It wasn’t until the latest episode of Ocean’s 7-11, a new show from Paisano Pictures, that I laughed out loud at a joke in the show, and it was one of the only moments that wasn’t a spoof of Ocean’s 11, an observation that defines the show pretty well.
The title Ocean’s 7-11 explains the premise of the show; it takes the jokes from the original movie, and applies them to a group of ragtag criminals (led by ‘Clooney Ocean’) who are set on stepping up their game in the field of robbing convenience stores. I recently spoke to co-creators Heath Centazzo (who also plays Ocean) and Tim Calandrello, who explained, “The project started when Centazzo was making his daily stop at a 7-11 store in 2007 after watching Soderberg’s 2001 remake of Ocean’s 11 and – just like that – he had the idea for the series.”
Centazzo and Calandrello have both been around in the entertainment business since 2000, but this is their first project in which they exercise full creative control. They are still in the process of securing funding. “Our hope is that we will find an investor/distributor to help finance us into the mainstream. We have vigorously been developing several new show concepts that we hope will extend beyond the web and into network or cable televisions, and/or films. But for the moment, we are concentrating on new web series… We are actively pursuing funding from several different avenues, and are in the process of setting up and taking meetings.”
The press release for their show notes that Centazzo and Calandrello worked in Hollywood, “until they realized they could let the Internet’s instant audience of millions judge the duo’s creative ideas for themselves.” The audience for Ocean’s 7-11 hasn’t exactly brought “millions” of viewers, however, something that the co-creators acknowledged. They were featured in an episode of the (now defunct) show Viral, which has garnered just under 700,000 views, but the episodes themselves have barely garnered 50,000 hits combined through Veoh and YouTube, with the majority of those (34,000) from the first part of episode 1, which was featured on YouTube’s front page.
The ultimate problem is that the premise is original, but the jokes aren’t. Ocean’s 11 was a popular movie, so people know it pretty well and can get the subtle references from the web series. At the same time, after the first part of episode 1, when Clooney Ocean discusses his past history of small time crime, the 7-11 joke stops being funny. It’s only the latest episode, part 4 of episode 2, when I laughed at a joke, one which I noted wasn’t from the movie.
Calandrello and Centazzo certainly have potential, and the show is produced and edited pretty well, especially with such a low budget. They would benefit, however, from writing a lot more of their own original material. If they don’t, my guess is that the final product, which will be 60 parts, could be edited down to maybe 10 or 15 minutes of funny material. I will keep watching the show as new episodes come out (although there’s currently no regular schedule, another fact that doesn’t help garner views), more out of the hope that the show will live up to its potential than on the merits of the content already produced.