'Next Time on Lonny" Is Maker's Parody of TV

You might be a little confused watching “Next Time on Lonny,” which started its second season this week, now on Maker.TV. The episode begins with a voiceover intoning, “Now Back To ‘Lonny In Los Angeles.’” After a brief clip—Lonny has moved to L.A. and met the cute neighbor, that same voice adds—“Next time, on an all new ‘Lonny,’" followed by another snippet.

In fact, this is the format for “Next Time on Lonny,” which begins each week in the form of highlights from an upcoming episode that never actually develops like that clip.

It’s a perfect format for short video episodes—the first one in this season is less than six minutes long—because it plays to all the developing conventions of the genre, including quick takes, ridiculously long hops of logic and time in the plot line and characters who come and go in an instant.  

This is the premium video content makers want to sell to big-time sponsors. It makes sense, but it does take a certain kind of advertiser. Verizon is the sponsor for season two, but every episode I saw also had pre-roll for Denny’s.

“Next Time on Lonny” is also stridently guy-oriented, gun-oriented and loaded with cold-blooded murders that are played for laughs. (Not so funny.)

The first episode, in which Lonny has moved from New York to Los Angeles, is just all wrong, but watch the other two Maker has made available this week. They’re much more on point. The fourth episode gets released on Thursday, establishing a Tuesday and Thursday drop date for all the rest to come.

In some ways, “Next Time” might be a pretty good example of the new landscape for program developers.  

Series creators Dan Schimpf  and Alex Anfanger (who also plays Lonny) were college roommates at NYU when they created the first season of the show. In 2011, it  was shown on Cracked.com. 

These guys are keen parodists of television and culture — and this series is a good vehicle to observe it.   

The original “Next Time” came to the attention of Ben Stiller, who grabbed hold and is now the executive producer. His Red Hour Digital and Maker Studios are now producing the show. (Schimpf and Anfanger are also creating a series for Comedy Central, which seems to be heading them in the logical direction.)

Guest stars will include Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt,  Kal Penn, Jon Daly and Haley Joel Osment, among many others.  

But this show isn’t what it’s billed to be. It’s advertised as a parody of reality TV, but that really points you in the wrong direction. Lonny stays Lonny, a kind of affable single guy, but Lonny changes a bit (or a lot) in each episode:

He’s a reluctant driver for a gang of bank robbers; he’s a do-gooder politician who ends up banging, snorting, cavorting and shooting his way through office; he’s a hardened criminal whose first taste of the wrong side of the law happens when he’s nabbed for cable theft of service, but who regresses to gang-banging before finding religion.

The first batches of the new season have their moments, but, not to make a horrible pun, they miss a little of the softer side of Lonny from the first season, when, for example, he was an in-love young man contemplating whether he should masturbate before his date arrives.

As with a lot of online video, the idea of a linear plot line is extremely not worth bringing up.   

It’s worth noting that Maker is now the property of the Walt Disney Co., and one of the biggest and showiest video content creators, by tonnage at least, walking with the swagger a $1 billion investment seems to create. Maker, indeed, is stuffed with content. With series like this—rude and crude and simple but also pretty brilliant—you see the way things might be headed.

  pj@mediapost.com

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