“Call Me Little Ms TNT”
A guest review by Peter Bradshaw ©2009
Photos supplied by Robert Long II ©2009
Starring Louanna Lee
Also starring George Stover, Leanna Chamish, and Victoria Lynn
Guest starring Wayne Shipley, Robert Long II, Les Bradley
Edited by Jeff Herberger
Screenplay by Mark Squirek
Produced by Lee Doll
Directed by Matt Barry
(Episode description from the Louanna Lee website) Anything can happen in a small town – even mysteries. When Mr. Johnson (Wayne Shipley of COME HELL OR HIGH WATER) brings a box of old pulp books to sell at the family shop, Louanna notices certain phrases underlined. Another man, Jerry Driver (Robert Long II of BUBBA HO TEP), wishes to purchase the books immediately. Louanna discovers the clues that tell of a horse being injured before the big race. She and her friend Victoria go to spy on Mr. Johnson. Driver then shows up and threatens the horse trainer. Louanna talks to Mr. Johnson and finds out the important messages are underlined in yellow. She goes back to read the underlined parts in the books. The teen detective returns to Johnson’s only to be confronted by Jerry Driver. Will Driver harm Louanna, Johnson, and the horse?
First off I wanted to say that I am reviewing thisDVDas a favor for Robert; it seems he, Leanna Chamish, and Mitch Kleinworked on this episode so he wanted an unbiased opinion. Well, let’s see what Smash or Trash gets!
This is a “pilot” episode to the series (I understand from Robert that they are well under way with shooting the 2nd one) so there are a few kinks in it. Remember the first episode of Seinfeld? That show changed quite a bit from its pilot. Following Robert’s review structure I’ll touch upon whatworks, and what could be improved upon.
What works: The cast is super in this, and has talented newcomers (Louanna Lee and Victoria Lynn) playing scenes with veterans of television and film (Stover, Chamish, and Shipley). The locations are good; there is a horse farm, an antique store, and a lodge – among others.There is great chemistry between the characters, especially in the scenes involving Louanna and Victoria. The music by Bill Pratt works well and is amusing at times; it seems the character of Driver has his own theme. Matt Barry does a credible job directing this adventure, and the editing by Jeff Herberger keeps the story moving and lends a professional sheen to the production. It is family friendly without being insulting, and the story of the fixed horse race is a clever idea for the first show. It has the feeling of a Nancy Drew novel.
What can be improved: For everything that works, there is an area that needs polishing in future episodes – the dialog. I noticed a few times that the actors tripped over their lines. There are a couple of talking heads scenes where whole paragraphs of exposition are spoken, and the words the actors recite do not come off natural. Plus there is the problem of the character’s names being mentioned repeatedly, which causes an unintended comical effect. The biggest offender of this is the name Mr. Johnson. If a person were playing a drinking game – and did a shot every time it is mentioned – they would be drunk for days. If the writer, director, cast and crew can pay closer attention to hammering out the dialog in the future, it will serve the show well. Production-wise, there are problems with the audio, dim lighting and a soft image every so often, but this does not happen too much, nor is it that distracting.
The extras: There are two teaser trailers, four music videos, and a mini-movie included on the disc. Louanna Lee is a professional singer and entertainer; not only are three of her songs used in the episode, but there are four additional music videos featuring the young East Coast talent. Done by a variety of directors, the video’s songs are catchy and fun – the stand out being “I Can’t Decide” which features the regular cast of the adventure show. There is also a short comedy piece called “A Day at the Antique Shop” which features director Matt Barry being the proverbial ‘bull in a China shop’ with Louanna Lee having to reign him in. These extras are nice; perhaps in the future they can provide a blooper reel and an audio commentary for the episodes.
The Bottom Line: This is a pretty good first try. Once the production gets all the bugs worked out it will be a great adventure series for all ages. It would be right at home on the Disney Channel or the WB. If you are the type of person that likes Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew type mysteries, then this will be right up your alley!
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