The reviews are in for Topps’ new Web series Back on Topps, starring Randy and Jason Sklar. OK, “review,” but it’s a Web series - what did you expect, Roger Ebert? Unfortunately, AD AGE isn’t being too kind, calling the Sklar Brothers “dopey” and saying the whole thing seems like a “sad imitator” of shows like Arrested Development. Is this the Waterworld of promotional Web series?
The premise? The Sklars play Leyland and Leif Topps, who find out that their uncle has sold the company business to a corporate conglomerate owned by Michael Eisner. They struggle to keep the mission of Topps cards afloat as the mean penny-pinching executive plots their downfall. Also, there’s a stalker. And sports cameos by Andre Ethier, Russell Martin and Kevin Love. So basically, whatever B-list athletes happened to be hanging around in LA that day and were down for getting a free lunch.
Is it any good? Check out an episode for yourself after the jump:
Having watched all four episodes so far, I can tell you that each one has a few chuckle-worthy scenes, and that’s about it. There are very few punchlines so much as random pop culture references combined with the theory that “repetition equals comedy.” It’s like a particularly unfunny taped skit from Cheap Seats, which is not a compliment. Or, picture a SportsCenter commercial stretched out to five minutes, and you get the idea.
What I have to ask is: Why? What audience is Topps trying to reach with this series? I would hazard a guess that the main collectibles market is still young kids - are they going to be excited about seeing Diane Arbus jokes? Extended riffs on Bob Tewksbury? Even if this was well-made, I can’t imagine that it would do much to help Topps stimulate it’s core group of customers to get out and buy more tickets.
The episode I posted mentioned Kris Benson, and in a roundabout way his wife Anna. If Topps wanted to reach their core audience (13-year-old boys and adult men who still live at home), they would take that ball and run with it. Give me a “Baseball Wives” collectible card set, and post Web videos on the making of the photo shoots. I’d rather see video of Julia Schultz (aka Mrs. Brett Tomko) getting ready for her close-up than two dweebs riff on Jose Oquendo for the umpteenth time.