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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Eps. 7 & 8 Review

The final episodes have hit the web! Watch ’em before you read–spoilers ahead!

Watch Play It Again, Dick episode 7 on CW Seed.

Now watch episode 8.

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Episode 7 opens with a behind-the-scenes testimonial from Daran Norris (Cliff McCormack) talking about how wonderful it is to work on this labor of love for such a close friend. The camera pulls back to show Ryan behind him offering directorial coaching on the next take. Daran calls him a “fuzzy little prick,” does some voice over-style talking and leaves.

When we enter the Private Dick episode, we’re thrown into a sex scene, this time with Rose McIver’s “horny mourner.” It’s not nearly as funny as the earlier sex scene with Madison. Post-coitus, Dick gets a vision of Beaver–at this point it occurs to me that he only sees Beaver after seeing beaver, which is a sneaky sort of joke to pull. Beaver mentors Dick on how to solve the case which boils down to locating the corner pieces of the puzzle.

Walking by Weevil’s place of death, Dick notices tacos from room service waiting half eaten outside the door. He does that finger-test-taste thing and determines that these are “Tacos de los Muertes.” Cut to Ryan explaining he got a Spanish coach for those lines to show cultural respect. Then cut to a dense parody of badly-dubbed martial arts movies. Oh, irony.

Dick goes to the kitchen where three Asian men are working. Two leave in a dubbed hysteria while the third readies for hand-to-hand combat. Here’s where we discover Daran was used for the voice acting, though clearly the actor playing the Asian fighter speaks perfect English. I’m not even half the authority on tropes of martial arts films that I might claim to be on film noir, but that’s not a requirement for the scene to be funny. As Dick gains the upper hand in the fight, his opponent hits the floor and Dick repeatedly punches him. The-Silence-of-the-Lambs-hannibal-lector-5080698-1020-576The low angle of the shot is reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs.

But then the episode pulls the first of its Scooby Doo reveals. Dick pulls a plastic mask off of the Asian cook to reveal Kane Software’s muscle man, Clarence Wiedman. Dick demands to know why Wiedman killed Weevil and Keith. Wiedman says, “You already know. You’ve always known.”

Cut to actor Christopher Duncan (Wiedman) finding out he’s not getting paid and leaving the set.

Episode 8 picks up directly after the reveal in the kitchen. Veronica arrives at the bed and breakfast and is greeted by Madison, who pulls a gun on her and starts to fire. In an acted slow motion, Dick jumps in front of the bullet, saving Veronica. He is not shot–did she miss at close range? No, Madison has been shot–did the bullet ricochet off of his holstered gun? No, Wallace shot her from the unseen next room. He’s gone all gangsta, just like Percy wanted.

But wait, Dick reveals that Madison also wears a plastic mask, revealing Celeste Kane underneath. She gets some villainous explanatory lines, but it doesn’t matter. Then Dick goes to Wallace and begins to explain that he isn’t actually Wallace. “Whitey say what?” Wallace yelps while his face begs to keep the ownership of the gangsta-style shooting. But no, underneath the Wallace-mask is Duncan. Except Duncan is being played by Ryan Devlin, season 3’s serial rapist Mercer. Veronica is overjoyed to see “Duncan” again, and there is heavy sucking of face between them.

Cut to Devlin talking about how his previous role would have prevented his casting as Duncan, but, hey, he got to kiss Kristen Bell! Being one of many fans who felt the whole serial rapist storyline in season 3 was distasteful at best, I had mixed feelings about this twist, and it soured the ending of the show a little bit.

piad8Then, finally, we get the dance number. It goes on too long, but the song choice of “No Mediocre” is ironically brilliant. After all, Private Dick is awful.

The final scene is back in the CW board room with the producers. They pass on the show saying their demographic is accustomed to…competence. Ryan, heartbroken, leaves.

Then we get the credits dance sequence which is also set to “No Mediocre” but now features all of our beloved Veronica Mars cast members getting their groove on with Ryan. The brief moment of Ryan dancing with Ken Marino made me laugh out loud.

All in all, I was underwhelmed by the final two episodes. But the series as a whole was fun if a bit forgettable.


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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Ep. 6 Review

I was pleased to see that episode 6 keeps the pacing and humor going. Do give it a watch before reading on if you’d prefer not to be spoiled. And now that we’re actually into the plot of the show within the show, there are spoilers to the murder mystery Dick is investigating.

Watch episode 6 here on CWSeed.

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Very little of the episode is the meta-story of creating “Private Dick,” so the whole episode flies by. I had to double check that’d I’d really just watched an 8-minute show–it felt much, much shorter.

What we do get is Ryan responding to whether it was a difficult decision to kill off Weevil. He says all the great shows do it, listing many contemporary examples but focusing on Game of Thrones. He says he was up for the part of Jon Snow but that they weren’t sure about his English accent. Then he delivers part of the vows made by the Night’s Watch initiates in a quite average British accent. This is funny for being so out of place. The brain just automatically starts imagining Ryan in the role. He tops it off by asking, “What does England have to do with Westeros?”

After this we continue the rough cut of “Private Dick” with Dick meeting Madison upstairs in one of the B&B’s rooms. The parody of detective-oriented film noir tropes are all here: obtrusive voice over, the sexy femme fatale in Madison, the snappy dialogue dripping with innuendo, the scarred detective drinking his pain away. The dialogue between Dick and Madison starts in double entendre and ends in explicitness. Of course, there’s also that big case that the detective is haunted by. Here Beaver returns as a ghost to consult on the Weevil case. He tries once again to convince Dick that he jumped from the roof of the Grand, referencing the finale of Veronica Mars season 2. Madison asks Dick where Veronica is. He explains she’s got a big open house–this is a buyer’s market. Relegating Veronica to being a real estate agent is absurd in a hilarious way. This is the best scene in the whole series thus far. More please!

By the way, the explicitness highlights a truth about Veronica Mars–it was always bordering on the sexually overt. Two brothers named Dick and Beaver? That’s not subtle.

Dick goes downstairs to find Keith Mars, via Skype, questioning witnesses. He’s been hired by a wealthy mystery woman (who has a Hugh Hefner-type husband and two dead kids). Clearly this is Celeste Kane. Why would she hire Keith to find Weevil’s murder? The dick, er, I mean, plot thickens.

Dick announces to Keith that he’s a P.I. now and this is his case. Keith attempts to get Dick to realize he’s in over his, ahem, head. Dick insinuates Keith is old. Dick attempts to make the point that the key is his stolen sunglasses. Then Keith receives a sandwich he didn’t order from room service. He takes a few bites then starts choking and foaming at the mouth, like Weevil did. His final words are to pass along a house being sold by owner for Veronica to check out.

The parody is high and the jokes land. I look forward to the continuation of Dick’s detective adventures.


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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Ep. 5 Review

Wow, they’d nearly lost me after the last episode ran boring, but FINALLY we have footage!

Spoilers ahoy, yo. BTW, the episode is absolutely worth watching.

Click here —> Play It Again, Dick Episode 5 on the CWSeed.

piad5It’s first day on set of “Private Dick.” Ryan announces he likes his directing loose, like your mom. Jason Dohring shows up wearing ill-fitting Navy whites (likely an homage to the Veronica Mars movie where fans complained about the poor fit for his tight bod). Jason has just finished the script and is none too pleased at his lame lines and character inconsistencies: “You have my mom dropping me off. My mom is dead! Did you ever even watch the show?!” And I’m back in. Jason storms off the set but then has second thoughts, deciding that Ryan is like a brother and he can’t back out over lines in a script. However, by the time he returns, Ryan has already recast Logan with the gay choreographer from last episode. Jason sees this, hangs his head low, and leaves again–nobody notices but us. Already, this episode is much faster moving than the last couple. The set-up is done, and now we get to see those machinations play out.

PlayItAgainDick2The footage from the show is fantastically bad. Apparently Duncan Kane is dead by great white shark and his classmates have gathered for the clothing-optional funeral. The picture of Duncan displayed isn’t even the right guy. Weevil comes in, greets Dick, and quotes an unintelligible series of sentences about life and death by Jorge Luis Borges. After complimenting Dick on his Steve McQueen sunglasses, Weevil gives the eulogy by quoting Shakespeare–he over-emotes. Single reaction shots of other Neptune characters we know and loathe/love draw attention to Ryan’s difficulty getting the various actors together on the same day.

“Private Dick” has a cheesy-bad voice-over and the 70’s style film quality of some late night grindhouse flick. It’s exploitation-parody, given to us through the innocent douchebaggery of Dick Casablancas. He’s too much of a buffoon to really despise for his sexism and ultra-masculinity. “First rule of Casablancasas, Navarro–Every action has an equal and opposite Dick-action.”

A couple of fun meta moments:

  1. When Weevil is found dead, Dick files his case under “Hear No Weevil, See No Weevil.” This is a send-up of the punny Veronica Mars episode titles like “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang” or “Weevils Wobble But they Don’t Go Down.”
  2. In the show footage, “Logan” ends the scene by saying, “Blow to the scene to come.” Cut to Ken Marino explaining that “blow” is a term for a scene ending joke or zinger, and that line was just a placeholder for the joke he hadn’t written yet, but that no one noticed.

So hooray for the show finally getting to the footage and returning to the funny.


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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Ep. 4 Review

kenReason to watch the episode: Ken Marino.

Also appearing: Francis Capra doing a late Marlon Brando imitation.

As in the past reviews, spoilers. So do check out the episode here first if you’re concerned about that sort of thing.

To be honest, the conceit is wearing a bit thin. I need the show to get out of Ryan Hansen’s living room. I enjoy seeing all of the cast members riff with Ryan, but when it’s each of them separately, it loses charm.

The dialogue actually hangs a bell on this. Ryan wants to pull in Ken Marino as his writer, since Ken has Final Draft. Ryan has shared who has signed on to help with their scheduling limitations: Enrico’s in Toronto, Kristin, Francis, Percy, and Jason all have one day to commit but those days don’t overlap. Ken summarizes the whole situation as: “fucktarded.” It’s the best moment of the episode. In general, Ken’s jovial dismissal of Ryan is golden. Ken says he sees this as Ryan’s thing, that Ryan is an auteur. He’s doing a showbiz blow-off.

Prior to that, we had Ryan’s meeting with Francis Capra, who played Weevil on Veronica Mars. Francis complains to Ryan about how Rob Thomas never cared about the craft. They never had time in rehearsals to talk about their characters’ inner demons. He states that his tattoos were for verisimilitude–all of his 30 IMDB credits have been criminals, and he’s chosen to embrace that. But he bemoans the loss of his true acting days, when he won an award for playing Henry V. He does part of the “Band of Brothers” speech. He calls on Ryan to give him something to challenge his acting chops.

Watchers of the show know that Francis has had some weight ups and downs over the seasons and movie. Well, his weight’s back up, and they dressed him in all black, to minimize the weight? With the diatribe about motivation and inner demons and acting, I couldn’t help but think of Apocalypse Now-era Marlon Brando. Coppolla also dressed him in black to hide the weight he’d put on.

Also in the episode is Gaston, the big dance number choreographer, who is stereotypically gay. That part fell pretty flat for me.


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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Ep. 3 Review

I was a bit wary that the episodes of Play It Again, Dick would become a bit monotonous. However, episode to episode has built on new ways of viewing the characters we loved from Veronica Mars and the actors who played them. In this week’s episode, Enrico Colantoni and Percy Daggs III are propositioned by Ryan Hansen to appear in his spin-off.

Watch the episode here. Spoilers to follow.

Ryan introduces Enrico with stories from the set. These stories of how Enrico works as an actor are the exact opposite of the lovable Keith Mars he played in the show. Ryan tells us of Enrico’s midnight trips to Tijuana for cock fighting or bull fighting and his returns to the set in the morning covered in blood.

When Ryan gets Enrico on Skype, Enrico is psyched to do the project without pay–for the art! He just has one favor to ask Ryan. He goes on to detail how to pick up this package from a criminal-sounding man and deliver it to Tom Hanks. The implications are that Enrico is trying to kill Hanks. Finally Enrico tells Ryan his schedule is completely open for the spin-off but that he can’t enter into the States due to tax evasion. The criminal aspect of all of this unsettles Ryan in an amusing way and ironically clashes with the Keith Mars image.

When Percy Daggs shows up, he too clashes with his lovable character Wallace’s image. Percy’s now sporting a suit and bling, wearing a headwrap that suggests he’s Muslim and spouting black-power statements at Ryan. He demands that Wallace not be asked to do any “p*ssy” stuff, like flying remote control airplanes or getting taped to a flag pole. He’s got three hours to offer Ryan.

PAD-103-Episode3-NoWM_b2e1f8063_CWtv_720x400While this conversation goes on, Rose McIver, Once Upon a Time‘s Tinkerbell and star of Rob Thomas’s new show iZombie, bursts in the front door looking for a bathroom. She’s dressed in short shorts and is carrying a bottle of liquor. Percy had told her to wait in the car. Now she’s Ryan’s problem.

Ryan closes the episode by putting a star on both actors’ headshots, indicating he’s got them on board, but the audience knows that he’s unlikely to actually be able to work them into a shooting schedule. These two actors have Ryan at their mercy.

So this episode explores the darker sides of two characters who are generally beloved. The humor is more blue and more violent in its implications. It’s less out-and-out funny than the first two episodes, but more ironic and deconstructive of fan expectations.


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‘Play It Again, Dick’ Ep. 2 Review

First, my review will be full of the spoilers, so do take a gander at the actual video first, found here on CW Seed.

playitagainep2

We get to see three new familiar faces in the second episode of Play It Again, Dick: Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, Jason Dohring (Logan), and Chris Lowell (Piz). Each of them respond to the news of the spin-off series in different but amusing ways.

Thomas doesn’t believe the studio would green-light a Mars spin-off without his knowledge or involvement. He states he’s a big producer for them, like Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals). The joke here is that Thomas has been jerked around by plenty of studio execs in his time–it’s a “gotta laugh to keep from crying” kind of thing.

Jason hears about the micro-budget new show while playing video games at Ryan’s house. This is smoothly edited out of the “Previously on…” to match cut with the clip from last week where Ryan gets the sum of $50,000 to make the pilot. Jason, not concerned about Rob’s non-involvement, immediately sees the possibility for a buddy detective show, like Starsky and Hutch. Ryan passive-aggressively tries to deflate Jason’s wide-eyed aspirations by countering with Batman and Robin. Much of the comedy of this show thus far has been derived from the lack of understanding characters have. Jason remains clueless to Ryan’s subtle hints that it will not be a dual-star show. Instead, once he realizes the film crew is there to capture footage for the DVD special features, the muscle shirt comes off. We get a cut to Jason doing shirtless pull-ups while Ryan does arm curls on the couch. Young hot people forgetting to put their shirts on! Jason comes up with a new name: Joker and the Ace. He even comes up with a billboard motto: Joker and the Ace, cruising for a couple of Queens! Then he realizes the malapropism and decides they’ll re-shoot that with the crew cracking up for the blooper real. The meta is strong in this one.

Continuing the lack of awareness of homosexual innuendo, Ryan bridges the Jason and Chris Lowell scenes with a discussion of Team Logan and Team Piz shirts saying that the winning t-shirt by sales were the ones that read Team Dick. Many were men’s size L, but that there was plenty of him for the larger ladies. This is only funny because Dick’s character was so chauvinistically homophobic and clueless.

But the true beauty of this episode is Chris Lowell’s appearance. Ryan gets him on Skype to tell him about the project and Chris is in detached dismay at the prospect. He is living in a modern New York loft and radiates disdain for Ryan and his “ptorpedo” username and far-too-revealing avatar. There are many dick jokes, as one would expect. When Ryan asks him once again to play Piz, Chris uses the spare, comedic f-word to refuse and then gets up to storm away from the computer. Turns out: no pants. The gross implications clash hilariously with the do-gooder character of Piz. Meta-zing!

So all in all, a humorous episode that builds to the end. I was disappointed to not see any shots from the show, but since Ryan is still “getting the band back together,” it probably makes more sense to expect those in later episodes.


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Review: ‘Play It Again, Dick’ Episode 1

play-it-again-dick-poster

Watch the first episode of Play It Again, Dick here.

First things first, the opening shot is straight out of Apocalypse Now, panning over the accouterments of Dick’s bedside (sex wax, Boner Express pills, trashy earrings, and condoms of many colors), sliding by his iPhone playing the message of last night’s forgotten woman (and client), while he slumbers, spooned up with his dog. Okay, so it’s no Saigon, but its classic 1970’s P.I. television. Jason Dohring appears lounging with him on deck chairs, looking like he’s definitely spent some time in the Navy gym. Inserted is part of (or an homage to) the dance video that went viral during the Veronica Mars Kickstarter excitement.

This is the title sequence to ‘Play It Again, Dick,’ the show within the show, which Ryan Hansen is showing to Kristen Bell in an attempt to get her on board and sign the waiver for appearing. His cluelessness sproings humorously off of her mild disbelief. She’s got all sorts of reasons not to but also doesn’t believe he’s got a chance of getting it green lit. At best Dick Casablancas was a nobody on the show, at worst he was a minor villain. But he does get his pilot. The jokes on her, and the laughter is for us Marshmallows who love their antagonistic chemistry.

I’m hoping that the series will continue giving us snippets of the show Ryan is making, full of homages to Magnum P.I. and Starsky and Hutch, along with the meta angle of Ryan trying to rope in his former Veronica Mars cast members. Pretty much everyone you could want is on tap to guest star.

But even if you’ve never watched the show from which this potentially spins off, the dopey ambition Ryan exhibits still has the charm and humor to entertain and ensnare.