James Wolk In Lone Star On Fox

July 17, 2010

James WolkJames Wolk (the shirtless man seen at right), will be starring in a new drama series on Fox, titled Lone Star, "a provocative soap set against the backdrop of big Texas oil."

The summary of the show on Fox’s web site states, "ROBERT/ BOB ALLEN (newcomer James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives in two different parts of Texas. He’s juggling two identities and two women in two very different worlds – all under one mountain of lies."

Well, James Wolk is not really a "newcomer". He appeared with much praise in the 2008 made-for-television movie Front of the Class (under the name Jimmy Wolk), in which he played a real-life teacher afflicted with Tourette Syndrome. It’s taken a little while, but now he’s back to heat up the screen.

Here is more of Fox’s description of the show:

As “Bob,” he lives in Houston and is married to CAT (Adrianne Palicki), the beautiful daughter of CLINT (Jon Voight), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s “Robert,” living a second life with his sweet, naïve girlfriend, LINDSAY (Eloise Mumford).

In Midland, he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly bilking local investors of their savings. In Houston, he’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out.

Bob has lived both lives successfully for years without arousing any suspicions…so far. While one brother-in-law, DREW (Bryce Johnson), admires Bob, his other brother-in-law, TRAMMELL (Mark Deklin), is suspicious of his motives. Bob begins to fear his secret lives may unravel. With the cons closing in on him, Bob is divided by his love for two women; his loyalty to his father and mentor, JOHN (David Keith); and his respect for his father-in-law, Clint.

Now as he tries to hold his two lives together, while fending off angry investors and the suspicions of those around him, Bob puts it all on the line hoping he can beat the odds, leave the schemes behind and keep two separate relationships afloat.

James Wolk

Jeffery & Cole Casserole

July 12, 2010

Cole EscolaThe gay comedy duo of Jeffery Self and Cole Escola returned to Logo TV for a second season of their comedy sketch show Jeffery & Cole Casserole. The first season of Jeffery & Cole Casserole was a clever and witty addition to summer TV in 2009, so a second season in 2010 was favorably anticipated. Unfortunately, the second season appears to be only a caricature of the first. The unlikely and well-received quality drawn from a show about two guys doing amateur videos now looks like just two guys doing an amateur video.

There is a rumor that Logo paid Self and Escola a very small sum of money for an entire season worth of product. Perhaps for the second season, the pair decided to give the company what it paid for, and intentionally decided to deliver a load of crap. It doesn’t help the viewer if that were true, but at least it would make the two of them not look like they have run out creativity.

In the first season they made an attempt to create something of quality and they succeeded. The second season is woefully missing that quality. The absurdity they used in season one was like Lewis Carroll; in season two it was like Dumb and Dumber. It changed from an avant-garde art project to something made by a teenage straight boy in his cul-de-sac in suburban Des Moines.

Several things have changed. One of the cute things about the first season was that Jeffery & Cole played almost all the roles in their sketches. When they did occasionally have additional cast, the actors played gray, background characters that practically blended into the scenery and didn’t alter the sense of J&C living in their own private universe. The actors were friends of J&C who helped fill in where needed. Now it looks like all their friends are being inserted prominently into the show as favors to give them face time. It ruins the sense of the show being exclusively about J&C.

Another thing that alters the nature of the show from being how two young guys could take a cheap webcam and a very limited space and set of props and make something wonderful, is now they have a professional camera and they record further afield. It doesn’t feel anymore like two kids making comedy to amuse themselves in their apartment on a rainy day.

They reused some bits from their first season but they not only didn’t improve them, they did them worse. Their “marry, f’ck or kill” game in the first season was done as serious but with a weird hilarious twist in it. This go-around was just amateurish as they giggled their way through it. They aren’t even trying anymore to be clever.

An essential element of absurdist comedy is presenting situations as if they were normal and serious but have some bizarre aspect inserted into them. The absurdity is treated as a normal event, thus producing the comedy. In season two, Jeffery & Cole keep laughing at their own material, ruining the effect of the surrealism.

The show is not a complete crapfest. There are still some funny moments in it, largely from Cole Escola’s wonderful comedic performances. However, the show needs to get back to its successful elements from its first season if it wants to recapture the achievements and glory of season one.

(Sometimes misspelled as Jeffrey & Cole Casserole.)

Jeffery And Cole Casserole

July 9, 2009

Cole EscolaJeffery & Cole Casserole is a low-budget, television comedy sketch show on Logo that capitalizes on the popularity of vlogs and YouTube channels. It stars the fresh-faced gay duo of Cole Escola and Jeffery Self, a comedy team who had been making funny videos and posting them on YouTube before being signed to do the show.

Each episode is a collection of short sketches that are either part of the episode’s main storyline or are totally unrelated (hence, the “casserole”). They have the look of many YouTube videos because they are recorded with a webcam, and (wanting to keep the feel of Jeffery and Cole’s earlier work) are intentionally made to look like something someone recorded in their bedroom or backyard.

In fact, most of the scenes are recorded in Jeffery Self’s apartment, just like the guy’s original YouTube vids. As part of their deal with Logo, they also get to continue to write, direct, edit their own material. The humor style they employ is surrealistic, where an otherwise realistic situation has some strange, absurd twist that is treated as normal and expected. The absurdity and the reactions to it generate the laughs. It’s a modern, gay, studio apartment size version of Monty Python.

Jeffery Self and Cole Escola are both New York City transplants who happened to meet socially, become friends, and then start making videos together. Most of their YT videos didn’t have many “views”, but they figured out the power of search keywords and then things started really taking off. They named themselves VGL (Very Good Looking) Gay Boys because they knew people would search for videos using such words. With that and a few other well chosen video titles, they did succeed in getting a few videos into the 6 digit range of viewership.

Logo noticed their videos and after seeing one of their live bar shows, approached them with a television deal. Logo needed some new material and presumably didn’t want to pay much for it, so it was a great deal for the company.

The show can be quite funny at times, especially as it showcases the comedic talents of Cole Escola. His delivery and expressions are perfect for the absurdist style of the show. Jeffery Self is the “straight man” in the duo, or perhaps one could call him a “prop comic” – not, in the regular sense, but rather, next to the comic (Cole), Jeffery is just a prop. However, the team does seem to work and for what it does to bring out the hilarious, over-the-top performance of Cole Escola, it makes Jeffery & Cole Casserole an entertaining bit of amusement for people who like their humor off-beat.

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