Prior to the creation of the show, producer and director Jeff Macpherson directed his first film in 2000, an independent drama entitled Come Together, which was well received yet failed to garner distribution. After a different movie deal with MTV fell through, Macpherson spontaneously decided to build a tiki bar in his apartment, and Tiki Bar TV was born. The show gained popularity immediately after Steve Jobs used it in the launch of Apple’s video iPod in October of 2005.
The show’s three main characters are: Lala, played by Lara Doucette, who begins every episode with a flirtatious dance; the bartender Johnny Johnny, played by animation producer Kevin Gamble; and of course, Dr. Tiki, played by Macpherson.
As troubled characters – including the Limey bastard, the Stranger, The Ambassador, The Duke of Url, Drinkbot, and others – stumble across Johnny Johnny’s Tiki Bar, Dr. Tiki himself remedies his or her ailments by way of the age-old cure-all – alcohol. Slightly scripted and replete with outtakes, each episode highlights one patron’s problem, instructs you on how to make the best cocktail for its cure, and answers a piece of viewer-submitted Tiki Mail.
Each segment usually ends with a sloppy drunken dance and a recipe for the “prescribed” drink. Excellent camera work, a minimalist set, masterful editing, well-placed effects, incredibly intelligent writing and a creative cast with great chemistry all combine to create a production in which the merits infinitely exceed the slightly above shoestring budget. If you like wry, clever comedies or productions that are wonderfully put together, this is not one to miss.
It’s hard to choose a favorite Tiki Bar TV episode, but Hulla Balloo is one of the best at showing off the show’s various talents. Hilarious use of throwback visual effects, emphatic music, a great Tiki Mail, and a slightly sloppy Lala all make for a well-rounded episode. If you really want to get a feel for the show, however, start with Episode 1 and work your way up.