Gelber And Manning In Pictures
Creators/Point of origin/Running time: Jesse Gelber, James Lester, and Kate Manning/New York City (but really New Jersey)/11 minutes
Cast: Jesse Gelber, Kate Manning, Mark S. Armstrong, Carson Grant, Noah Forrest
Headline: “I like Mad Men!” “Well, honey, I like Glee!” “Guys, guys: What if you could have BOTH?”
Todd’s take: I was fairly apprehensive about this one. It’s a 1920s set musical-drama with heavy mob overtones done on a Web series budget. There were so, so many ways it could go wrong. Yet, for the most part, Gelber And Manning In Pictures carries off its central conceit–about a musical duo moving closer to the big screen in the era of silent film–with surprising panache. Much of this is thanks to Lester’s direction, which is flashy without being overtly so. A sequence in which the titular duo performs in front of a bunch of big-time mob wheeler-dealers, with Gelber and Manning communicating about their existence entirely through facial gestures and visual cues, is pretty great and smashingly edited. Fittingly, Lester keys much of the pilot’s appeal to the silent films of the era, making things as visual as possible. And he’s able to rely on an existing 1920s recreation scene to make this all feel vaguely authentic (only obviously modern telephone poles spoil the illusion). Manning is a real find with her dynamite voice, though Gelber tries a little too hard to pull off a “golly gee!” kind of tone in his performance. What holds this one back is the fact that it feels like the first act of a cool pilot, just before everything really gets going.
Network this is perfect for: The similarities to Boardwalk Empire will likely prevent this from ever getting a pickup, but I could see this working on AMC.
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