Very, Very Strange Love

Published: November 6, 2007
Categories: Reviews

This week saw the debut of a brand-new project from the Jim Henson Company entitled Tinseltown. Tinseltown is a comedy series about a gay couple trying to get by in Hollywood , one of whom is a pig and the other of whom is a bull, both of whom are puppets. Bobby Vegan (the pig) is performed by Bill Barretta and Samson Knight (the bull) is performed by Brian Henson.

The show debuted last Friday as part of the gay-themed Logo cable network’s “Alien Boot Camp” programming block. (“Alien Boot Camp” sounds like an Japanese cartoon series, doesn’t it? Probably something about robotic pandas fighting skeletons in a submarine.) But if you missed it, you can watch it yourself right now, on the internet, by visiting the Alien Boot Camp website.

But should you watch it? Well, that depends… Do you find the following things funny: Puppets in bondage gear, 13-year-old children drinking beer, jokes about pigs having intimate relations with midgets? If so, this is the show for you. If not, you might want to stay away. Basically, it’s a puppet show for people who believe comedy never needs to aim any higher than Comedy Central’s Drawn Together, that a puppet uttering obscenities automatically constitutes “edgy” humor.

Tinseltown is a production of the Henson Company’s new division, Henson Alternative, which focuses on adult-targeted projects. For short they’re calling it ha!, the same abbreviation Jim Henson used back when his company was called Henson Associates. In those days, it was a pretty sure thing that anyone watching a ha! production would frequently make noises that sounded like the company’s name, but sadly, that’s much less likely with this newest venture. They try so very hard to be “adult” and “edgy”… in fact, they try too hard in their misguided attempt to reach the mature audience. I’m not saying they shouldn’t produce stuff intended for that audience, but if they’re going to try, it should be good stuff, or we’ll all left wishing for an alternative to Henson Alternative.

The plot concerns Bobby, a struggling actor, skipping out on an audition arranged for him by Samson, his manager, so he can go shopping with Lena, a human woman who is Bobby’s friend and Samson’s ex-wife. Or… she’s Samson’s friend and Bobby’s ex-wife. I don’t remember, but it doesn’t really matter, because she doesn’t have a personality to speak of and all she really gets to do is get drunk. I realize this is only the first episode, so it could get better from here, but… look, I mean, one of the funniest jokes in the whole thing is that Samson & Bobby’s foster son is named “Foster.” I’m amazed there wasn’t a line about Samson feeling “horny.”

I have no idea if there are any other episodes forthcoming, or if this was just a one-time, tryout kind of thing or what, but I honestly can’t say I’m glad I spent those 10 minutes (plus, like, 38 more minutes waiting for the freaking video to buffer…) watching Tinseltown.

Oh well… maybe the next gay-pig-and-bull-in-Hollywood show that comes along will be better.

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Written by Ryan Roe

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