It’s hard to believe that something so targeted, so calculated, so straight out of the wallet of ex-Disney mogul Michael Eisner could be so pretty awesome.
But that’s exactly what the new Web-only sitcom The All-for-Nots is. It’s The Monkees and The Partridge Family all over again, 2008 style, with a little bit of self-deprecating Spinal Tap rock humor thrown in for good measure (for instance, they call themselves, in all seriousness, a “synth-pop-indie-electro-folk-emo- dance-gazer-punk-Americana-pop-progressive-rock” band).
The show, which debuted in March, follows an indie-rock quartet as they tour the country, trying to glean bits of respect they’re already taking for granted even though no one’s heard of them. Don’t look for the Foo Fighters’ or White Stripes’ level of songcraft here; the All-for-Nots’ lightweight tunes sound about as cool as “Pleasant Valley Sunday” did stacked up against the Monkees’ badass contemporaries, e.g. the MC5, Deep Purple, Cream, and the Rolling Stones.
The All-for-Nots, doled out in three episodes a week that run about five minutes each, is ideal for the Web. (The band’s name is explained on the show, so I won’t spoil the surprise here. They supposedly played at SXSW in March and are faking real gigs here and there to promote their series.) Part reality show, part rockumentary, it’s got snappy MTV pacing and the band has interestingly conflicted characters, including a camera-shy head case of a drummer girl who’s definitely a gun waiting to go off in the third act, as Chekhov would put it. Despite the way-too- familiar premise, each episode fades to black before it has a chance to get boring.
In a time when many production companies have failed to get advertising for their Web programming, Eisner scored a coup when he got Dodge to sponsor The All-for-Nots. He’s an old-guard entertainment tycoon dabbling in new media, and he’s not supposed to have his hands in anything as experimentally cool as this. As a cutting-edge blog populated with venom-spitting critics who will not be catered to by the likes of an ex-Disney exec, we at Popdose should snarkily poo all over a show like The All-for-Nots. But they’re cute, in a Monkees kind of way. Except that they drop an occasional F bomb to spice things up.
The fact is, it’s good entertainment, the server is fast, and the video’s clean and crystal clear in panoramic format. I’m sold. I’m hooked. Give me more.