from Comic Con agent to agent…agent.

Jack has been offered the role of Doctor Cop Lawyer and he turns it down. Meanwhile Wray does  a commercial, being shot by Diego (who will be shooting the pilot for Doctor Cop Lawyer.). Wray does all his own stunts despite the stuntman offering to do them.

The two talk about the deal in her “spa” (“Hot grease!”) while she massages a customer and makes her plea to become Wray’s full-time representative.

Bobbie has the script and she pushes for Wray to read for the part of “gimpy sidekick” Dr. Richard Trimmings, aka Dr. Dick Trimmings.  (Get it?) The character has a squinty eye, a lisp, and a limp. Wray wants to go for the lead, Dr. Blade Slater.

Bobbie tells Wray that he cannot go for Slater as she submitted herself for the “20 something” dancer role; Blade’s lover. Jack pushes for Wray to do the commercial for Diego, while he orchestrates the Spectrum Movie.

Jack’s personal assistant, Faith, breaks up with both men through a letter. “Blah, blah, blah, self destructive, blah, blah, blah, sexual inconsistency…” Although, it turns out that the letter was not a “Dear Wray” break up note until Nerely insults Faith when she walks in.

Dale exits after “discarding” his broken arm and cast.

Wray learns that Bobbie did not get the part of the 20 something former dancer and that Diego does not want him for the lead role.  After being told by Bobbie to read for the gimpy sidekick, Wray complains to the health food bartender (Van Diem) who drowns him out with the blender.

Ep 6 Alan
Alan Tudyk as Wray Nerely at the audition.

Wray goes to his buddy’s mo-cap lesson. Jerry Lansing offers the class as an alternative to Andy Serkis’ course on doing apes. (“Get out of here you damn dirty ape!”) Lansing takes Wray through the paces of his upcoming audition and how to capture the character of Dick Trimmings.

After the mo-cap training session, Wray goes to the audition. Two Aussie actors let Wray go next and the casting director reveals that Diego is not even at the audition. He is, according to Cindy, watching via the smartphone in her left breast pocket.

The audition takes place in front of three assistants and a trio of children who are in charge of social media. Diego watches while he eats lunch. During the audition, no one looks at Wray except for Sarah, the gum-chomping girl who reads the huge Blade Slater part. Nerely has two lines.

After the audition, Wray becomes agitated by Sarah’s over-enthusiastic chewing and flips out. Enraged, he calls out the entire room, including the absent Diego. (“It’s anaphylactic shock!”) The director asks Wray to audition for another part.

Nerely then reads for the lead. Amid spontaneous applause, Wray leaves the audition and he meets Jerry Lansing all hunched over, limping and lisping, as he comes in to read for Dick Trimmings.

These four episodes were excruciatingly funny. From the breakup with Faith to the mo-cap class with Nolan North, each sequence had plenty of laugh out loud moments. There are also plenty of bits that hit a nerve of truth.

Anyone one who has auditioned for a role will recognise the scenario that Wray faces in his Doctor Cop Lawyer reading.  The sly dig at Australian actors apparently inundating the business was also funny.

Episode five was mainly a lot of sight gags combined with the brilliant delivery of Nolan North as he “teaches” his students to be a variety of animals (No apes!) and aspects of weather.

Dushku and Hathaway killed it in episode six. Huertas is proving that he has comedy chops for days as Diego. (On a sidenote: Nolan North proves once again that apart from being the master of videogame voice acting, he is one of the funniest comic actors in the business.)

There are some brilliant gags in this season. Jack Moore tearfully brushing his toupee, and that huge bald-dome, Bobbie and the whole health food bit, the audition piece, and Lansing turning up “in-character” as Dr. Dick Trimmings. (“Sorry! It’s such a great part!”)

Ep 6 Eliza 1
Eliza Dushku as Cindy

Season two of Con Man is just as irreverent as season one. There are a number of well-loved performers (from the Whedon-verse) who drop by for cameos and the comedy ranges from slapstick to farce.

This time Con Man is airing via Comic Con HQ, versus Vimeo. Head on over now and catch the fun.

Cast:

Con Man Season 2: Continuing the Laughs with Alan Tudyk (Review)

Screen shot of Con Man Season 2

Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion are back for the second season of Con Man. The tale of the “also ran” actor, aka Wray Nerely and his best buddy, Jack Moore “superstar” is continuing. Watching the first four episodes it is clear that the laughter quotient has increased exponentially.

There really is very little that we can reveal without entering spoiler territory, but suffice to say, Wray is still having difficulty living down the specter of “Spectrum” (The Firefly of this universe.).

The show’s star, Moore (Fillion) is working hard to bring the popular television series to the big screen. (This was part of the plot in season one.) Moore is focusing his efforts on reuniting the show’s cast while Nerely is still trying his best to avoid revisiting his past performances on the series.

There are some splendid cameos in the first four episode’s.  Dr. Ken regular Jonathan Slavin makes the most of his role as Wray’s agent. Returning season one regular Mindy Sterling returns to take up the reins of control, for her convention client and she is just as hysterically funny this time around.

In this second season times are hard in the “entertainment industry” and Wray’s romantic life is suffering as well.  Agents prove to be fickle in terms of loyalty to their clients and we learn that stuntmen do not get paid if they do not perform.

Tudyk continues to show that he has a definite flair for comedy, and not just the physical aspects of the job either. Tucker and Dale vs Evil, a tale of such dark hilarity that fans want to see it repeated in the guise of a sequel, proved that Alan has got comic chops for days.

(The actor has other comic roles but none were as nuanced as his character in the “Evil” film.)

Fans of Con Man season one will remember that Vimeo streamed the story of Wray’s uncomfortable life on the convention trail.  The second season has moved to Comic Con Hq and there will be a launch on December 6 over at the Paley Center in Los Angeles.

There will be a load of familiar faces. Geek pinup Felicia Day, video game actor Nolan North (who has featured in more video games than Carter has little pills) and Alan Tudyk, as well as a plethora of other stars, will be having a panel discussion about the new season.

It should be noted that Casper Van Dien and Mark Hamill will also be attending the special event.

Season two of Con Man delivers the same quirky and irreverent humor as the first season and promises to be even funnier. Nothing is sacred. From Brazilian waxing to other assorted attacks on the nether region, the comedy comes fast and furious with all the major players mercilessly taking part in self parody.

There appears to be another 13 episodes this time around and the show will most likely follow the four show format. (Last season featured releases of four episodes at one time, until the season ended.)

Since the plot line includes Jack Moore’s determination to make a feature length film of Firefly Spectrum, one can imagine that all the players will return.

Fans of Con Man will enjoy this newest installment of the series which premieres 8 December on Comic C0n HQ. Check out the trailer below and see if this second season tickles your funny bone.

Trumbo: A Review

Trumbo, a recreation of the most shameful period of American history to date and the force that was Dalton Trumbo who defied the blacklist could and should win best picture this year. Starring Bryan Cranston, who should already be making space for an Oscar, Diane Lane and John Goodman, directed by Jay Roach, this docudrama/biopic is a film that is nigh on impossible to not love.

Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper and Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo

Trumbo, a recreation of the most shameful period of American history to date and a depiction of the force that was Dalton Trumbo who defied the blacklist could and should win Best Picture for 2015.  Starring Bryan Cranston, who should already be making space for an Oscar, Diane Lane and John Goodman and directed by Jay Roach, this docudrama/biopic is a film that is impossible not to love.

Entertaining, funny, heartbreaking and thought provoking, Trumbo gets so  much right and this compensates for the few items that could be seen as wrong. The film looks sumptuous, rich and full of detail, from Dalton’s library to the tools of his trade, everything  looks spot on and beautiful. The things that do not work as well irk  but some things cannot be faithfully recreated.

A perfect example  of this is in the area of casting.  As the main  “protagonist”  Cranston’s casting of Dalton Trumbo is serendipity in its purest form, the man is Trumbo.  All of the actors chosen to play the “main roles”  fit their characters like tailored kid-gloves.  Diane Lane, for example,  who can play any part with a skill that many hope for and spend a lifetime trying to achieve but fall that bit short, becomes Cleo Trumbo almost effortlessly.

Elle Fanning, little sis to Dakota, as Trumbo’s teen daughter is perfect. Fanning is well on the path to outshining  her wunderkind older sister and her performance in this film proves that the Fanning girls definitely got more than their fair share of the talent gene.

Helen Mirren, drops the accent to portray Hedda Harper as a vicious and malicious shrew.  Best actress should be hers automatically.  Sadly, Lane and Fanning are also up for the gong and this three way race will definitely end in tears for someone.

John Goodman, along side Stephen Root who plays Hymie, portrays the outspoken ‘B’ filmmaker Frank King. Goodman’s King may just have the best comic line in the entire film. When chasing out a representative of the “opposition” Frank states that he makes films “for the p*ssy and the money, both of which are falling out of the trees,” One of those moments that if this was not what Frank really said, it should have been.

The true star of this film, however, is Cranston. He brings the legend that was Dalton Trumbo to life. Whether sitting in his bathtub telling Nikki off for disturbing him or attempting to survive in prison, the actor lends a realism to the Oscar winning writer who was blacklisted by a combination of well meaning patriots and vicious politicians with hidden agendas.  Although Hedda Hopper cannot be said to be either.  This vitriolic and strident gossip columnist could well be the template that some modern  writers strive to follow. (Ann Coulter for instance?)

The music, sets, cinematography and costumes in this film all combine to bring a breath of truth to the proceedings. Just as the mix of news reel footage of the time takes the viewer back to a most shameful time in the land  of the free so too do all these other elements bring the audience back to a different world.

There are things that have been “altered” or that annoy.  These few moments take nothing away from the film.  Part of the problem has to do with that ever present curse of biopic features that  deal with stars of yesteryear. Granted, finding a modern actor who could convincingly portray “Duke” Wayne, who had a life long love affair with America, would be difficult and it was.

The unenviable task fell to David James ElliottMichael Stuhlbarg was left to bring Edward G. Robinson to life, Dean O’Gorman was Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger was played by Christian Berkel. All the actors carried off their roles with varying degrees of success if one forgave that only O’Gorman came close to looking like the real performers the were meant to portray.

Cranston, as Trumbo, carries off the look and the sound of the legend and more importantly, the spirit of the man.  This film is a testament to the drive and tenacity of Trumbo as well as his overwhelming talent.

Director Jay Roach takes the John McNamara screenplay, adapted from Bruce Cook’s novel and breaths life into a time that many in the audience have only read about, if even that.  The communist witch hunts, lead later by McCarthy, got their start here in the land of dreams.

The stage was set by world events, as stated in the film’s introductory titles, making this, perhaps, an inevitability.  Roach captures the time and the feelings of a bygone era to great effect and come award time, Trumbo should sweep the gongs on offer.

This is easily the best film to come out this year, in the area of biopic/docudrama and features actors who all are well known for delivering first class performances. John Goodman, Alan Tudyk and Louis C.K. all give first rate portrayals. While Goodman is up for Best Supporting actor, he may be pipped at the post by Schulman’s vulnerable and touching performance as Edward G. Robinson, whom the committee forced to crawl and beg his way back to work. 

This is easily this critic’s favorite film, despite the bits that “do not fit exactly.”  Any biopic, especially one so long after the fact, will fictionalize, or alter certain time periods and facts, in order to make the story more entertaining and palatable.  Film, by the very nature of the medium, fictionalizes any “true story” or event. Trumbo is not exception, but it does not do so frivolously or senselessly, it alters for the over all good of the story.

Trumbo should be seen by all who have heard of Dalton Trumbo, the blacklist, Spartacus. Roman Holiday, Hedda Hopper or the Un-American Committee.  The film should also be seen by anyone who loves a hero, an intelligent and talented writer of creative works and Bryan Cranston.

This is a 5 star film and one that, thus far, falls into the category of favorite film of 2015. If you watch nothing else, watch this one and then when it garners praise at the award’s ceremonies later, you will not be surprised.

Con Man: Alan Tudyk Vimeo Series Ends on a High

Sean Astin, Alan Tudyk and Nolan North

Alan Tudyk’s homage to all things convention-al, as in Con (vention) Man on Vimeo has ended on a hilarious high note. The last three episodes were released on October 21, aka BTTF day, and had some of the funniest moments yet. Apart from all this humor and nods, winks and hat doffing to Firefly, Tudyk, and his gang, decided reward all those fans who plunked out to rent the entire series.

Literally a day before the final trio of installments were aired, Alan, via Vimeo, announced that those of us who forked out for the whole shooting match, as it were, now own the series and can watch it “until the end of time.” Or something along those lines…

This is a pretty epic turn of events for anyone who: a) was not on board to fund the project but excited about it anyway and b) or finds Tudyk’s comedic talents naturally funny.  Remember Alan was adept at comic performances as long ago as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story which was years before Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

The last episodes had more of Fillion and included the lovely, and oh so funny Amy Acker who proved that she too is incredibly adept at comedy.  It also saw the return of Alison Haislip as Jack’s assistant (Only mentioned because this reviewer has a huge crush on this performer because not only is she gorgeous but her comedy chops are strong as well…just saying.).

Kudos to Skyler Day, there cannot be many performers who can pull off “blissfully stoned” so well and to that “fat-suit” placed on Liza Lapira. Not since the Korean high school horror flick Wishing Stairs has there been so convincing a prosthetic. 

Fans who coughed up donations for this comic fest of in-jokes and cameos by a plethora of Joss Whedon alumni and the big guy himself, must be pleased. There were bits by those who are not from the Whedon “stable” like Michael Dorn and Casper Van Dien as the bartender (a number of times) and other “icons” in Geekdom like Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. Along with many others from the science fiction world.

Some of the middle bits, those with Leslie Jordan failed to connect with this viewer but fortunately the video game voiceover artist that is legend, aka Nolan North being part of the series, along with a number of other favorites and sly winks to Firefly made up for  the lackluster bit in the middle. Also a quick peek at Jewel Staite in full Captain Mal garb was another lovely treat.

Stand out moment of the last three episodes (apart from the sleeping pee scene in Jack’s bathroom) had to be Jack Donner and his 90 year-old “lady stuntman” schtick. The scene between Mindy Sterling and Donner has me in hysterics. Note to other viewers, if easily embarrassed do not watch this scene in a fast food restaurant. 

Honorary shout out to Fillion’s running about with the cops handgun, as Jack, and “Screw Vegas.” Amy Acker channels her inner crazy beautifully.

As anyone who has ever attended a comic con, or Star Trek convention, or any themed con, will recognize the madness and excitement levels that are all apart of these events.  This is also a lovely way to see many of the old Firefly and Serenity players together, albeit mostly via cameos, but together all the same.

Alan Tudyk’s Con Man ends on a high note and the Vimeo series was funny as well as fun.  Enjoyable gags and great cameos make this one heck of a great series.  Check it out and prepare laugh all the way through.

 

 

Con Man: The Hilarity Continues on Vimeo

Alan Tudyk in Con Man

Alan Tudyk’s Con Man (short for Convention Man) continues to shine on Vimeo. Some fans have complained that the price of viewing all the hilarious antics of Tudyk’s character is too steep.  If one rents the entire “season” it does work out to be a little on the dear side.  While the overall tempo of the series is a little uneven, the bits with Leslie Jordon sagged and felt forced. This could, however, be down to the viewers personal taste and not from the material on hand.

Each episode of Con Man is presented in “blocks” of three or more.  the initial offerings were presented on October 1, and included three episodes and guest star Felicia Day. The next release date, October 7,  made four further episodes available and the last “installment,” October 14, went back to three.

The end result of this shotgun release of episodes is appreciated as having to wait for, say another week, for the next 10 to 17 minute installment would have been frustrating. With a number of segments that can be viewed in one sitting, the action, even the bits with Leslie Jordan, moves smoothly and the comedy has a sort of continuity.

The series, if one can call it that, is improving with each multiple release. The last trio of episodes were beyond hysterical.  With Wray Nerely (Tudyk) being fired from a video game voice over session (with veteran voice over artist Nolan North and Milo Ventimiglia staying on) and then getting a call from his old Spectrum buddy, and costar, Jack (Nathan Fillion) about doing a film together and Milo offering up a comic book gig that pays $5K.

At Jack’s house, Wray gets bad news from Faith (Alison Haislip) while playing Marco Polo. Later at the comic book store an inebriated Nerely manages to insult his marine assistant and barely escapes a mob out for his blood. Said mob includes Michael Dorn, Seth Green   and Kevin Grevioux

The last three episodes are beyond hysterical as Wray stumbles from one disaster to another.  One scene, with Ventimiglia, where Nerely keeps putting his elbow in what looks to be paint, is spot on.  With his booking agent texting him repeatedly throughout the interaction between Wray, the dumpster and Milo.

Each episode feels like a “spot the celeb” or even spot the science fiction icon, or Firefly costar, Gina Torres, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau and Fillion all are in Con Man, although Fillion is billed as “starring” and the rest are in cameos.  Rather interestingly, Maher has an incredibly long cameo, lasting over three episodes.

The entire series, which is getting funnier with each episode, feels like a sort of science fiction convention potpourri. There are performers associated with Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica,  et al, along with Geek Goddess Felicia Day,  the iconic Wil Wheaton and Seth Green as well as a plethora of “names” like Nolan North (who is, perhaps,  the man who has voiced more video games than anyone…ever).

Con Man cast...partial...

Con Man has only three episodes left in its first season.  Wray Nerely has gotten the worst possible news and while Jack, his film star buddy from Spectrum is overjoyed at the prospect of doing a film with his old pal, Wray is beyond distraught.

This fan-funded project, via Indiegogo.com is  a real treasure. Sure, at $15 for the entire season it is a bit “costly.” But…For fans of science fiction, Joss Whedon (and yes Joss has a cameo), Firefly, The Guild, and all things geek and sundry (see what we did there) and who actually suffer “nerdgasms”  at the thought of attending the  next  Comic Con?

It is so worth it.

Con Man, playing on a Vimeo screen near you…or on your laptop, tablet, smartphone…well  you get the idea…

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