Monday 30 August 2010

Obscurity Files #21 - Clark and Michael

Obscurity Files aims to put the spotlight onto a series of films that time and audiences have otherwise forgotten. I'm doing a bit of a different thing today. With Scott Pilgrim currently at cinemas and Hot Tub Time Machine on DVD this week, let's take a look at Michael Cera and Clark Duke in the internet TV show, Clark and Michael.
More after the jump...

Nestled somewhere between the demise of Arrested Development and the start of his film career with Superbad and Juno, Michael Cera starred in this CBS produced internet TV show along with his friend Clark Duke.

This is the story of two obnoxious young Hollywood brats trying their luck at writing their own TV show. They consider themselves the target audience and want to make a show that would appeal to them. Oh, and star them. Essentially they've come up with an idea to put their own lives up on screen, but slowly they add elements (such as turning it into a show about crime scene investigators) just to try and sell it. They shop it around to executives with varying results, usually ruining their own pitches with drunken, disorderly behaviour.

Following them around is a camera crew that Clark and Michael have hired. Playing exaggerated, fictionalised versions of themselves, they have the arrogance to assume they can sell the footage along with the scripts they are writing. The crew sometimes become characters themselves, such as when Clark berates the producer for filming them in the bathroom. The mockumentary format is nothing new, but it takes the popularised technique from The Office and Christopher Guest and puts it into a shorter 'YouTube friendly' show.

Clark and Michael is also in possession of perhaps the greatest theme tune and opening credit sequence ever. I'll pretty much guarantee that over 10 episodes, you'll not fast forward the titles once.

The first episode was Clark Duke's senior film for University, and along with Cera was able to sell the concept to CBS for a short run of ten episodes. Each episode is roughly ten minutes long and was initially screened on CBS's affiliate website It's defunct now, but all the episodes are available on YouTube. The concept of having a web-based TV show is delightfully 2007, and it's the only format in which this show works. You may want to watch the episodes back to back, but if they comprised one long movie it wouldn't be as appealing a prospect. There is a running plot, but each episode is largely self contained, making it a great show to pick up and put down.

I'd never seen Clark Duke in anything before this show (and to be honest, I don't think he'd appeared in anything of note), but since the end of this show I've seen him have at least two break out roles (I think that's possible), firstly in Sex Drive and most recently in Hot Tub Time Machine. He has his own back-chatting arrogance across all his roles, and is a much more outspoken and upfront character than Michael Cera, seizing any opportunity to act like a womaniser.

Of all the criticisms that are levelled at Michael Cera these days, most are about how annoying his persona is; but he's great here. Not the geeky innocent of George Michael Bluth or Paulie Bleeker, he's a real brat who's known to throw a tantrum. Just watch him kick over a stand in the video store, just because they don't have the TV show he wants.

They're both quite vulgar little men, too. Clark's only one step short of descending into the Mel Gibson 'Sugartits' school of charm, and Michael Cera doesn't hesitate in saying things like "ATC Family rested their balls on our chins and brushed our teeth with their dicks". Now that's some good swearing.

Michael Cera started 2007 as one of the supporting cast of a much loved but cancelled TV show, and ended it as the star of Juno and Superbad. He's pretty much cemented his place in popular culture this year with Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and hopefully will be back for the Arrested Development film, should that ever happen. Clark Duke's taken a little while longer to get recognised. After this he got a role on the frat-house TV show Greek, and has made notable appearances in Sex Drive (as cocky ladies man Lance, not too far from this show's role), and in Hot Tub Time Machine (as John Cusack's nephew Jacob, forced to go all Marty McFly and protect the future).

Another great joy in watching this show is looking out for all the cameo's from friends and former colleagues. There's a couple of Arrested Development reunions, and some other cult comedy icons to try and spot. So here for your viewing pleasure, I've included the first episode followed by links to the other nine that were made.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... Clark and Michael.

The official website doesn't have the videos anymore, so you'll have to catch them on YouTube. I'm not going to embed all the videos as I'll probably get sued, but click on any of these links to go to YouTube.










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