Series 7 (2001)

SERIES 7, caught a couple weeks ago, is a channel-changer.  Though 
intriguing at first, this pitch-black comic cross of "The Lottery," 
"The Most Dangerous Game," and the television show "Survivor" is 
more under-compelling than anything else.  (*Ass*-numbingly under-
compelling, if you ask me...)  The film, a satire of "Survivor" and 
other "reality-based" TV competitions, features a faux show called 
"The Contenders," about six ordinary people issued both a gun and 
an open license to shoot each other.  (With homicide the ultimate 
goal of the game, as the last man or woman standing wins some un-
specified prize.)  So, in the actual *format* of a television epi-
sode-- or, rather, *three* consecutive episodes-- we're shown title
credits, cliffhanging commercial breaks (though without accompany-
ing ads), and the requisite, dramatic-sounding announcer introducing
"this week's players" as well as the returning champ, an eight-month
pregnant woman with some 12 or 14 "kills" to her name.  (Them ragin'
hormones are handy for somethin'!)  Introductory segments ensue, 
framing the characters and preparing them to "play."  The scenes are
straight-forward, largely dull, and only occasionally crackle with a
memorable jolt of sardonic juice.  (e.g. pious nurse preaching about
life's sanctity while methodically cleaning handgun, etc.)

The first-hour "slowness" also allows *way* too much viewer mulling, 
such as the absurdity of contestants trying to stealthily stalk each 
other while accompanied by... a camera crew.  (Well, one-person cam-
era crew.)  Things pick up approaching hour two as the body count 
begins to climb.  And while the docu-style violence *is* refreshing-
ly jarring-- just as the fun-poking is sometimes quite rich-- the 
only *promising* piece of this regrettable forgettable is a fleet-
ing reference to an anti-"Contender" underground movement.  (Parti-
cipation in the government-sponsored show is mandatory.  And, as one
character discovers, committing suicide is against the rules.  They
have the technology to continue your playing...)  Yawnsville, Pop. 
400, says me, 'cause there just ain't any "snap."  Too many "coming
up next" cutaways.  Too much "down time" between gun fights.  And,
as least to this trash-television connoisseur rat, a faux-show for-
mat that simply isn't cheesy enough.  (Ha!  Pun!)  Come on, make me
groan.  Roll my eyes.  Don't play out so damn nearly as much as ex-
pected.  I daresay the only surprise to be had *here* would involve
watching with someone who thinks it's all *real*.  Now that could 
be fun...  With Brooke Smith, Glenn Fitzgerald, Marylouise Burke,
Michael Kaycheck, Richard Venture, and Merritt Wever.  (Rated "R"/91

Grade: C-

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros