Look around and you’ll see too much to consume. Too many new series arriving weekly; hours of drama coming with critical acclaim or with mixed feelings from reviewers. How many hours do you have these days? Save it for later and you’ll forget because the new season of Stranger Things has just started, or if you’re really peculiar you’re not watching anything until the prequel to Game of Thrones starts in August.
Besides, a lot of what is currently streaming or coming weekly to cable amounts to a cry of anger, rage or pain. And there’s enough going on in real life to give you the jitters. So, remember that summer is short and passes too soon. With that in mind, here are two devilishly short items. It’s a short list of shorts-fun for short attention spans.
Trapped (streams on Bell FibeTV 1) is six, 10-minute episodes of fun and frolics from much of the same team that made the madly eccentric and hilarious Vollies. That is, Jonathan Torrens and his band of jokers in Nova Scotia, with a few new additions.
The gist of the show is that the real Nathan Macintosh, playing himself, is spending a week back home in Truro and gets himself embroiled in all manner of shenanigans. (It’s a case of turning life into laughs – Macintosh’s comedy career was on the uptick when the pandemic forced him to go home. He’d appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – things were looking good.) For instance, his mom (the wonderful Trina Corkum) pesters him to get a job or go on unemployment benefits. His insistence that he’s only home for a brief time gets him nowhere. It’s that kind of wackily demented show.
In one lovely scene Macintosh accompanies his mom to the Service Canada office where she will investigate his eligibility for benefits. When Nathan discloses how much he made doing comedy the previous year, mom and the benefits officer are stunned. Mom says, “They told us to get a trade. They never told us to get jokes!”
But the meat of the tiny, delightful series involves Nathan being goaded, or blackmailed, into doing a day’s work at his old job. That’s selling shoes at The Toe Shelf, an emporium run by the madly aggressive Jerry (Ron James having a whale of time). No sooner has somebody got beaten around the head with a Croc shoe, than things get complicated. This involves more madness with mom, romance and revenge. It’s droll merriment without a scene or line of dialogue wasted.
Fanatyk (streams on Netflix) is from a different place – Poland – but this 33-minute gem is a small masterpiece of dark comedy that shares something with Trapped. It’s about obsessives and family dynamics.
Teenager Jakub (Mikołaj Kubacki) is in therapy because he’s become introverted, dropped out of school and spends way too much time on the internet, doing heaven knows what. Then, you wonder if he’s the one who belongs in therapy. He lives at home with his mom and dad and brother, the latter being the allegedly sane one in the household. It’s his father Andrzej (Piotr Cyrwus) who controls the house and what controls him is fishing. He’s a fanatic and the house is filled with fish-related paraphernalia. There are fishing trophies everywhere and so much fishing tackle and hooks that it’s dangerous to move around barefoot. Jakub gets a fish hook stuck in his foot all the time.
Not only is dad obsessed with fish, he’s at war with the Polish anglers association. Something to do with fishing rights and whether the pike is the king of all fish, or something. Then Jakub mischievously introduces his father to the internet where the man posts obsessively about fishing and starts all kinds of trouble. Meanwhile, Jakub’s mother Zona (Anna Radwan) tries to keep her husband calm while obsessively trying to learn to speak Spanish. It all concludes with a bit of business about a fishing boat that is both comedy and surreal madness. Directed by Michael Tylka and based on a “copypaste” text by Malcolm XD, Fanatyk delightfully conjures up both comedy and generational fury in its short length.
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