Holliston: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray Review]

You know the one about the chicken and the egg. Now let me ask you, which came worse, the shitty sitcom, or the shitty movies that gained enough popularity to allow those directors to create that sitcom? If you said the sitcom, you’re right, but we all lose anyway. Welcome to Adam Green and Joe Lynch’s Holliston.

Because this is the Internet, I feel I have to blatantly state that these are my opinions. Filmmakers like Green and Lynch have fervent gorehound fan bases that develop tunnel vision when opposing opinions are shared. Lynch isn’t that decorated yet; his Wrong Turn 2 being an above average sequel to a below average franchise. Green is a heavy self-promoter with the mostly decent Frozen and Spiral, along with the painfully awful Hatchet franchise to call his own. They both worked on the hit-and-miss anthology Chillerama. These are guys whose horror sensibilities are easily accessible, but with senses of humor that never expanded beyond middle school. As directors, they’re admirable within their wheelhouses. But as writers and performers (Green has the sole writing credit), they’re nearly as horrifying as their movies.

Almost everything about this premise is confounding. It’s a multi-camera set-up, complete with a canned laugh track, telling the tale of Adam and Joe, two aspiring filmmakers currently making commercials for their stuck-in-the-80s boss Lance Rocket (Dee Snider). Joe is dating Laura (Laura Ortiz) while Adam is still pining for his hottie ex-girlfriend Corri (Corri English). Adam and Joe live together, and though Laura and Corri rent a haunted apartment for part of an episode, they appear to just homestead with the guys. Adam has an imaginary friend, Oderus Urungus, the heavily made-up lead singer from the heavy metal band GWAR. (Real name: Dave Brockie.) And most of the episodes are over thirty-five minutes long.

As FEARnet’s first foray into original programming, Holliston follows the recent FOX and FX formulas for comedy: hyper-realized characters, all bro-centric regardless of gender, treating outlandish situations realistically. Genre guest stars appear in every episode. Scenes are often interrupted by violent cutaway gags. On paper, you could say it’s The League meets Spaced. But then you realize you’re holding toilet paper, and these are the smeared crayon ramblings of a child.

There is definitely an audience for this show, don’t get me wrong. The first episode features Adam hiring a hooker to pose as his date after he lies about having a girlfriend to Corri once he finds out she has a boyfriend. In one episode, the male duo gets sprayed by a skunk and spends the rest of the episode in the bathroom together while the girls buy lots of boxes of douche in a corner store where Brian Posehn is the teller. Seth Green plays an outlandishly schizophrenic special effects creator who the guys hire to provide props to include in a promo trailer for the horror film they intend to make. They attend a horror convention and use unconventional tactics to meet John Landis. Tony Todd spends a few days sleeping on the couch and smoking meth. Someone has to find these things original and funny, right? They went through the trouble of filming it and everything.

Intended or not, the jokes, if that’s what we’re calling them, are as artificial as the laughter that follows. There are frequent tangents, such as Corri incessantly correcting Laura’s use of inflection (itself inspired by the Columbian Ortiz’s real-life mistakes), that do nothing but fill time. The ideas behind the plots are inspired but the execution never reaches beyond middling. It got to the point where the highlights were appearances by Oderous, even though his non-sequitur status is also marred by adhering to the same “Adam wants advice and Oderous doesn’t give it” outline.

Let’s be real. I can’t tell if it’s the trite jokes, the relationship situations, or the way Adam’s bedroom is set up, but Holliston is essentially the last three years of Boy Meets World A-stories re-imagined with a budget for blood. Since DirecTV doesn’t carry FEARnet, I won’t be able to watch the second season of Holliston when it starts in December. Nothing scary about that.

For fans, it’s hard to ask for more out of a TV set. If your budget is relative to the show’s, opt for the DVD, since the look and sound of Holliston are barely aided by higher definition.

There are a series of fictionalized “Promos,” including a sexualized audition tape and a deadpanned pitch meeting, that are probably as fun as anything in the show, all things considered. A series of “Behind the Scenes” features, all ranging from three to six minutes, cover all the usual topics. Meet the cast. Learn how Adam and Joe know each other. Hear about making new clothes, usually horror t-shirts and blue jeans, look like they’ve been worn for years. Is Dee Snider really like that? You’ll see.

Five minutes of bloopers are worth a chuckle or two, and the laughs usually come from the scenes you expect them to. The deleted scenes consist of an uncut take of a scene where the cast passes a piece of watermelon Bubbalicious bubble gum around, an alternate beginning to an episode, and an alternate ending. The aired version of that ending was my favorite moment from the season. Dark humor suits me.

Finally, every episode features a commentary from the central four cast members. As it usually goes, they’re amusing and make the show seem better than it actually was. These are interesting people with good chemistry. I wish I’d enjoyed the show more. Now, where did I put those Spaced DVDs?

Length: 223 min.

Distributor: Image Entertainment

Release Date: 10/09/2012

Starring: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Corri English, Laura Ortiz

Directed by: Adam Green

Written by: Adam Green

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.