Little-seen Trio pokes good fun at bad ideas with "Flops 101," an hour that gets pop culture points for revisiting questionable greenlights but contains little spunk or originality. Even though some of the more recent stage, screen and tube fiascoes are showcased, there's a tinge of laziness lining most of the segment.
Little-seen Trio pokes good fun at bad ideas with “Flops 101,” an hour that gets pop culture points for revisiting questionable greenlights but contains little spunk or originality. Even though some of the more recent stage, screen and tube fiascoes are showcased, there’s a tinge of laziness lining most of the segments; while the hour brings to light some info about Broadway the average viewer may not know — “Capeman” and “Seussical: The Musical” are solid examples of “What were they thinking?” — do we need another docu telling us how awful “Ishtar” and “Cop Rock” really were?
It’s the film side that struggles here, highlighting the two most-discussed bombs of our time (along with the Dustin Hoffman/Warren Beatty ego trip, show dissects “Waterworld”). But even that’s not entirely honest, because, though Kevin Costner’s schlock opus was a disaster during production, it wasn’t entirely a washout; movie has actually made $264 million globally since it was released in 1995.
So even if purpose-of-argument license is granted to the Kevin Reynolds-helmed pic, there are still few points raised that shed much light on what the overblown filming was like, what the mood at Universal was like and how it changed the business of blockbusters.
Television discussion is also a half-cocked job, as yet again we hear how much of a joke Steven Bochco’s “Cop Rock” was at the time (though on the record, several interview subjects echo what many say today — that the skein was a project that just isn’t as lame as critics believed it to be way back when).
While “Cop Rock” certainly defines poor judgment, there have been hundreds of major or high-profile shows since that were canceled right away, from “Bob Patterson” to “Firefly.” So picking on Bochco yet again just feels excessive.
On the flip side, however, is “Central Park West,” CBS’ poorly planned and overt attempt to woo the “90210” audience by getting into business with Darren Star. Not even an outdoor airing of the pilot episode in Times Square or a heavy promo push that rivaled anything the network ever did could save the show, which was nixed shortly thereafter.
Only the Broadway component rolls, with the project coming down hard on “Capeman” producer Paul Simon (for being such an egomaniac with something he had no experience doing) and on “Seussical,” which everyone agreed was supposed to be a no-brainer, since Dr. Seuss material should have provided plenty of user-friendly entertainment to a public that adored “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Docu tries to cutesy things up by following its classroom format to the letter with Illeana Douglas’ voiceover that takes on the role of teacher (“Class, what have we learned from Mr. Costner?”). But that slant wears itself out quickly — had this been a more researched account of the dollars and cents behind some of the entertainment industry’s biggest gaffes, “Flops” would have been tops.