|Index||5 reviews in total|
When I first saw this I thought it was some kind of oddball American Sketch Show. It dawned on me that it wasn't...is this all you have to do to get on TV nowadays? His parents must be insane. It made me cringe and I very nearly fell asleep, I'd rather decapitate myself than watch another episode.
Network: E!; Genre: Reality; Content Rating: TV-G; Classification:
Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4)
Season Reviewed: Complete Series (2 seasons)
It shouldn't be a surprise that The Michael Essany Show never made it on E!: Entertainment Television. This cute, good-hearted reality series just doesn't fit in with a network that's made its name on star-worshiping, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Red Carpet Countdowns and The Anna Nicole Show. 'Essany' is an underdog series fitting of its lead. It's a behind-the-scenes series like no other, taking us into the universe of Michael Essany as he prepares and performs in a self-titled cable access talk show in Valparaiso, Indiana (the show within the show, of the same name). With more shows like this on maybe the reality genera can't be so bad after all.
It is an interesting, and often slyly funny series, that follows someone who for once in the reality show craze is interesting enough to warrant a show after him. Essany wants to be a talk show host more than anything in the world. In pursuit of this dream he has commandeered the home he grew up in, his parents (who wear shirts labeling their significance) and any developing adult life in his whole-hearted dedication to "the show". For example, Essany attends Valparaiso University (don't say, you've never heard of it) but with the responsibilities of the show has never bothered to learn to drive, requiring his parents to chauffeur him and his guests around.
Essany's guests are another story. It's never clear how he's able to get people like Heidi Klum, Jerry O'Connell, Tom Green and "the guy from 'Ed'" to fly out to Valparaiso and be on his show. Sure, they aren't A-list stars, but to get them to come to your home is quite impressive. We only assume that the idea of doing it just seemed to irresistible to pass up. Watching them par take of mother Essany's cooking, take their shoes off as they come in the door, go shopping or go-cart racing with Essany or making fun of Essany's bump-on-a-log sidekick Mike Randazzo is an oddity to behold.
The show presents us with a kind-of double-edged sword. We both feel for Essany and his desire to achieve his dream and laugh lovingly at the kitsch of his show. I love the episode where Essany goes to the house of a group of guys to watch the show and he tries to imitate their teenage slang. It's at this point where we see the credits of The Michael Essany Show (within the show) and it's just Essany's name hilariously in every duty. Essany is like a living Max Fisher from Wes Anderson's 'Rushmore': old beyond his years, but emotionally stunted and bundled with an immense dedication and seemingly infinite resources to getting what he wants - even if it means turning his entire house into a TV studio. In a hyperbolically extreme way, he embodies the American dream and the ideal that if you work hard enough and want something bad enough that you can get it.
The irony here is that what makes Essany such a terrific local cable access talk show host (and star of this show) is exactly the same stuff that would make him a terrible real national talk show. I'm afraid that his act - which the show proves is always 'on' - is perfectly suited for this show about his show, but that's as far as it can go. In place of a real stage persona of his own Essany has grafted the acts of Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman and a little Conan O'Brien into his shtick. Still, it's hard to watch the show and not love precocious, but tragically destined, Essany. Hey, I'd rather listen to him joke about not being able to get a date then Leno do one more 10 year old joke about OJ Simpson or the Menendez brothers any day.
The show's a gem. The show is more a novelty act that really substantive. But it's sweet, funny, a little kitschy and unique among TV.
* * *
Is it just me, or does this show escape me. We have this nerd who shoots a talk show (like those are needed nowadays) from his home in Valparaiso and he gets B-List celebrities to spotlight. He's not funny, he's not engaging, and by no means is he a threat to anyone in his air time. His horse teeth, to be frank, frighten me--and I don't understand why he's living at home at his age. We see him stress over who he's interviewing, serve them some sodas and chips (how cute) when they arrive at his home, have his parents take a picture (can we say prom?), sit through an uncomfortable five minute interview, and then, see him pop out the "show tape", shelve it, and go to bed...perhaps anesthesia is no longer necessary...pop this show in and take out my liver with a melon-baller. Bottom line: executive producer, Leeza Gibbons must have little to occupy her time and E! must have a half hour to fill before we see Anna Nicole devour an entire four course meal before she "entertains" her toothless cousin from the sticks. In other words, drink a glass or red wine if you just can't get to sleep.
I watched several of Michael Essany's shows with my friends and we all
thought they were hilarious... then again, we are all familiar with
Valparaiso and the small-town dream to make it big. I respect his
creativity and his motivation to do what he can to even have a show (ie
a place to film it! stars! a sidekick!). I do believe the show would
have needed more to it to make it big like Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien,
but he's still young; there are many years ahead of him during which he
can work creatively on a newer and better version of this cute and
I believe it is inspiring to see young talent making it as far as he has. I know we will see him again in the future.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"For a young man (kid @ the time) to be able to land his own "National" television reality show, on a major network, is, simply, amazing in itself! As I have always told Michael; let them speak positively or negatively, of you (re: decapitate comment above), but it's when they stop speaking of you, all-together, that you may want to focus on a new career move. Not to be an "IMDB Spoiler," (ha) but, believe me, that, Michael will be back, and better than ever!" PROS: Family Oriented (Rated G) - Original - Comical - Variety Star Cast CONS: Poor Schedule/Timeslot (Followed Anna Nicole / Poor Repeat Airing) - Lacked/No Intro or Bio on Host; to give viewers a heads-up on origin of show or history of host (Pilot aka "Seinfeld-style") - Show was too similar, in format, to previous 4+/yr local cable access show (spinoff) **** Overall Rating: "8 aka B" All the best, SE
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