'Old Friends' Might Be Our New Best Friends

By 09/29/2009
'Old Friends' Might Be Our New Best Friends

Old FriendsTim Curcio just ran into Nick Ross, whom he hasn’t seen since high school and would have preferred it stay that way. Because, though Tim married his high school sweetheart, Nick took her virginity. Now Nick wants like hell to be Tim’s best friend, while Tim would rather see Nick get hit by a truck. That’s Old Friends, though Tim would never describe them as such.

Bottom line, this show is good. From top to bottom: premise, performances, and production all conspire to create one solid web-series with some serious legs. Tim and Nick both from NYC’s Upright Citizen Brigade not only play Tim and Nick, but created and write the show. Their last project, Park Bench, was a crowd favorite last summer. And Matt Cady as DP and producer deserves serious props for its beautiful production value and crisp look. The three of them partners in their production company, Metropolitan Bait and Tackle are working with producer Dave Title and Crossroads Films to bring this nice new show to a computer screen near you. And thank god for that.

First of all, the uncomfortable tension between Curcio and Ross will have you squirming with laughter. Curcio as a character is both slightly annoying and totally justified in his discomfort with Ross’s inappropriate reminders of their shared past. You love and hate both of these guys, Curcio just needs to get over it and Ross just needs to stop being such a douchebag about it, even though it’s hilarious how uncouth he is. Especially funny is in episode 2 when Ross first sees Curcio’s wife, Andrea (played by Amy Flanagan), at a bar and mentions, as a complete non-sequitur, “I took your virginity.” Why? Because he’s a douchebag…or maybe a sociopath.

And that gets to the real reason I think this show is great. There is some subtle, yet deep character work going on here. Ross can not understand why Curcio hates him so much and neither can anyone else, it’s like Curcio is living in the twilight zone. Yet, when Ross starts dating Andrea’s best friend, Katie (played by Natalie Knepp), and meets an old boyfriend of hers in episode 5, he can’t help but accuse the guy of trying to win her back, eventually provoking the guy into socking him in the face. He’s maddening. So maddening that you almost feel sorry for him and actually begin to understand why Curcio seems to start actually being his friend.

Old Friends - stillsAnd that’s the other reason I love this show. There’s an arc to these characters. This premise could have easily gone down a road that would have lost steam in a few eps, but instead the characters actually have turns and reversals. When Ross talks to Curcio about being in love in episode 4, you begin to feel Curcio starting to appreciate Ross and vice versa. So that in episode 6, when the boys show up to surprise the ladies at a café, you start to see that this simple joke about a dude that just won’t go away might actually be a deeper story about a complicated relationship with some complex characters.

I don’t want to oversell it, because I am projecting a little bit into it, but I was definitely surprised to see myself compelled by these people beyond the laughter and actually wanting to see things work out for all of them in some weird way. Oddly, I came away feeling like I was watching the new Friends, with less jokes, but perhaps a little bit more interesting characters. That’s not an easy task in the short-burst world of web TV.

At between one and half and three minutes a piece, each of these eps leaves you wanting more. There are six episodes so far with a seventh on the way, guest starring Mary Elizabeth Ellis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. All of them can be found at oldfriends-theseries.com (a simple, yet elegant site), and their YouTube channel, MetropolitanBandT. According to their website, their first three eps have been featured on the front page viewer of Funny or Die and the show won Channel 101 New York in both July and August and they were screened at the New York Television Festival this past month.

All of these kudos and this momentum are completely justified as far as I’m concerned. I want to see this show succeed and break out and I want you to watch and support it so that happens. This show feels like TV, good TV, with developed characters, a crisp look and strong storytelling. And it’s funny. So why are you still reading? Go. Watch it. Now.