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Pop Quiz Hotshot (2015)
An embarrassment, and perhaps the most transparent evidence of theft ever captured on film
The show was funded by crowdsourcing, the project raised $90,000 of devoted fans' money and THIS was the result? Cheap sets--abominably cheap mind you, like $500 at most. Ridiculously low budget and pointless "physical challenges" which consist of playing literal board games you can buy yourself. Literally hungry hungry hippos, for example. You've got Cinema Snob Brad looking painfully uncomfortable being there, and who could blame him. There is zero excitement or gravitas from any of the contestants. No prizes. No fun. The only one who looks like they're trying is Tamara who makes the most of an abysmal script/premise. There's an indescribably garish, almost foreboding atmosphere about the whole thing. You have to see it yourself to know what I'm talking about, but it truly does feel like everyone is there against their will, in someone's basement, with the suppressed knowledge that this is utter garbage they're making. Doug Walker and company should be ashamed.
Just for Kicks (2006)
A somewhat flawed execution of a unique premise, and a sweet show with its heart in the right place
So, I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for the mystique of this show being briefly (well, for 9 years) considered "lost." Unavailable to the public might be a better way to say it. Since I happened to have a copy...I decided I'd share it once I discovered no one else could or would. And the whole ordeal has reignited an interest in a show even I have to admit I've overlooked along with everyone else. As I've been very open about elsewhere, I primarily bought the show in the first place because I thought one of the characters was attractive rather than any real interest in the program. I watched through it all once, enjoyed it OK, and then never watched again all this time until noticing its "lost" status. And that's a real shame, because Just For Kicks doesn't deserve to be overlooked. At the end of the day, it's a very pleasant show for kids with a unique premise and a good heart. How many tween sitcoms do you see about women athletes, i ask you? How many tween girls on TV spend their time doing sports, cooperating among themselves and achieving goals rather than vying for attention from boys, worrying about popularity and other vain, horrible aspects of adolescence our media decides to condone and glorify? THIS is the kind of message that ought to be presented to our kids more often than those annoying teen show tropes. When JFK came out, and even now, it seems like most other shows in this genre were about being famous (Hannah Montana/iCarly/Taina) or popular (at least with boys) like Unfabulous and countless others. Just For Kicks tho, was different and we need to see more shows try to perfect the premise it came up with. It's hardly perfect--the writing is kinda lame sometimes and the acting isn't always the best, the theme song is cringe inducing and I think they stretched themselves thin with four girls as main characters. Freddy is by far the least interesting, likable or entertaining and in hindsight could've been left off in favor of giving the other 3 more time for development. It's because of these faults I take off two stars, tho these problems are a staple of the tween genre anyway.
I will say, aside from the premise, the character of Lauren Zelmer was very compelling to me in particular. Far different from the Mary Sue of Zoey from Zoey 101 at the time, yet with more varied and less explored problems than "Im not popular enough!/Boy XYZ doesn't know I exist!" With the pressures on kids these days to get As all the time, be in 5 clubs and volunteer 100 hours to get into college, a tightly wound awkward character with a controlling mother rings true in a way a lot of characters on these shows do not. I like how she and Chris got together in the end--a nice enough cap to the series, tho Id have loved to see more. And unlike the whole "perfect moment!"/confession of love so common to its contemporaries, their getting together was more understated and natural. It felt like two teens who dug each other deciding to take a chance rather than the "soul mates!!" crap. Katija Pevec plays the role very well and makes her sympathetic rather than annoying as it might have been under lesser hands. Compared to that, Alexa doing what she likes in spite of the expectations of her peers is also a rather unique (tho less so) issue teens face that isn't as explored as it ought to be. Vida is a good take charge role model with the more typical family drama problems. Again, Freddy never really stuck out to me and always felt kinda superfluous. Overall, this show was better than its quick cancellation and relative obscurity would have you believe. It was flawed but so are all shows in that genre and with some fine tuning it could have really developed into something special if given the chance. It was just as good if not better in some ways than its contemporaries on Nick and other networks at the time. It had a positive message/premise which STILL has yet to be emulated, sadly. It deserves more recognition. It deserves a second look. And it deserves to be available to the people--which I'm glad I was able to help with.