Funnel of Darkness

Storm-chasers, beware! There are few things in the universe more dangerous than a motivated metal band and this one is aiming for funnel crowds, prize money, and glory.

Set out to capture the best documentary footage of a tornado in Oklahoma’s annual Funnel Baggin’ contest, Team Severe has turned its amps to eleven in order to claim a $10k prize and a magazine cover. Ten grand can go a good way to fund a music project and the notoriety that comes with the cover photo could be priceless. That last year’s storm-chase winners built a makeshift tank and shot on IMAX film isn’t going to stop these guys.

When Cliff Burton was killed did Metallica roll over and die? No, they just drowned the bass on …And Justice For All and then made a bunch of crappy albums after it! When Axl Rose’s ego splintered Guns ‘N’ Roses did he just give up? No, he spent the next fifteen years cycling through musicians to complete his masterpiece. Is Chinese Democracy about as good as China is democratic? Yeah, but he did it! And Team Severe is not going to let a few obstacles like not really being scientists or meteorologists or having no money get in their way.

Thus, we find ourselves face to face with a…Funnel of Darkness. This year Team Severe is going to take the Funnel Baggin’ Rally” by stor…errr…the scruff of it’s neck. Can the Oklahoma panhandle survive the onslaught of the team and their storm-chasing mobile, “Bad Brains“?

The first day did not go exactly to plan, it seems, but the Funnel Baggin’ Rally is a week-long competition so there should be ample time for the trifecta of tornadoes, booze and boobs. However, the gents’ arch nemeses (and bizarro Larry, Darryl & Darryl) Christine, Lisa & Lisa have taken an early lead by getting the best film of the opening day. Keith Severe (Keith Cecere), the cinematographer and self-appointed team leader maintains that the team’s karma (or chi, or something) is fully focused and they’re up to the challenge. No way is the team going to lose to three girls in a convertible. He’s got his camera ready, assistant Rich (Ruggiero) probably does as well and Mike (Scantlin), the meteorologist, is constantly tracking the latest changes in the air.

Funnel of Darkness LogoGlamorous as the competition appears, there is actually a lot of tedium involved in tornado-chasing. The rally may seem all-action, but most of the time is spent out on the road, driving and searching for twisters.

As any touring band knows, the hours spent together cooped up in the van can be pretty brutal and nerves are apt to fray quickly. Luckily Team Severe is attuned to these issues and knows that the effort is all worth it if they’re able to score that big prize. Brian (Sachson), the driver, explains this best in episode two and later, with audio-man James’ (DiPretoro) help, demonstrates one of the many tricks that the veteran road-warrior must have in his repertoire.

With a few days left in the rally, what kind of mischief can Team Severe get itself into and still vie for the grand prize? You’ll have to watch the remaining episodes to find out and trust me, it’s worth it.

Writer Kevin Johnston did a great job turning Keith’s and Rich’s stories into an entertaining, original mock reality series for IFC. While Funnel of Darkness may be slightly over-the-top it is still believable (they did all go and shoot tornados) and, honestly, if the home page didn’t state that this was a comedy series they could have had me going for a while. Of course things get a little out of control as the week wears on, but hey, truth is stranger than fiction, right? Go hit the road with the boys and see if they catch the big one.

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