Started in 2003, Channel 101 is the work of two apparently disgruntled television screen writers, Don Harmon and Rob Schrab. The duo created the 1999 FOX pilot “Heat Vision and Jack,” starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Though it never aired on television, the show attracted the same sort of viral popularity that makes unlikely stars out of even the most reticent online personalities, and they went on to start a monthly Los Angeles online short film festival with an interesting twist.
Local artists submit five-minute pilot episodes, and the audience and creators of the current top shows choose which will be added to the lineup, with a limit of five series per month. As shows falter, they are removed from the Prime Time list, and replaced by an up-and-coming series.
Thus the site is constantly infused with the most outlandish, offensive plot lines this side of Hollywood. Several amateurs – including Andy Samberg – have gone on to Saturday Night Live, while established stars – including Sarah Silverman – make occasional appearances.
One paragraph certainly can’t do this site justice. First, viewers will want to check out some current and former Prime Time series. The Cancelled section houses a host of shows that were once Prime Time worthy, like Chad Vader or Phone Sexxers, which is set in the male phone sex industry. Even more extensive is the list of Failed Pilots – the shows that aired only once during the festivals, and never made it to the list of current series. The site professes that some of the best videos can be found there, despite the word “failed,” and in a forum dedicated to finding the least accessible, most offensive comedy imaginable, the prospect of a series that proved too much of a good thing is tantalizing.
If you’re still looking for more quality television at this point, a series of specials should finally leave you satisfied, but if you don’t trust your own judgment, view the most popular videos. Not surprisingly, a series by the clever name of “Kicked in the Nuts” can usually be found at the top of the list, despite the fact that it lasted for only two episodes in 2003. An extensive tutorial also abounds, with helpful instruction for the aspiring filmmaker.
Of the crop of Cancelled series, Fire Guys is perhaps one of the most outlandish. Picture a group of actresses playing misogynistic, sexually active firemen while dressed in intentionally awful drag. The pilot’s plot features a dangerous arsonist who is intent on killing members of the fire department, and it includes a few hilarious special effects and some sexual situations that are not likely to air on broadcast television anytime in this century.