Whilst browsing Blip this morning in my routine quest for entertainment worth talking about, the most peculiar thing happened – Blip.tv’s somewhat hit and miss “Staff Picks” category lobbed a massive and unexpected Australian curveball at me named Dick Dribble Pro-Baller/Private Eye.
Dick Dribble (PB/PI) is an irrepressible retro-funk pastiche, that’s either been shot with the blasé confidence of a longtime professional or with the beginners luck of an amateur. On it’s surface, the show is a short form crime solving sitcom with a faux “70′s b-movie” style. It features the sloppy camerawork, choppy editing and stiff performances that are all associated with that genre. Scratch below the surface however, and what you’ll find is a polished, confident and self aware comedy that has the power to charm you into its lurid and nonsensical world. It always seems to manage to leave me wanting just a little bit more. It’s an accomplishment then in terms of direction, and one matched with a tightly packed script and great deliveries from the cast. Sharp and perfectly timed gags repeatedly hit the mark. It’s an uncompromisingly silly brand of humour that I think you’ll either love or you’ll hate. Like Vegimite for your funnybone.
Just like Vegimite, the concept behind Dick Dribble is ludicrous enough to deserve special mention – Dick Dribble (Daniel Cowan) is a hardboiled Pro-Basketballer/Private Eye who solves crimes on the court. Working out of a cramped bedroom in his mothers house, Dick ventures out into the world every episode uncovering mysteries with his reluctant assistant/neighbour Ray. Unlike other low budget shows of its kind, Dick Dribble (PB/PI) avoids the usual pitfalls of feeling small, confined or limited by cost – the cheap production only enhances the well-established retro style and a dependably energetic performance by lead Daniel Cowan invigorates what could otherwise be drab or slow moving scenes. A typical episode may only involve a small handful of roles, but the cast work excellently with each other with an easy and natural dynamism that keeps the pacing high. Likewise, the crews willingness to take the action outdoors instead of sticking to a small number of easily controlled environments spices episodes up and lends them an exciting sense of scope and adventure reminiscent of Squaresville.
Much like Hipsterhood and Squaresville, Dick Dribble (PB/PI) is a show that fully embraces the short online format. Episodes are jam packed with content, clocking in 4-5 minutes a piece yet each containing their own complete narrative, beginning with an initial mystery that blossoms into an investigation and comes to a satisfying conclusion. There are no lengthy intros – all you get is a short hit of of the title with a catchy jingle after the opening scene – it’s a perfect breather to prepare you for the madness ahead. Likewise, episodes don’t end with gratuitous credits – they end with a joke. This approach makes episodes easy to marathon one after another – a blessing and a curse, as there are only six of them online.
Just like Channel 4′s similarly themed spoof comedy “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” Dick Dribble (PB/PI) has its rough patches. The larger than life titular character that acts as the central focus in both series ultimately falls victim to the demands of the highly idiosyncratic format. Darkplace’s Matthew Holness and Dick Dribble’s Daniel Cowan each turn out bold and appropriately cheesy performances that drive the plot and theme of their respective series, but these gargantuan roles also serve to rob them individually of the truly memorable lines. The supporting cast in both series somehow outshine the central character. It’s not a flaw with the writing or the acting – there is no show without Dick – it’s simply a byproduct of the heavily stylised surrealist angle that the show is inspired by.
Don’t let this put you off though, Dick Dribble (PB/PI) is a seriously entertaining and well produced show that I’d confidently call an Internet classic in the making. It’s the spiritual successor to Darkplace that I never thought I’d ever get, and for that alone it will always occupy a very special, basketball shaped place in my heart.
With it’s most recent episode airing in January, there’s certainly hope for more “crime re-enactments” hitting our browsers in the near future. Until then I’ll just have to work my way through the sketch comedy goldmine on producer TBAAG’s Youtube Channel. Something tells me I’ll be alright… and you will too if you watch episode one of Dick Dribble (PB/PI) right here and make sure to check out their channel at youtube, then follow @Dick_Dribble for all the latest updates and news.
– Edited slightly for readability 15/2/12a