The Black Box: “Shasta McNasty”

Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.

This week, fuck the 1990s.

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So this week I’d originally decided to watch a different show, the 2005 sitcom “Life on a Stick”. I watched through it and found it to be, well, not bad. It was overall harmless and decently funny in parts. And, not wanting a repeat of my “Carpoolers” review, I just decided to pick another show to review this week. And I made a mistake. No one should ever have watched this show. Maximizing its exposure by reviewing it for you makes me a terrible person. It’s like opening a pandora’s box of horseshit.

“Shasta McNasty” was a sitcom airing on that most prestigious of tv channels, UPN.

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If you think this is the LAST time we’ll be talking about UPN, you’re higher than their programmers probably were.

The series premiered on October 5th, 1999 and ran full a full 22 episode season before its cancelation. The series focused on a trio of wannabe rappers living in Los Angeles and getting up to wacky shenanigans. Most of these shenanigans are of the “I am incredibly uncomfortable watching this” variety. Seriously, though, FUCK this show. And here’s why:

What they did right: Nothing. Not even ONE good thing.

What they did wrong: OH MY FUCKING GOD here we go. So the episode starts with a 90s MTV-esque montage of shots around Venice Beach, which is good, because it tells me our main characters are douchebags before the show actually gets the chance to do so itself. Then we are introduced to two of our trio, Randy and Dennis, played by Dale Godboldo and Jake Busey.

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                                                                  Ahh, the 90s!!!!! It hurts!!!!

What are they watching in the above shot? I’ll tell you. They are watching their tv, which is hooked up to a camera pointed out their window, which is filming a woman living in the building across from them as she undresses. This is apparently a thing they do often. I don’t know what makes me madder, The fact that they’re peeping toms, or the fact that they don’t even have the energy to get up off the couch and go watch this girl through their fucking window. The camera makes it ten times worse, especially when later dialogue makes it clear they’ve also been RECORDING HER CHANGING. This show might actually set the land speed record for how quickly I can hate a set of characters. And then we meet Scott.

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                                                                        GAAAaaaAAaHHH!!!!!!!

Believe it or not, this jackass is the closest we come to a likable character throughout the pilot. This is Scott, played by Carmine Giovinazzo. Oh, but don’t worry, he still joins the other two to watch our unnamed sexual object as she strips. He then opines about how much he loves this girl he’s never spoken to and how much he wants to be with her. Randy and Dennis agree, just as creepily. Fun fact: WE AREN’T EVEN A  FULL MINUTE INTO THE EPISODE YET!!!!!!! Jesus Christ.

We get through the terrible opening credits sequence and we are introduced to this episode’s B-story: Randy and Dennis going through wacky schemes to make the Pizza Boy late so their pizza will be free. This… probably COULD be funny. It isn’t, but it easily could have been, so points for that. The trio then notices that stripping girl’s boyfriend is cheating on her with another girl. They watch, because these characters are literal pieces of shit given sentience, before deciding that they need to find some way to expose her boyfriend’s cheating to her. Not because she should know about it, but because they think she’ll rebound fuck them if they do. And then–

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                                             OH FUCK, HE SEES US!!!!!!!!!!!

JE-sus Christ, that scares me every time. Because guess what? Almost five whole minutes and three whole scenes into this thing, Scott breaks the fourth wall and starts narrating the episode. This might be the worst integrated narration I’ve ever seen. He explains to us that he, Dennis, and Randy have been friends since childhood. The trio want to be rappers, and even as someone who has mediocre knowledge of rap music at best, I can tell you these three suck at it. They got a record deal fuckin’ somehow, and moved from Chicago to LA only to find the record label had gone under. But they’d been paid in advance and didn’t have to give the money back (bull-fucking-shit) so now they just have a lot of money to play around with. I don’t know how they even got a deal, considering the fact that these A-holes don’t even have the musical talent of “Peep Show”‘s Superhans.

Back to the real plot, our dumbfuck trio decides to break into the girl’s apartment and plant women’s underwear to frame the boyfriend for a crime he actually was committing. Scott gets sent to actually break in, and discovers the girl owns a parrot. And this is when I realized this show was written by idiots. Because the parrot started talking. And I know what you’re thinking, “Um, parrots DO talk, like, in real life.” And the answer to that is “not really”. You see, parrots imitate human speech, but they have no clue what they’re actually saying. They can’t, like, answer questions or anything like that. GUESS WHAT THE PARROT IN THIS SHOW CAN DO? Oh, and after it carries on a full conversation with Scott, they have a fight.

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                                                   I had to watch this… for you.

At this point, one of my notes just says, “I hate this”. I’m pretty sure I was broken by this point, because my notes turned from observations of jokes I could make in my review and into me just writing down things that were happening. Here’s a snippet.

-Girl comes back to apartment.

-Scott jumps out window to avoid her. He slams into the concrete like a rat thrown in front of a freight train.

-Scott is in an ambulance. Randy and Dennis are there for some reason and they all rap while Scott is being rushed to the hospital.

-Scott is in a coma in critical condition. Randy and Dennis puppet his unconscious body using IVs and catheters. This is all played for laughs.

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                                                           Just… why?

After we get back from that little detour, we find out that the underwear plan didn’t work. Like, at all. So they come up with a new plan, use the dog that they’ve had this whole time but that I forgot to mention to get her attention. Then, when she comes up to the guys’ place to return the dog, they’d point out the window so she could see her boyfriend cheating on her in her place across the street. They do this and it works, but the girl is so pissed at her boyfriend and at guys in general that, instead of sleeping with any of our trio, she becomes a lesbian! Wah, wah, wa–fuck you.

Then, at the end of the episode, we finally get payoff for the pizza boy thing. After locking the pizza guy in the elevator to ensure he would be late, they open the door to discover… it’s not their usual pizza guy. Instead, it’s this guy:

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That guy actually professional wrestler “Big Show”. Know how I know that? Because, in the biggest what-the-fuck moment of this entire episode (and that’s saying something) he turns to the camera, introduces himself as “Big Show” and tells viewers at home not to miss Wrestlemania, up next on UPN. That’s right, they actually wrote the commercial bumper into the fucking script of the fucking show. AND THAT’S HOW IT ENDS!!!!! Look, I know “Shasta McNasty” wasn’t going to be the pinnacle of artistic integrity no matter what, but they could have at least tried.

And that’s it for this week, next week, we look at something that will, no doubt, be better by comparison.

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