A New Entry Into The Tommy Wiseau Catalogue

Written by Joey Simpson November 03, 2011

It has been eight long years since Tommy Wiseau’s mythic cult-fillm, The Room, debuted and still its devoted fanbase continues to grow. Since its inception in 2003 the cult of Wiseau, born in the mostly empty theatres that showed The Room, has lost no momentum and has gained famous fans (among them Paul Rudd, David Cross, and Patton Oswalt) and routinely sold-out mid-night screenings (a la Troll 2 and Rocky Horror Picture Show); all for what has been called, “the worst movie ever made”. Wiseau directed, starred, wrote, and produced the movie, and is partly responsible for its notoriously bad acting, pointless sub-plots, meandering dialogue, sloppy camera work, and the time-valued tradition of projectile cutlery.

Despite his infamy, Wiseau’s filmography remains scant, only venturing to do occasionally television and convention appearances, as well as a world tour in 2011. But last September, the cult of Wiseau was inexplicably graced with all new material: a weekly video game review series starring Wiseau himself.

As an unabashed fan of The Room, I was awe-struck; this was almost as good as a sequel! With the utmost enthusiasm, I eagerly watched the “Tommy Wi-Show” up until the most recent episode (episode 6) and sure enough the same elements that drew me to The Room initially were still intact. But I couldn’t help but notice some subtle features that somewhat distanced me from the experience.

The setting and plot is essentially Mystery ScienceTheatre 3000, re-imagined as a surreal synthesis between Joel Robinson’s space-ship and the mediocre films he is forced to endure. At the beginning of every episode “T.W.” (Wiseau) is abducted by an unnamed alien, played by series creator and head writer Brock LaBorde, and is forced to play the most popular games on Earth.

Instantly, the viewer recognizes Wiseau’s typical trademarks and his almost complete incompetence as a gamer. But after watching several episodes the show overall seemed unnatural, partially because Wiseau wasn’t as involved in the project’s creative process. His dialogue and mannerisms seem forced, almost as if he watched The Room just to practice acting like himself.

One of the joys of seeing The Room is sharing it with an audience and admiring the sheer volume of flaws in almost every possible field. But the Tommy Wi-Show seems more refined, with the main focus on Wiseau’s “acting ability”. Everything else to do with the series is relatively well-managed. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks cheesy. But the Tommy Wi-Show does this almost intentionally, which somewhat dulls the effect of the series (Is Wiseau supposed to be playing this game terribly?).

Upon first glance, we know the series won’t provide us with valuable insight on video game culture. And after watching Brock LaBorde’s acting reel on YouTube, I’m still unsure whether there’s anything to be taken from it at all. Is LaBorde using Wiseau’s fame to further his own career, or is this a genuine friendship made in B-movie heaven? With LaBorde at the helm, the idiosyncrasies that dominated The Room no longer exist (the needless games of football [in tuxes!]), which may rob the show of what brought us into the cult of Wiseau.

But whether the show seems artificial or not should not rouse concern beyond whether Wiseau’s antics still make us laugh. Though the show can never replace or “improve” on The Room, it wish to. It accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do: a weekly dosage of Wiseau for his loyal, ironic fanbase.

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