Can you call documentaries that focus on awkward social interactions and power dynamics of schoolchildren a fad? You know, the films that look at kids against the backdrop of a hallmark, acne-inducing occasion. Maybe they’re a sub-genre? Anyways, they’re popular.
The geniuses behind Spellbound figured out that audiences positively react when you point the camera at America’s youth during a dramatic event (especially an event that’s irrelevant in the big picture, but seems like it could be a life-changing experience for those involved).
So, the same concept filmmakers applied to the Scripps National Spelling Bee made its way to competitive dancing with Mad Hot Ballroom and high school elections with Frontrunners (which comes out October 15, and looks awesome in an Alexander Payne kinda way).
Produced by Bombo Sports & Entertianment (creators of Red Sox Nation’s favorite flick, Still We Believe) in association with Warner’s Studio 2.0, High Drama follows the students at Cape Cod’s Barnstable High School (pronounced “BaWnstable” if you’re a local) on an 81-day trip along a windy emotional road that leads to a glamorous stage production of The Wizard of Oz.
At a school with the largest auditorium in New England and a drama club that trumps the football team in terms of popularity, Barnstable is the Emerald City of high school theater and certainly capable of producing a blockbuster performance. But is it a good setting for a documentary?
Maybe it’s the location, or maybe it’s The WB, but the series differs from it’s genre predecessors in that it’s all vanilla. I mean that both in terms of skin tone and content.
So far, we know the director is Mr. Sullivan (who looks, and dresses like an on-vacation Santa Claus), the Scarecrow/funny-student-with-artistic-differences is Elliot (who appears mild-mannered and whose idea of improv comedy is an impression of Jimmy Stewart), and our best shot at hysterics ended amicably when kinda-alternative senior Molly didn’t overreact after losing the role of Dorothy to straight-edged Kelly.
Granted, we’ve only seen two episode (and that dude in the trailer with long hair looks like he’s gotta be cool) and hopefully we’ll see more emotions and intrigue as opening day approaches. That, or the musical better be fantastic. Audiences who follow the 13-episode, weekly series will expect the payoff to be an amazing spectacle, not the equivalent of some ordinary man behind a curtain.