Blowin' Up: The Complete Series
A recent trend in television is the merger of various genres. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say a blurring of genres. Scripted series have given way to so called reality shows; reality series seem to become more planned than ever. It’s not enough to follow the lives of regular people; reality television now has to feature celebrities. When you team up MTV and comedian Jamie Kennedy within the venue of reality television one thing is certain; something very strange is going to happen. Unlike the more traditional networks MTV is in a position to be more experimental in their programming. Jamie Kennedy has been pushing the limits of comedy for years now. When MTV gave Kennedy a chance at a limited run series the resulting "Blowin’ Up" was strange but ultimately funny. It may take a little while to get it but it worth the investment of time.
The premise of the show on the surface is rather simplistic. After the moderate success of his film, "Malibu's Most Wanted", Jamie and his friend Stu Stone decide they should become rap artists. Like another MTV reality series, "Making the Band", "Blowin’ Up" purportedly chronicles Jamie and Stu as they prepare their rap album. The odds are against them since with the exception of ‘Enimem, there haven’t been a whole lot of white male rappers to achieve success. The major difference here is every aspect of the limited, seven episode series is a parody. First of all it is heavily scripted. While there was undoubtedly some improvisation going on everyone involved is on page. In this respect they series itself seeks to make fun of the other so called reality series that have sprung up in recent years.
In the first episode Jamie and Stu make the decision to explode into the rap scene. Knowing that they require expert help they start looking for professions. Actually, this sets the stage for the first of many rounds of celebrity guest starts for the series. For management they turn to Joe Simpson, manager of his singing daughters and reality TV alum, Jessica and Ashley. To help with their ‘street cred’ they contact Method Man, formerly from the highly successful Wu Tang Clan. Last they need someone to help with the overall presentation. They consider Flavor Flav but finally decide on comedian Bob Saget.
After working out a demo Jamie pushes to get a part on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit so he can have an opportunity to slip a demo to the series’ star the rap legend Ice-T. This plan is ruined when Stu sneaks on set infuriating Ice-T. The next logical step is to go old school and create a club hit. Needless to say that doesn’t work out quite right either. The next cultural icon to be parodied is the every present tabloid coverage. Jamie gets a paparazzo to photograph him with a hot young thing to help get his face in front of the public eye. Jamie even tries to redo his image by approaching Paul Wall, grill master to the stars. It is up to Mr. Wall to encase Jamie’s teeth with glittering diamonds and help him look more ‘gangsta’. They actually show a music video in the making. After Jamie’s parents stop by to help audition some ‘booty girls’, something so wrong on so many levels, they boys employ Bob Saget to shoot the video for their song "Rollin’ with Saget". Most know Saget as the kindly, slightly geeky father on ‘Full House’. Actually, as a stand up comedian he usually works with very blue, offensive material. This made him the perfect foil for the song which goes completely against his squeaky clean television image. Kennedy is just enough of a celebrity in his own right so he can manage to get some real rappers and other notables to guest star in his series. The tongue in cheek fact that this is a joke that everyone is in on helps to make the series funny. The series ends with the boys making a record deal with Warner Brothers for the first and most likely last rap album.
In order for you to find this series funny you have to initially let yourself completely suspend belief and take the show on face value, accepting the ‘reality’ premise. I found that with my second viewing I was able to let myself get into the other level here; this series makes fun of many of the aspects of popular culture that just cry out to be made fun of. Sure the series is silly but then again so is the general public’s obsession with illicit photographs, fame and what is supposed to go on in the lives of celebrities. This series reduces this craze to ridiculous levels and we can sit back and have a laugh or two.
Jamie Kennedy has reached is level of fame with his appearances in such cult hit flicks as the "Scream" trilogy and his hidden camera prank television series ‘The Jamie Kennedy Experiment". This put him in the perfect position for this type of series. So many celebrities, higher up on the fame scale, are willing to help poke fun at the very things that brought them their careers. It is somewhat reassuring that these people are able to take some time out for a little self deprecating humor and Kennedy is just the right guy to help make it happen.
Kennedy plays an alter ego here. He is approaching forty and wants to reinvent himself. Since rap music is so popular that should be the perfect venue for his new identity. Stu is the prototypical friend who lives on the coat tails of his richer, more famous buddy. As the two seek their new career their friendship is tested especially in the episode where Jamie gets a cover of a magazine without Stu. Nothing is too sacred for the pair to take on. Even the long standing trend of celebrity endorsements and commercials is given a proper send up here.
MTV in association with their parent company Paramount Home Entertainment provide a good value with this complete series DVD. The video was most likely done with digital cameras giving a shoot and run feel to the show. The color palette is over all good and consistent. The audio is in Dolby 2.0 with reasonable channel separation but for the most part the sound field is centered. For the DVD they just ported the audio directly from the series so it does include all the beeps for stronger language. The extras are very well done. I could help but to laugh at the full video of the Bob Saget song. Even though I am aware of his more adult humor I was laughing out loud watching him try to act the part of the bad boy. In the featurette "Lighting the Fuse" the pair are interviewed by MTV with funny results. There are a lot of deleted and extended scenes provided as well a some behind the scenes looks at the production and so called finished songs. Unfortunately the complete album is no included. Sure this is puerile but it is good for an old fashion laugh. While targeted for younger audiences even the older crowd will get it.