While Netflix’s original films are often lackluster, their resume of original series is one of the best in the business, second to probably only HBO. Their TV dramas, most notably ‘Squid Game,’ ‘The Witcher,’ and ‘Shadow and Bone,’ have been nothing short of quality television. Their sitcoms have also been thoroughly enjoyed by many, whether it’s ‘Grace and Frankie’ or ‘Emily in Paris.’ They also turn out some great animation stories in ‘Arcane’ and ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.’ So while it may have been ironic that Netflix chose to greenlight a series based on the company it put out of business, the idea certainly sounded interesting.
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Unfortunately, what we got in Netflix’s ‘Blockbuster’ does not live up to that potential even remotely. The show is not funny at all, doesn’t feature a single compelling character or storyline, and is just straight-up boring. This is especially disappointing given that the series had the opportunity to work off of the nostalgia that an entire generation has around the dearly missed video store chain.
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Not a Single Laugh
This is by no means hyperbole or comedic exaggeration, but I did not laugh a single time throughout any of these episodes. Not once. If you’re a comedy, unlike most other genres of film and TV, your number one job actually isn’t to tell a solid story or create multi-layered characters, but is to just make us laugh. If that does not happen, then you’ve given the viewer no reason to tune in. The show tries really hard to be smart with its dialogue and character interactions, but it is ultimately detrimental to the comedic aspect of the series as it is all too clear how hard the script is trying to be funny.
Usually, when this is the case, the audience can smell it plainly and will therefore have no reason to laugh. Yet somehow, the show does try to rehash some of the same types of jokes and humor that we see in other workplace sitcoms such as ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation.’ In other words, it tries so hard to be original but can’t help not being so as it tries to replicate the elements of more similar sitcoms that were more successful, but lacks the same charm and comedic intuition.
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Despite the show being unfunny, one would hope that its characters and storylines would be its saving grace. It may have failed at its only job, but does it have something to fall back on? No. None of the characters stand out as especially unique, interesting, or even just fun to watch. Once again, these all seem like lighter and less interesting versions of characters from ‘Parks and Recreation.’ All the actors seem like they could fit these characters relatively well, but they, unfortunately, have nothing tangible to work off of. Every character is a cardboard cutout of a standard sitcom character.
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You Won’t Miss Blockbuster Any More Than You Already Did
What is especially irksome about this series is that it promoted itself as a show that would reignite that nostalgic feeling that many of us have toward Blockbuster. The show did not even do that. This is a workplace sitcom that could have been set in a restaurant, a hospital, a law office, a vitamin store, or any other type of workplace. It did not remind us one bit why we sorely miss Blockbuster and that wonderful feeling we got when scouring through those aisleways, either looking for a particular pick or simply looking for the perfect flick to enjoy for a movie night with a bunch of snacks at your side.
To anyone reading this, what comes to your mind when you think of Blockbuster? What do you remember? I personally remember the smell of movie popcorn and cold hard DVDs infused in the air. I remember the newest movies released on DVD in a pop-up display near the entrance. I remember the variety of candy, ice cream, sodas, and snacks that were always in close proximity to each other near the front counter. I remember feeling disappointed when a particular movie I was looking to rent was already checked out. I remember getting frustrated once I got home when the movie would freeze or have trouble playing because the irresponsible parent that rented the movie before me would let their kid scratch and ruin the disc.
The point of my little moment of reminiscing is not the sake of just recalling favorite childhood memories, but rather to list some examples of how the show really could have made us miss Blockbuster even more. There are so many elements and aspects about Blockbuster that would have made for some good thirty-minute episode stories. They could have even been playing around with to be used as effective comedies in the show. But instead, we got a boring series that failed at its biggest jobs: making us laugh and reminding us why we wish Blockbuster was still around.
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Are Sitcoms Still Viable Anymore?
This show is unfortunately one in a long line of recent sitcoms that have failed at being funny. While there have been some notable exceptions, many high-profile sitcoms released within the past few years, whether for cable or streaming, have made little to no lasting impression among viewers. This is not just the case for TV either. There have been no high-profile comedies that have really made a splash in the movie world either. In other words, if there is one genre of storytelling that has been on life support recently, it’s comedy. Hopefully, that will change soon, but Netflix’s ‘Blockbuster’ series was certainly not the one to do it.
Cast: Randall Park, Melissa Fumero, J.B. Smoove
Series Created by: Vanessa Ramos
By Nader Chamas
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.