One of the most inspired comic miniseries that no one has ever seen, "The Pilot Season" was a terrifically fresh skewering of the television industry. Initially airing on TRIO (there's the problem right there, what's TRIO?), this show was pre-dated by the dubiously titled "Who's the Caboose?" A sly mockumentary from 1997, I was so excited to get my hands on this new DVD release. A look at two New York comedians (Sarah Silverman and Sam Seder) who travel to Los Angeles in an attempt to be hired for a network show, this movie has all the elements to be a cult hit. It's smart and astute about the industry and I was wholeheartedly invested in its ridiculousness. Unfortunately, the easy momentum of the film's first half loses its way and the film, although only 90 minutes, becomes over-repetitive on its way to the conclusion. But even if the film drags a bit, I think you still might want to take a look.
For nostalgia alone, "Who's the Caboose?" is a terrific find. In addition to Silverman and Seder, the movie boasts bit parts and supporting roles populated by names such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Laura Kightlinger, Kathy Griffin, Andy Kindler and H. Jon Benjamin. It's a veritable treasure trove of comic talent--even if not everyone has much to do. Silverman, as an aggressive ingenue, seeks success at any cost while her mild mannered boyfriend Seder becomes a more unexpected Hollywood discovery. Both find their ups and downs in the ruthless entertainment world, but it may not be a land where their romance can survive. Filmed by a fictional documentary crew, the film has the confessional style of modern reality TV and the unsuspecting videographers often become part of the inherent drama. Dick, as Silverman's manager, and Benjamin, as Seder's promoter, are both spot-on in their hysterically over-the-top (yet surprisingly believable) depictions of industry insiders.
I loved the first half of the film, as I said, but my attention did begin to wane. If you are a fan of any of these comedians, this is an easy recommendation. Despite the silly title and head-scratching DVD cover, this film is much smarter than it might appear from its marketing. I mean. really, I don't think they could have picked a more ridiculous title (and maybe that's the point) but I'm afraid it might keep people away. If you like sly satire, mockumentary style narrative, or have an interest in the business of show--check out "Who's the Caboose?" Not perfect, but an interesting comic time capsule. About 3 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 3/11.