Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Neighbors

Score Technician: TJ Geise

Not content to continue riding the coattails of his own disasterpiece, The Room, enigmatic madman Tommy Wiseau revealed to the world that he was working on a television show called The Neighbors.

After years of talking about it and showing the pilot during screenings of The Room, The Neighbors finally arrived on, of all places, Hulu, as of March 14th, 2015. The four-episode series (which may be 10 or 20 episodes, according to Wiseau) features more characters to keep track of than Game of Thrones, including Tommy Wiseau in a double role: Charlie, the owner of the apartment building wherein all shenanigans take place, and Ricky Rick, a drug dealer or something.

When the nanobots heard that they were going to have to score another of Tommy Wiseau's productions, only morbid curiosity prevented them from self-destructing. The Progressive Cinema Scorecard just had to flay open The Neighbors in the name of science to ponder the imponderable and answer the unanswerable.

Can lightning strike life into the cold corpse of Tommy Wiseau twice? Read on to find out!

All Episodes
  • The Wiseau Films Logo appearing only once. = +1pt 
  • The intro screen featuring the characters yelling to the cannonfire part of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. = +3 for the music, -6 for the graphics, total = -3pts
Yes, it really is that blurry on the show.
  • The bloopy keyboard blasts during every scene transition or dance sequence. = -50pts 
  • Tommy Wiseau saying “What a day!”, sometimes repeatedly in the same sentence, in a sloshing attempt to score a catchphrase. = -10pts 
  • Number of times one character greeted another character with “Oh hai!” = +8pts
Episode 1
  • Charlie the landlord's mullet wig has been the elephant in the room for so long that none of the other characters bother to get distracted by it anymore. = -7pts 
  • Less than a minute in and already we're reminded of how hilarious Tommy Wiseau's accent is. “Thank yaaaaaou,” he says. = +4pts 
  • A guy noisily bouncing a basketball and speaking with what he thinks a Latino accent should sound like asks Charlie for $20 to pay Charlie's girlfriend Bebe, who is sitting less than five feet away. Oh, we get it – this is the first joke set up. How fun! = -8pts 
  • When you receive an eviction notice printed in all-caps with 96-sized font, it stands to reason that you would address your landlord in the verbal equivalent of just that. = -5pts 
  • In an effort to motivate himself to find a job, a man in a bowtie shouts self-deprecating things to his reflection in the mirror before wrapping a fully-knotted noose around his neck. Later on in the show it's revealed that this didn't motivate him to find a job, but it certainly did make us laugh (because this show is a comedy, remember!). = -4pts 
  • A bikini bimbo named Philadelphia borrows pepper from the bowtie guy's big jar (and by big jar, we mean coffee cup) so that she can make chicken. Bowtie guy's curiosity as to why she's wearing a bikini is quashed by the fact that she's wearing a bikini. = -8pts 
  • An Asian guy busts into Charlie and Bebe's office to accuse the black guy in room 666 of cutting off the Internet. The black guy then busts in and accuses the Asian guy of having sex with men, women, and chickens. Rather than settle their differences like adults, they begin brawling like daytime talk show guests. = -15pts 
  • Times the black guy said, “It’s not the ‘90s” when Charlie asked why they can't all just get along. = -3pts 
  • A lady stops doing laundry to have attempted sex with a fix-it guy before basketball guy comes in holding a chicken. = -7pts 
  • The fix-it guy has “Wiseau” written on his waistband of his boxers. = -10pts 
  • Ricky Rick (AKA Tommy Wiseau in a blonde wig and a varsity jacket) makes his first appearance by getting sprayed in the face with whipped cream while three people shriek in amusement. = -5pts 
  • Casting another black actor as a man struggling with his sexuality... who happens to click his tongue with a loud pop at the end of every sentence. = +5pts for almost having a progressive character, -15pts for making him unbearable to listen to = -10pts 
  • Questionably sexual tenant's pregnant wife says to him, “I’m your wife. I’m pregnant.” = -5pts 
  • Charlie congratulates the extremely pregnant woman, whom he likely sees on a daily basis given how often people come into his office, on her pregnancy as though he's never met her before in his life. Bebe follows suit. = -4pts 
  • Again with the “Can I borrow $20” gag. = -16pts 
  • The angriest stoner of all time and the woman who barged into his apartment looking for her chicken have a shouting match that escalates to physical violence and then peters out with death threats. Comedy! = -12pts 
  • Chicken lady angrily strongarms her way into the bikini bimbo’s apartment but isn't shooed away until after getting to honk a boob. = -3pts 
  • The pizza guy’s half-hearted joke about wanting to use a totally different bikini bimbo’s safety deposit box after she pays for the delivery with cash pulled from both halves of her bikini. = -7pts 
  • Pizza guy takes his shirt off (revealing that he too has Wiseau underwears) and then asks the original bikini bimbo if he can use her name to get a discount in the apartment he suddenly wants to lease. = -9pts 
  • “I have a job and everything,” says the pizza boy who is skipping work to spontaneously apply for an apartment. = -7pts 
  • Bebe approves the pizza kid’s apartment application without checking his credit because the phones were inexplicably shut off and she can’t wait an hour (or use her cell phone) to make a phone call. = -15pts 
  • Chicken lady lying on the floor screaming while Charlie asks her to have a nice day. = -8pts 
  • Not shooting a second take when the pizza guy accidentally unplugs the printer as he leaves the office. = +4pts 
  • When Ricky Rick's girlfriend Lula wants to buy a shotgun from the angry stoner, Ricky Rick stands up, grabs his crotch, and shouts, “You have a gun right here in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening!” = -16pts 
  • Lula casts a magic spell (accentuated by the tinkling of bells) on the angry stoner to get his gun for free. After they leave, the angry stoner reacts like you’d expect: “I’m an idiot! Aaaaah! AAAAAAAAH! AGH! ...I’m okay.” = -6pts 
  • After finding her chicken with the basketball guy, the chicken lady accuses him of having carnal relations with it and then threatens him with violence from beyond the grave. = -5pts 
Episode 2
  • Charlie cares as much about Princess Penelope, who is supposedly part of the actual British royal family, coming to stay in his apartment as we do (which is to say not at fucking all). = +5pts 
  • Charlie takes off his fancy blue shirt to put on an equally fancy purple shirt while Bebe mumbles awkward jokes about his sexual prowess. = -6pts 
  • While he didn't give a fig about the princess moments before, Charlie is suddenly inviting all of the tenants to his office to have a welcoming party to Her Royal Highness. = -8pts 
  • Charlie shouting incomprehensibly at his computer. = +8pts 
  • Philadelphia is so depressed that she can’t tell Charlie about it (even after a gratuitous hug) unless she has ice cream. He's never shown to give her the ice cream, but we determine that she's sad because the apartment lesbian kissed her. = -7pts 
  • In the middle of ordering the fix-it guy to pick up the princess, Charlie throws his arms in the air and shouts, “Santa Claus!” = +7pts 
  • Basketball guy introduces himself to Princess Penelope by vigorously grabbing her ass. = -8pts 
  • Princess Penelope hires the suicidal bowtie guy to be her butler on the grounds that he picked up her dropped pen (and, we assume, because he's wearing a bowtie). Charlie is adamantly against this decision. = +5pts 
  • The tenants clap and begin shouting over each other with how excited they are to meet the princess. Her grimace tells the whole story. = -4pts 
  • Angry stoner shouts at the top of his lungs to the bikini bimbo and the lesbian that he loves it when girls kiss and then politely excuses himself to answer the door. = -7pts 
  • The bimbos argue about who they want to have sex with until the Asian guy buying drugs from the angry stoner creeps them both out. We can’t stop laughing at the comedy in this sitcom! = -10pts 
  • The bimbos settles their sex argument when the lesbian suggests they have a ménage à trois with the angry stoner. The scene ends with them all walking presumably to the bedroom. = -8pts 
  • As Princess Penelope is introduced to the chicken lady’s chicken, a guy with a blanket over his head and a black bar censoring his junk runs screaming down the hallway. The chicken lady isn’t sure if he was a ghost or not. = +6pts 
  • When the suicidal bowtie butler accuses Tommy Wiseau of not doing anything but sitting, Tommy stands up and angrily shouts, “I am very busy! What do you think! What do you expect me to do? Just baby sitting here like ten years ago?” = +7pts 
  • The above scene is immediately interrupted with a red-filtered flashback of the bowtie guy with a noose around his neck as a synthesized siren blares. = -13pts 
  • When the angry stoner mistakes the chicken for a tiger, he screams that he wants to eat it and then politely asks the chicken lady if she wants to come inside. She declines and instead asks him for salt and pepper so that she can make soup. = -10pts 
Actual scene from the show.
  • Charlie and Bebe belt out, “God bless America!” for no reason. = -6pts 
  • The argument between Charlie and Bebe regarding his trip to Hawaii possibly stemming from a desire to fuck a hula mistress is interrupted when the basketball guy spills ice cream all over the floor. = -3pts 
Episode 3
  • Before they spitefully flirt with one another, the angry stoner and the laundry room slut reveal that the princess is haunted by the ghost of her uncle. = +3pts 
  • The fix-it guy gratuitously showing off his Tommy Wiseau underwear in front of Tommy Wiseau. = -10pts 
  • Chicken lady accosts the apartment lesbian on her sexuality, tells her to go to church, and then engages her in a fistfight. = -15pts 
  • Bebe, on Lula's ability to charm people into doing her bidding: “I heard you got a gun for free and didn’t pay anything!” = +5pts 
  • Facts about laundry room slut: she’s allergic to chickens and buys a gram of weed once a month to help her with cramps. = 0pts (just observing the bizarrely specific character development) 
  • Actual dialogue exchange between two characters in what is being passed off as a sitcom:
    “Would you like some weed?”
    “No, it’s okay.”
    “I hate you.”
    = -20pts 
  • Tommy Wiseau alternating between pronouncing the word birthday as “brithday” and “birfday.” = +4pts 
  • Basketball guy and fix-it guy gather up every tenant in the building so quickly that it’s almost as if they were all waiting just off-screen. Oh, wait... = -6pts 
  • Everyone screams so loudly during Bebe’s surprise party that the sound recording equipment cut in and out. = -8pts 
  • The group sings just enough of The Birthday Song so as not to get sued. = +1pts 
  • Aside from the sudden and fleeting appearance of Ricky Rick, the last three minutes of the show are of the cast drinking from red Solo cups, throwing cake at each other, and, of course, shouting incomprehensibly. = -16pts 
Episode 4
  • When Charlie and Ricky Rick appear in the same scene together, the camera cuts back and forth between the two Tommy Wiseaus faster than DJ Jazzy Jeff  can scratch a record. = -6pts 
  • Not sure if Ricky Rick is blurting, “Chkaw!” while flashing gang signs or having an actual stroke. = -5pts 
  • Before Charlie leaves for Hawaii, the chicken lady brings the tenants into Charlie’s office to loudly shout over one another two verses of Frère Jacques as a surprise goodbye send-off. It's beyond horrible. = -20pts 
  • Given that Ricky Rick isn’t familiar with a stapler, is bored easily with learning how to use a computer, asks Bebe if he can strangle her a little bit, shows her his underwear, asks her if she’s a “commonist or a democrat,” (she's a socialist... no, wait, she's independent) and threatens to cut his own fingers off, it's safe to say that he was a poor choice to fill in for Charlie. = -12pts 
  • A white man with a beard and a stogie barges into the angry stoner’s apartment, announces he’s from Cuba, and then leaves. Ricky Rick thought he was Santa Claus while angry stoner guessed him to be Fidel Castro. Who he was and why he was there is never revealed. = -9pts 
  • “Let’s do violence!” shouts the angry stoner after pouring vodka everywhere. = -4pts 
  • For the first (and presumably last) time, everyone in the scene looks like they're legitimately enjoying themselves. = +5pts 
  • Ricky Rick, Lula, and the angry stoner sit around getting high in what is the most awkward and uncomfortable scene in the series (and that says a fucking lot). = -23pts 
  • Bebe’s sister is either adopted or Bebe’s cousin… no one (including Bebe’s sister/cousin) is sure. = -8pts 
  • Ricky Rick walks in and out of the office and spills water on Bebe’s office electronics, such as her fax machine and Brother P-Touch Printer label maker. = -6pts
  • When Ricky Rick refuses the fix-it guy’s request for a paycheck advance, he instead makes the guy his drug runner. This show is hysterical! = -9pts 
  • “If you want to have sex with a random person, you go to the laundry room,” says the fix-it guy. Trust him, he knows. = -4pts 
  • Ricky Rick and the fix-it guy bond over the fact that they’re both wearing Tommy Wiseau underwear, which Ricky Rick is quick to point out are available on = -9pts (and, yes, they are actually available for purchase on his website as of this scorecard's publication). 
  • When the fix-it guy asks Ricky Rick if he’d like more coffee, he responds with, “Hey motherfucker, don’t ask me stupid questions.” This could have just been an actual exchange between the two actors that somehow made it into the episode. = +10pts 
  • The angry stoner inexplicably forgets who the fix-it guy and is reminded by the fix-it guy that he sees him every day. This is either be a joke on substance abuse's affect on your brain or poor writing fixed by the fix-it guy's ad-lib. = +4pts (either way) 
  • The preview for the fifth episode reminding you that this wasn't the final episode. = -5pts 
Total Score: -433pts
Available on: Hulu

There's no sugar-coating science: The Neighbors is charmless, incoherent, and barely watchable even with a scorecard. Character interactions consistently devolve into wince-inducing scream-a-thons, characters are introduced and never seen again, and people go from having a paroxysm to being totally chill at the drop of a chicken feather. Since all of the actual entertainment is gleaned from Tommy Wiseau's mushy quasi-European Christopher Walken accent and gonzo mannerisms, either watch The Room or find any interview with him on YouTube for the same effect without all of the shrieking.

Tommy Wiseau did with one film what Ed Wood did with several – he reminded us that the sincerity of an unintentionally terrible movie hits us on a level that can't be duplicated elsewhere. It's why cult movies have such devoted followings and why the French have their own word for an unintentionally bad film: nadar. On the flipside, trying to fabricate this sincerity comes off looking like a dollar store G. I. Joe: you know what it's trying to be, but it's trying too hard and comes off as undesirable.

Should The Neighbors continue, it's doubtful that its quality and cohesion will improve. Until that day, let your ol' pal science do the heavy lifting and keep this scorecard on hand for when your friend thinks it'll be funny to put this show on while you're over. What a day!

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