It takes quite an acting performance to outshine Tom Arnold on the koo-koo front, but Overkill, the new comedy web series from 60Frames debuting this week has accomplished just that. You see, it’s his daughter Carrie (Allison Munn) who takes the bonkers cake in this one, a pretty young lady with a zesty penchant for serial killers.
Allison Munn has been playing crazy so long I’m starting to wonder what’s going on there. Yes, I remember her from That ’70s Show as Fez’s’ psycho-possessive girlfriend Caroline. Apparently so do Overkill creators Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin who incidentally produced That 70’s Show a few years back. Her scrunchy-faced brand of crazy really got going as Cindy in ABC’s short-lived half-hour Carpoolers, and it lends a polish to this otherwise risky storyline.
The story picks up at Episode 1: “Dead Man Walking” (above) with a quiet young retail clerk Henry Graham (Brendan Brandt) thrown in the slammer as the presumed Overkiller, a sadistic serial killer with an excessive OCD murdering style. Victims are beaten, stabbed, dismembered, guillotined, poisoned, strangled, microwaved and a few other odious executions. Poor unassuming prep Henry has taken the fall for this and finds himself counting down the days to inevitable doom on the electric chair.
First however, he faces another inevitable doom, a death row marriage to his serial killer stalking inamorata, Carrie. Accompanied by her disapproving father (Arnold) and her sobbing mother (Suanne Spoke) the prison wedding is just the beginning of this twisted family comedy.
We talked to creators Ventimilia and Sternin on the phone about the series, which marks the veteran TV writing-producing duo’s first dabble in the web series world. Talking to them on the phone by the way, you can tell they have known each other for a very long time (since junior high), and distinguishing which one is which can be a bit tricky. (Apparently, I’m not the only one with this problem as they tell me even their mothers have this trouble with their conference calls.)
The duo have been busy writing mainstream family comedy films, like Tooth Fairy which is in production starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But for them the web has been their outlet to go darker, to write the more offbeat humor that they would “probably have a hard time pitching,” Sternin tells me. Originally set up by their agents at Endeavor, they went in to 60Frames pitched with just the first episode written. Once shooting began, they had to balance their dark fetish comedy with their bread and butter projects. “We were literally turning in a draft of Yogi Bear as we were shooting one of the killing scenes,” Ventimilia added.
On the casting of Allison Munn, they explained, “We cast her back on That 70’s Show as Fez’s crazy ex-girlfriend. She was so terrific we had her in our minds since then and when we wrote this series we thought it had to be Allison.” I asked about what to expect from the next few episodes, and without giving the twisting plotline away, he hinted at what’s in store. “The deaths have just started and they are going to get bigger and funnier,” Sternin promised. “It becomes something different in the next episode— and then it keeps turning on itself because we didn’t want it to stagnate at all.”
We interviewed Tom Arnold on set of another new web series coming out next year (more of this interview later) and he echoed the sentiment of his Easy to Assemble co-star Illeana Douglas who equated web series as “the new independent film.” “I think what we used to know as independent film is fading a little bit,” he told us, “but I think that collaborative spirit is what we’re seeing with web series.” And though there’s a web studio behind Overkill, in many ways its still subject to finding an audience without a massive studio marketing effort to push it out everywhere.
Four episodes is all we are slated to get from Overkill in its initial run as a weekly series. That fretful little bugger we call a mini web series (for lack of a better name) strikes again? In fact, 60Frames has been known to tease us like this, (oh Get Ripped we hardly knew ye.) Venitmilia and Sternin said they would “love to continue the series,” and in fact have written 12 episodes that fully carry the story arc through a full web season. The fate of those next eight episodes rests in the hands of web viewers. So if you like it, they ask of you, “tell your friends and get people to watch it.” That you can do with new episodes every Thursday (through Christmas Day) at 60Frames or YouTube.