Overcrowded (2009) – By Jon Reino

Today’s television market is flooded with "reality" shows and unoriginal mindless content, the more channels that seem to be available on your 500 channel cable line-up the harder it is to find anything even remotely interesting. At the same time, the independent film world is being flooded with a massive overload of content fueled by the internet and advancements in consumer cameras. As you can imagine, given these circumstances, it must be very hard to break through in the television world as an independent filmmaker.

Overcrowded is the adventures of four (possibly five) misfit roommates in a small apartment. Greg, Dan, Marc, and Paul all seem to have more than a few screws loose, but compliment each other well. The beginning of this one hour time-slot comedy shows a rather long intro sequence with pretty stereotypical sitcom stylings including incoherent clips of random events and standard cheesy music with the title squeezed in for good measure. I have to admit that this sequence is a little painful to sit through and feels longer than the minute and a half it actually is. The opening scene is not much easier to stomach, it is random and over the top in it’s incoherent once liners and dimwitted responses, but to the credit of the writers, who also play two of the characters, some of the interactions are pretty funny. They discuss randomness of the Yakuza and bonsai trees until they hear a noise outside and file into a perfect picture of four heads squeezing to see out of a window. They discover they have a new neighbor and decide to go greet them. Up until this point I was thinking that the next forty minutes are going to be a mess but once they meet the neighbor things finally start fitting together. One character role plays having an affair with the new neighbors wife, one attempts to take over the neighbor’s job, one pursues a path of enlightenment with the aid of bonsai trees and half-nakedness, and one goes on a job interview with the Japanese mafia and manages to stab a mob boss.

The one thing that bothers me about this pilot is the cinematography, mostly based around the poor quality of the picture. 2009 is not old enough to have video that looks like it was shot on Hi8, and many of the shots are too similar and get very boring after a while. The editing is not bad and the sound is well mixed. Greg Vorob and Dan Conrad’s writing is by no means tight and often relies on cheap laughs but by the end of the pilot I found that I had grown to know and love the characters and was laughing almost constantly. The premiss feels surprisingly original, today’s mundane and pretentious television market could benefit from a show like Overcrowded, which is not afraid to border on stupidity and is often rewarded for that bravery. I feel that I need to warn the viewer that the acting is more than over the top, and at times is begging for a chuckle, but in a rather "Monty Python" way the goofiness of the acting works to their advantage.

My advice to the filmmakers would be to give it another shot. There is an enormous amount of potential in Overcrowded but the quality of the picture lacks professionalism and the first five minutes are a little hard to get through, but this quirky comedy opens up to become a unique diamond in the rough. With a better camera and a few more bucks this pilot could stand out and manage to become a prominent network sitcom, but could definitely stand out as a viral web series sensation if broken down into smaller bits like an eight episode season of five minutes per episode.

In the mean time, the Overcrowded pilot is definitely worth the watch. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uGuMx_vEnk to watch the pilot, and check out their IMDb page at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1566935.