Wiseau Invades The Small Screen In The Neighbors
The Neighbors poster
In 2003, an unknown filmmaker with a modest budget made a film that has become a camp classic. While The Room was a failure in its initial release, director Tommy Wiseau saw his feature film debut (and his only feature to date) become a draw as a midnight feature that brought all sorts of camp fan to the screen. After directing a short documentary and a music video, Wiseau returned to the director's chair with the 2015 Hulu series The Neighbors. The six episode show is set entirely within the confines of a complex called the Glasgow Apartments, which is sometimes called The Nest. Wiseau plays two roles in this season: Charlie, the apartment manager, and Ricky Rick, a casual acquaintance of Charlie's who's the son of a billionaire Charlie knows. Ricky Rick, though, has a much more casual attitude about business than Charlie, and he has a reputation as a troublemaker.
The building tenants and staff include a wide range of characters. Charlie has an assistant named Bebe (Gretel Roenfeldt) and a handyman named Ed (Jonathan Freed). Troy (Andrew Buckley) sells weed and weapons from his room. Tim (Raul Phoenix) spends his days playing basketball, and is seldom seen without one. Philadelphia (Karly Kim) wanders the building wearing nothing but a bikini. Princess Penelope (Charlotte Barlow) seems to be the poorest member of British royalty, as she spends part of her year living there. Cici (Pamelia Bailey) lives there with her roving pet chicken, Fifi. Other tenants include a pregnant woman who shares a place with the father of her baby and his boyfriend, a man who always unsuccessfully makes advances on the female tenants, and a witch.
I guess that when Wiseau developed The Neighbors, which the credits state is based on a novel by Wiseau, he had the notion of creating an ensemble piece like NBC's version of The Office. This show, in fact, has several scenes of the tenants together, usually in Charlie's office. While I was never a big fan of the show, the characters there had story lines and characters who did different things from show to show. Further, nobody in The Neighbors, many of whom have no other acting credits, has any real improvisational skill or concept of comic timing. Wiseau's sense of storytelling is, at best, minimal. Each episode has a beginning and an end, with virtually no meaningful exposition in between. One epsiode, for example, is a birthday celebration for one of the characters where everyone brings presents and shares a single bottle of champagne. The cake meanwhile, gets planted in the face of another character. The people here tend to spend a lot of time yelling at one another and obsessing about eating ice cream. Some of the talk gets mean, and would be deemed as socially inappropriate. Only a little bit seems to come out of nowhere, such as an actor dressed as Fidel Castro making a cameo appearance and a segue sequence that includes an eagle and a dinosaur.
Not only has Wiseau not improved as an actor, he also shamelessly uses this show to promote other products of his. Charlie's always fond of saying "What a day!" Several of the characters, including Ricky Rick, wear a brand of underpants with Wiseau's name on it. Ricky Rick also wears a sports jacket with his initials on the front and the name of the show on the back. He also likes to use the slap and the arm motion sound effects a little too much. Like the rest of the cast, he seems to be making up his lines as he goes along, but none of it has the jaw-dropping awfulness he displayed in The Room.The DVD extras include ads featuring Wiseau in ads for American Fashions, where he dresses as Hamlet, and TW underwear, where he dresses as Ricky Rick and appears with other actors from the show. The music video he directed, California I Follow by Corsica Arts Club, also features Wiseau as Ricky Rick, and shows the band clad in The Neighbors jackets and TW underwear.
According to Wiseau's TheNeighborsSitcom.com website, Wiseau expects season two of The Neighbors to be available for viewers in 2017. The Internet Movie Database indicates one season two episode was made in 2016, but I have been only seen a promotional clip for it on Wiseau's YouTube channel. I'm sure Wiseau's most rabid fans will eagerly await the return of The Neighbors if and when it comes, but this show was too painful for me to binge watch. The Neighbors, unlike The Room, is catastrophe minus almost all of the camp that endeared people to the film. Anyone who though production values couldn't get worse than Wiseau presented in The Room will find themselves sadly mistaken. Wiseau has changed from an earnest auteur to one who seems to not care one way or the other. The Neighbors shows a man whose sense of film infamy has gone to his head. This show does not build on his bad reputation in a good way. It will simply make Wiseau followers leave and, potentially, never return.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give The Neighbors zero stars. Worthy of an eviction notice.