Fabulously Independent and Free Spirited Look at Hollywood
This continuation of Emma Caulfield's individualistic 2004 film "Bandwagon" follows up on the zany adventures of a fictionalized version of the life of its star. There is so much going on here that simply calling it "comic satire" doesn't do it justice. It is more a generalized look at the absurdities involved in getting ahead when you have to rely on other people to get there, the inherent drama of creative people, and how frustrating it can be when the best laid plans run amok. Imagine that you have gathered a group of your super-talented friends to create your own personal send-up of sheer human orneriness using your own status as a minor TV star for the starting point. That is "Bandwagon: The Series."
The film and this series blend together seamlessly. In fact, they chopped the film up into episodes and called that "Season 1" and this "Season 2." So, this is a review of both the film and the series, because they are really the same thing - well, it's a little confusing, but you get the point, hopefully. Anyway, our heroine, "Emma," is a brilliant and quirky Hollywood actress who, to her professional chagrin, is famous and perhaps a bit typecast solely due to a TV role she played years before. She has a fine reputation and connections all over town but hasn't yet quite scaled that wall to the "A" list. So, looking to raise her own profile as much as anything else, she embarks on a Quixotic adventure to show how much she "cares." Rather than adopting an African orphan or whatever else the "A" list types are doing these days, Emma instead decided to be creative by charitably advancing the career of one "Tubie" (an outstanding Karri Bowman, who also directs). Tubie is a mentally challenged waitress with acting aspirations who just happens to serve Emma lunch one day. This plays out in decidedly unexpected and explosive ways which bring out the best - and worst - in everybody involved.
There are wacky high concept - creation of a "Ghetto Glee" TV show - and low concept - traumatized after getting turned down for a film role due to her age, Emma goes to a pet store and does something, um, dramatic - ideas throughout. Both the movie and the series end with pie-in-the-face type moments of revelations of sheer comic horror that give everyone a chance to let loose with emotional tsunamis of acting bravado. But you will probably be drawn in even by the mundane aspects of Hollywood life shown, such as the intricate politics behind planning a party or casting a show (both proved as equally vital to a career).
Tracie Thoms is a highlight as actress friend Tracie who finds out not once but twice that relying on other actors for career advice or advancement can be a double-edged sword. Sheilynn Wactor has some nice moments as Tracie's sassy sidekick. Look for occasional uncredited cameos by some of Emma's real-life "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" friends such as the legendary Joss Whedon and Tom Lenk. My only very minor quibbles are that the pace drags a bit whenever the ever-scheming Emma is absent for very long and that the episodes are much too brief. This obviously was done on a shoe-string budget, but that lends charm in a cinema verité kind of way.
A decided triumph by the hugely creative but sadly under-exposed Ms. Caulfield and her entire team. This showcases just how much talent lies bubbling under the surface in the film industry just waiting for the right moment to be recognized.
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