On ''On the Lot,'' even though loopy guest judge Penny Marshall provides some comic relief, a night of car-themed films is slow going

By Gregory Kirschling
August 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Brian Bowen Smith
  • TV Show

”On the Lot”: The guys hit the road

Looking lively, America, looking lively! Last week’s TV Watch was by far my crowning achievement of the season, given the way it lit up the message boards all out of proportion to the actual quality of this dumb mutt of a show.

Frankly, it was about time you guys started pulling your own weight out there. Recently, it’s been like an echo chamber in here, just me hanging out in the church basement gabbing at whatever riffraff drifts in off the street, with drool and spittle running down all our mugs. Last week, at least, I poked at you with a stick, and we got something going.

So let’s see how it pans out this week. Last night, I gotta admit, I came to the chore of TV Watching On the Pot with a little more cheer than usual, eager to rap with you and all my other new friends. At the same time, though, I still wanted to get the whole thing over with ASAP (I mean, no matter what you say, it’s not like this show doesn’t still suck), so I decided to steal a recent move from my good friend, Entourage TV Watcher Paul Katz, and live-blog last night’s episode, for a change.

(One note before we’re off: Some of you expressed hope last week that someone else might TV Watch this show from here on. Traitors. After all we’ve been through? But that’s touching, that you think anybody else at EW besides me is even still half watching it. Yes, they pay us here, but they don’t pay anybody enough to watch stuff like On the Lot when they’re off the clock.)

Now let’s do this dance of death, this tango muerte.

8:01 Coming up in the next hour: ”It’s Run Week,” booms the announcer man. What the hell is Run Week? Any chance he said, ”It’s Rerun Week”? Because you all know I could use a week off.

8:02 ”We’re about to hit the road with new movies,” says Adrianna Costa in long shot. Oh, it’s road week; all the films have cars in them. And even from this opening vast distance, as the camera sidles up to her from afar, you can tell this is going to be an extraordinary night for Adrianna’s breasts.

8:03 But first, it’s time for the highlight of every week: elimination, or one less warm body dragging this horse cart along. ”I think if there’s anyone who feels like they’re completely 100 percent safe, they’re insane,” says dependable master of the obvious Andrew, sitting outdoors with the dudes in front of a dainty little koi pond. Soon enough, geisha girl Adrianna strides onto the scene and kicks Andrew out of the dojo for his superhero movie last week. Big surprise: puppy-doggish Zach, who’s grinned his way through this whole competish, is the star pupil sent to his first-ever detention this week; he came in second to last for what he himself called his ”least favorite” of his films.

8:05 Watch Will as Adrianna says she’s ready to announce last week’s winning director, the one who gets to work with Jerry ”Vern” O’Connell this week. Gee-Willickers takes in a big lungful of air, like it’s down to him and Miss Hawaii for the Miss America title and Bert Parks is finally ready to rip open the envelope. And Miss Hawaii wins! Jason gets Jerry, and Will gets his mental game going. ”You better bring it, man,” he tells Jason, smiling passive-aggressively. Is the kindly ”Lucky Penny” director gonna turn Hollywood shark on us? I want to see Will kick a dog, or at least make a PA cry.

8:06 And there they are, bronzed, plumped, utterly perfect, and right there in my face. Hello, Adrianna’s pair of breasts. Tonight is definitely your strongest showing; in fact, tonight’s dress is my favorite thing you’ve been in so far. And hello to our judges, Carrie, Gary (Ross), and Penny (not Garry) Marshall. Gotta love ’em: Gary co-wrote Big; Penny directed it. God, Big. At one time I knew practically every line of that movie by heart. Probably still do. One thing we all should’ve done tonight instead of watching On the Lot: re-watch Big.

8:08 Adam’s up. His movie is ”Driving Under the Influence,” about a car radio that makes people dance against their will. Another dancing movie for this guy? Whatever. I’m not gonna blog too much about the movies tonight. Let’s make fun of other stuff…

8:21 …like Penny Marshall. I’ve soaked her in for a bit, and yeah, the jig is up. I don’t think that’s Penny Marshall at all. I think that’s Garry Marshall in drag. Every time she talks — like now, when she’s growling about Sam’s high-concept movie about backseat-driving school — I keep imagining I can see Garry buried deep down somewhere behind those colored hippie specs and under that huge head of hair. You in there, Garry?

8:26 I’ve never mentioned this part of the show before, but I hate it every week when Adrianna cozies up to the guest-judge and they blather for a minute. Only there’s some drama to the ritual tonight, because it looks like Gary nearly gets brained when Adrianna leans in chest-first to talk; the dumb, lucky rascal noticeably tips his head to the left, as if to avoid being socked in the face by her breasts.

8:27 Turns out m’boy Zach has brought back last week’s unpopular characters and made the most unnecessary sequel since The Whole Ten Yards. ”This time our heroes not only find pirates, but they also find love,” he says. Again, not a great showing by the golden boy, and did anybody notice that the cheesy music at the end when the guy and girl got in the clinch at the beach sounded an awful lot like a quote from John Williams’ ”Princess Leia Theme”? Zach, you suck-up, Carrie has already offered you her daughter! What more do you want from the woman?

8:31 Penny again. She and Garry are so darned cute. I want to pitch a cartoon version of them as dyspeptic, wisecracking, mentally addled toddlers — The Marshall Babies. Here is Penny’s critique of Zach’s film, and picture her saying all this while she waves her arms around like Leonard Bernstein conducting allegro: ”But at the end, a chicken-wire fence? I don’t know what’s so great about being the mick-ah master. And make-a prettier, to go with. Let’s go words. Better. What? But — excellent filmmaker. And keep doing stuff.”

8:36 I like the way Kentucky Jason says ”film”: my ”fiilll-mmmh.” Unfortunately his ”fiilll-mmmh” — featuring Jerry O’Connell as a mystery man hauling a mystery cargo that turned out to be an Asian man and a living-room set — had a wet fuse; the ending didn’t pop. Think O’Connell put it in his contract that he’d only go on the show if he got to meet Spielberg?

8:42 You knew Jason kind of blew it — not so much because Penny smart-bombed him with trenchant analysis (sample Penny: ”I thought your director Jason, Jerry, or very well — I know Jerry! How you doing, Jerry?”) but because Will smirked for the cameras before the break, slyly, like Damien in The Omen when Lee Remick wasn’t looking.

8:48 How horrible is it to root against Will? This horrible: ”Right now I’m at the point,” Will says, introducing his new movie, ”that if something big doesn’t happen this year, I’m out of here, because I have to raise my kids, and I have to put food on my table. Now, if I win this competition, then I can make my dreams and their dreams come true.” So vote for Will, people. Do it for the children. Vote for Will or else he has to go back to raising his kids. Vote for dirty-tactics Will or else the puppy in his glass-eye movie will be shot in the head, execution-style.

8:50 I’m a Beethoven guy. I’ve written before that he’s as good as it gets. The last part of the Ninth Symphony, the ”Ode to Joy,” you don’t mess around with. And I’m giving Will even more demerits now that he’s slopped the Ninth onto his silly little road-rage movie. Set to the tune of Ludwig Van, an ogre-ish trucker breaks into a car and knocks a guy in the nose; it’s possibly the least appropriate and most wholly untranscendent use of ”Ode to Joy” of all time. Roll over, Beethoven.

10:58 Oh my God. The moving lips above those overwhelming breasts announce a schedule switch: Now the show’s ending August 21, a week later than the moving lips said it would last week. [Sound of flying remote control ricocheting off television screen, bookshelf, wall, coffee table, forehead.] No comment.

So what do you think? How about those breasts? Which is your favorite Marshall? Don’t you think Will’s tactics are cheap? And did I do better this week? Hope not!

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