Young Drunk Punk Advance Review of “Pilot” and “Working for the Cowboy”
I was fortunate enough to get a get a screener for Kids in the Hall alum Bruce McCulloch’s new comedy for CityTV that premieres tonight at 8:30pm PT/ET.
CityTV describes the show as taking “viewers on a hilarious coming-of-age journey of two teenage boys living in raucous Calgary during the ‘80s. Inspired by McCulloch’s life, and told through his unique point-of-view, the series focuses on two young men – Ian (Tim Carlson) and Shinky (Atticus Mitchell) – who have recently graduated from high school and don’t quite feel that they belong. The series follows them as they embark on a hilarious and rebellious search to find out who they are, somewhere in the lost years between high school and “what’s next.””
McCulloch serves as not only its creator but its writer, executive producer and co-stars as Ian’s dad Lloyd. Rounding out the cast is Tracy Ryan (Nancy Drew) as Ian’s mother Helen, and Allie MacDonald (Lost Girl) as Ian’s sister Belinda.
CityTV provided this synopsis for the first episode:
Calgary Alberta; 1980: Young rebels, Ian and Shinky decide that instead of going to college or into the work force like their parents want, they must find their great destiny! But when Ian’s sister Belinda moves back home after a fight with her boyfriend, Ian becomes determined to restore Belinda’s honour, prove his father wrong, and blow some minds with power of punk!
The pilot episode was all about setting up the show’s premise. Ian and Shinky arrive at their high school graduation. They are the slacker type of students and cause mayhem at the ceremony by playing an awful album. The two young men kept on referring themselves as musical geniuses from the future. Of course, a fight breaks out at graduation which results in Ian and Shinky getting their diplomas withheld. Ian returns home to a party in honour of graduating high school. My question is if their son was graduating high school, how come his parents weren’t there. They would have seen what happened. My parents came to my graduation. Ian of course lies why there is he doesn’t have his diploma on him. His father Lloyd didn’t graduate high school and now runs their town house complex. Jokes are made about him investing in BETA for their security system. If you know anything BETA lost the video battle to VHS, which is like how HD DVD lost to Blu-Ray.
We are supposed to laugh as Ian and Shinky try to find well paying jobs with no high school diplomas. Laughs are also supposed to be made at Ian and Shinky’s attempt to take back Belinda’s stereo from an ex-boyfriend known as Cowboy #3 (because apparently Belinda has a type). Alas I didn’t. And I thought it was too easy for Ian and Shinky to get their diplomas by convincing their principle that their helping Belinda meant they had some personal growth. I honestly don’t believe the two learned anything from that experience considering that Ian erased the footage of him and Shinky stealing the complex’s golf cart.
This is obviously a Canadian show for a Canadian audience as earlier when Ian stated he was going to leave home, he listed a whole bunch of Canadian cities like Kelowna, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, as destinations. Of course, Ian decides not to leave home but his mom says that if he is going to stay that he will have to pay rent.
Jobs Applied for: Dishwasher, slaughterhouse worker, door-to-door salesperson.
The second episode, “Working for the Cowboy”, airing Wednesday January 28th at 8:30pm on CityTV has the following description:
Determined to not end up like his father, Ian takes a construction job with Shinky – but gets more than he bargained for when the boss turns out to be his sister’s scary ex-boyfriend, Cowboy #3 – who wants Ian to become a double agent by helping his new boss win back Belinda’s love. Back in Brae Vista, Lloyd tries to prove that he’s a ‘cool’ boss by being nice to his employees for a change.
There are a couple of running jokes in the show. First is Lloyd’s attempt to get Ian to wkr at Brae Vista, the townhouse complex that the family lives in and that Helen like to wear a variety of wigs. In the Pilot she sported a bob cut wig to attend the complexes BBQ and in the second episode it was a blonde Marilyn Monroe-esque wig.
In the second episode, laughs are supposed to be had with Cowboy #3 using Ian to get Belinda back. Ian and Shinky take a construction job after failing to secure a bar bouncer gig and pressure from Helen to get money so he can pay the rent. The foreman is Cowboy#3 who gives Ian a cushy office job to try and persuade Ian to help him get back together with Belinda. The construction crew are all fairly stock characters and we are supposed to laugh at Shinky’s attempt at fitting in with the crew. We are also supposed to find funny that a child would do electrical work at the site. While at first it seems that Cowboy #3 attempt to get Belinda back fails until Ian accidentally on purpose hurts himself to get on workers comp (an idea that Shinky) originally has. When Cowboy #3 brings Ian home, of course Belinda who find it hot and the two proceed to get back together. This is the part where I did laugh a bit. Before Belinda and Cowboy #3 get back together, the latter hands Ian off to his mom, who carries him into the house.
We are also suppose to laugh at Lloyd’s attempt at being a cool boss from him giving Timbits to his staff (I didn’t know that Timbits were around in 1980 but they were actually introduced in 1976). One bit I did find slightly funny was that Lloyd presented them with the two flavour option of chocolate and plain (I guess back them it wasn’t the variety that we have now). I don’t know why were are supposed to think it is funny to give beer to a recovering alcoholic to prove you are a cool boss.
After watching the first two episodes, for a comedy, I unfortunately barely laughed. The two occasions that I did are noted above. For a show that takes in place in 80s I was hoping to feel some nostalgia for the era but I didn’t except for the scene in the second episode when Ian was talking Polaroids of his family (but really to grab a shot of Belinda for Cowboy#3); this actually made me want to find my dad’s Polaroid.
Another issue I had with those was there were no characters that I liked.
I found the characters to be a bit stereotypical, in particular Shinky who, in the Pilot, comes across as the annoying best friend type who is overly attached to his friends family and doesn’t get the cues that he shouldn’t be around sensitive family matters.
Belinda too is a stereotype as the slutty selfish sister that I can’t see why she would be worth getting back together with.
The acting too is a bit flat, especially from Tracy Ryan and Allie Macdonald. To me, Ryan doesn’t quite look comfortable at playing a mother to two grown children. Probably the only slight bright spot is Bruce McCulloch who is fine as Lloyd but again his character is the stereotypical father and boss -stern, boring and uncool.
Also, if we are supposed to be rooting for Ian and Shinky to get their sh$%t together, unfortunately, the show doesn’t really do a good job at doing that. The show calls them rebels but I really do see them as more like lazy, slacker and directionless. I don’t know if this was a common theme for young people in the 1980s as I was only a really young child when this show takes place but I find their lack of purpose sort of annoying. Also for a show that emphasizes Ian and Shinky’s love of music (they are always buying vinyl records), there is a serious lack of 1980 music being played and maybe because the show can’t get the rights to them.
Here is another question: where does the show’s title come from? The young of course is Ian and Shinky, the punk could possibly refer to their taste in music but the drunk? There is really no drinking involved in the show.
I wanted to give this show a shot since I have liked Bruce McCulloch since he had a minor role as Fred Wright in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel and also the fact that show takes place in Canada and in an era that I grew up in but there isn’t enough nostalgia to want me to continue to watch this show. I just think that this show isn’t mind for someone in my demographic.
But if this is your kind of show then Young Drunk Punk airs on CityTV Wednesday at 8:30pm PT/ET starting on January 21, 2015.
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