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Friday, February 19, 2010

Groovy Web Series: Ave 43

Justin Tanner has got one dark and twisted mind that I can totally relate to. He's the creator of Ave 43, a bizarre web soap opera that I discovered on YouTube this week. While I was watching the first episode, my initial thought was "What the hell is this?", which quickly changed to "I need to watch more of this wacky madness." And by the end of the second show, in which one of the characters reveals a shocking secret about her brother, I was hooked on the hilarious series, which I would describe as a fast and furious soap opera parody, reminiscent of Mary Hartman and Soap, with many wild plot twists and turns. Mr. Tanner was once a staff writer for the wonderful Gilmore Girls, and he wrote a very funny play called Pot Mom, which I saw years ago at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater. I just like the guy's wicked, anything-goes sense of humor, which is now on full display in his groovy new web series.

So what is Ave 43 all about? Well, I think it would be easier just to list the main characters and have you experience the sordid surprises of the series for yourself:

Debbie (Chloe Taylor) and Janet (Zoe Perry), two young apartment roommates in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Randy (Todd Lowe, who played Zach on Gilmore Girls and currently appears as Terry on HBO's True Blood), Debbie's boyfriend who revisits his past life when the present gets tough.

Mike (Cody Chappel), Debbie's gay brother whose relationship with Walter (Michael Halpin) hits the rocks when the devious Shayne (Danny Schmitz) shows up.

Cliff (Jonathan Palmer), Janet's older boyfriend whose "footlong" appearance in a Raging Boner gay porn film is only the tip of the iceberg of his personal melodrama.

Viv (Jayne Taini), Cliff's disapproving sister who will do anything to get Janet out of his life.

Fran (Danielle Kennedy), Cliff and Viv's mother who has been hiding a big secret of her own for a very long time.

Mr. Hakopian (Harvey Perr), a lonely widower with a jacuzzi whom Viv becomes involved with.

Ondria (Abby Travis), Hakopian's daughter who practices witchcraft and enjoys casting spells on people.

Lyle (Tom Fitzpatrick), who runs a drug and prostitution ring - but would really just like to focus on his "art" (porn films).

Tim (Tad Coughenour), Lyle's henchman who carries out some dirty deeds for his boss.

Irene (Melissa Denton) and Lotty (Mary Scheer), two mysterious sisters whose relationship is constantly changing.

And Pazuzu (Oscar), Irene's "unpredictable" white cat who has a fascinating storyline of his own.

As you can see, there is a helluva lot going on in Ave 43 - and it only gets more crazy and addictive with each episode. The talented ensemble of actors are all perfectly cast, but a few of my favorites are Denton (whose kooky Irene uses a shoebox of chicken bones from KFC for sympathy), Travis (whose Ondria is a delightful hoot), and Schmitz (who steals the show with his deadly schemes and bad-boy sexiness).

I've checked out many web soap operas in the last year, but Justin Tanner's unique world of weird romance and delicious mystery is one of the best. Too many of these online serials take themselves way too seriously with lots of depressing drama and not an ounce of humor, but Ave 43 remembers to make us laugh while entertaining us with its trippy, offbeat storylines - and that, my friends, deserves a round of applause. I can't wait for the show's second season, which will begin next month.

You can watch the first three episodes of Ave 43 below, and to continue the adventure, go to the series' YouTube channel.

1 comment: said...

Ave 43 is my favorite show on television/web. Brilliant.