DVD Review: Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season

Hi again!

Since I got to college, I have been known as Fitz. My Dad was known as Fitz before me. Now my wife is known as Dr. Fitz… Suffice it to say there are a lot of Fitz’s in my family. But none of them – not one – are as sick, wrong, demented, and as big a self-centered a-hole as Richard Fitzpatrick (aka “Fitz”) (Jason Priestley, Haven, Tru Calling, Beverly Hills, 90120), the car salesman in Call Me Fitz.

Call Me Fitz is a half-hour comedy series that has not been widely broadcast here in the US (except on DirecTV‘s Channel 101). It has been quite successful in Canada and just began airing season 2 in September 2011, with production already beginning on Season 3. It features Fitz, the bizarre behavior that is the norm at Fitzpatrick Motors, and a cast of side characters that get drawn into the wake of the trouble he causes.

Anybody who knows me will tell you I’m a pretty conservative, buttoned down kind of guy in blue jeans. So Priestley’s Fitz is about as far from me as you can get. He’s the classic slimy, misogynistic used car salesman with a drinking and drug problem. But somehow Priestley plays the character with a flair that makes him seem salvageable… sometimes.

So why is Call Me Fitz so much fun if it’s about a largely unlikable character?

I honestly think it’s not about Fitz at all – it’s about his relationship with Larry (Ernie Grunwald, Supernatural, Psych, CSI ). Larry is the opposite pole to Fitz’s depravity. He’s the show’s conscience. Where Fitz is slimy, Larry is upstanding and righteous. And though Larry is innocent and pure, he still manages to get drawn into Fitz’s schemes.

But don’t think that they’re alone in this world where swearing is the main form of communication. There’s the cantankerous and demented family patriarch, Ken Fitzpatrick (Peter MacNeill, Rookie Blue, Queer as Folk). There’s Fitz’s sister, Meghan (Tracy Dawson, Wild Card, The Gavin Crawford Show). There’s the pothead car lot mechanic Josh McTaggert (Donavon Stinson, Reaper, Eureka). There’s the car lot secretary Sonja Lester (Brooke Nevin, Breakout Kings, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS, The 4400) trying to be a salesperson even as she’s taken advantage of by the staff. There’s comatose potential car buyer Babs Devon (Phyllis Ellis, Three Chords from the Truth, Murdoch Mysteries, The Wilkinsons) and her lawyer daughter Ali (Kathleen Munroe, Haven, Stargate Universe, Survival of the Dead) seeking to pin Fitz to the wall. There’s the twisted girl scout Kara (Gillian Ferrier, Second Honeymoon, Ice Castles (2010)) seeking to help the lawyer…

The whole series reminds me of an even more twisted Arrested Development, but with more strippers, drugs, and alcohol and a vaguely Charlie Sheen bad-boy weekend vibe… If you’re not a fan of swearing, drinking, rampant drug use, misogynistic behavior, or sex on TV, I’d definitely skip the series. But I think that’s part of the its charm. By losing all inhibitions and letting these characters do and say whatever they feel like, you are along for the ride and almost feel like encouraging behavior that would at the very least get you slapped in public and probably get you arrested.

Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season includes all 13 episodes of the debut season along with some brief features. It starts with Fitz taking Babs on a test drive of a beautiful late-60s cherry red convertible Ford Mustang and getting into an accident to avoid hitting a white rabbit in the road. And it ends with an all out war on Fitz by his various conquests throughout the season. The road to self discovery in Fitz’s case seems to be through the bottom of several bottles of whiskey and more than a few bedrooms.

One of my favorite episodes is “Long Con Silver” which pits Fitz against the mother who abandoned him as a child – Elaine (Joanna Cassidy, Blade Runner, Hawthorne, Boston Legal). When Fitz has to find his mother to see if Larry is actually a blood relation, it leads to all sorts of fun revelations and a con game the whole dealership gets wrapped up in.

And another favorite was “The Upside of Matricide” which pairs Fitz with Larry and Ali to dispose of Babs’ body in the way she requested in her will. Not only did I get to see more of the beautiful and talented Kathleen Munroe use her comedy talents, but I reveled in the absurdity of using 130 pounds of pork ribs to replace a body before cremation.

The DVD set includes a few short interviews with cast and crew, bloopers, and a season 2 sneak peek, but I wish there were more extras. The bloopers are fun, but all of the features seemed very short and clipped so hopefully they’ll do more when season 2 is released.

If you’re a fan of shows with self-centered a-holes in the lead like Archer or House, Call Me Fitz should be right up your alley. Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season is out on DVD now and I look forward to seeing the second season when it gets the DVD treatment sometime next year!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Pondering American Idol Season 10 (2011) – What do you think?

Hey there…

I have to admit that we’ve been watching American Idol since probably season 3 or 4. I resisted at first, but after a while the pull of some sort of live performance musical show reeled me in. And along with the rest of the fanatical audience, I got used to listening to Simon, Alvin, and Theodore… wait. That’s not right. Simon, Paula, and Randy. That’s it… I got used to the trio over the years and the banter rarely changed. Same schtick different show.

Even when Kara DioGuardi joined the panel, things really didn’t change much. But I did like it last year when Ellen DeGeneres joined in Paula’s absence. She added a unique vibe as an individual, focusing more on keeping the performers comfortable while at the same time letting them know what she thought with humor and class.

This season, the tenth (hard to believe), we have a big shake-up and to be honest I wasn’t sure I was going to like the new set of judges.

American Idol
Image via Wikipedia

I’m not a big fan of Jennifer Lopez. Sure, she’s beautiful and talented. But the promos really focused on the glitz and glamour and damn if it got annoying quickly. And Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame would add an entirely different vibe with his rock star personality. Then there was good old Randy Jackson still in the seat as well.

However… I started this past Wednesday wanting to see 15 minutes of the first episode of the new season. And after all the build-up with Ryan Seacrest, I was actually surprised to find myself enjoying the interplay between the judges.

I’m still not sure about J.Lo, but she’s not as big a cheerleader as Paula Abdul, so I’m hopeful.

As for the talent this season, I haven’t agreed with everybody they’ve shoved through to Hollywood. But my wife and I do agree that Hollywood Week is going to be a zoo just with the sheer number of people going this year. They’ve already put 50 or more people through in just three hours worth of show, and you know we haven’t seen everybody perform.

So as always I’m left waiting for the drama of Hollywood Week to be over (and it’s not for a few weeks yet) so the real competition can begin. What will season ten bring us? We’ll have to wait and see.

What do you think so far? About the judges, the talent, the title changes at the beginning – whatever you want to contribute to the conversation, leave it in a comment below.

Thanks!
–Fitz

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GSN and Drew Carey Launch New Improv Sketch Comedy Show!

Hi all!

A few years ago, we tuned in regularly to Whose Line is it Anyway? to see Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, Greg Proops, and others entertain us on TV through their improvisational comedy skills. With no notice they would be asked to act out scenes with strange rules – such as one person silently performing a task while another does sound effects, or pulling someone out of the audience and singing an original song in a particular style on the fly… The comedians were able to stretch their improv muscles and audiences often got into the act to participate as well.

We missed the show (though you can find it on DVD now) after it was cancelled in 2004. There have been attempts to revive it that haven’t done well (like Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show), but none have taken off.

Well, I’m happy to see that the Game Show Network (GSN) and Drew Carey are dusting off the idea and starting a new show that will air on GSN starting March 28, 2011! Yay!

Some of the cast members will include Heather Anne-Campbell, Jeff Davis-Davis, Chip Esten, Kathy Kinney (Mimi Bobeck-Carey on The Drew Carey Show), Jonathan Mangum-Mangum, Colin Mochrie, Sean Masterson, Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, and Ryan Stiles. I’m guessing a few others may pop up from time to time as well.

The show will be based on a series of live improv performances taped in front of live audiences at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on January 14-16, January 20-22, and February 3-5 at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Additional performances will be taped at 9pm on Thursday, January 13th, and Sunday, February 6th. If you want tickets, there’s still time to try and get to a taping by purchasing them online at MGMGrand.com and Ticketmaster.com!

It will be interesting to see how this show fares as a daily primetime show for GSN, but I know we’ll be recording each half-hour episode for a while!

Here’s a clip on the new website for the show:

Be sure to check out Drew Carey’s Improv-a-ganza when it premieres on March 28, 2011 on GSN!

–Fitz

p.s. Find the Whose Line is it Anyway? DVDs below!

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