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Nite Tales: The Series


Rod Lott January 17th, 2011

There's nothing wrong with the idea of an urban take on "Tales from the Crypt." It's been done successfully before, in 1995's "Tales from the Hood."

And now, unsuccessfully, in "Nite Tales," a television show on BET. This DVD release gathers five episodes, all written, directed and produced by one Deon Taylor.

Our host is none other than Public Enemy alum Flavor Flav as The Timekeeper. His delivery is impossible to digest without thinking of Tracy Morgan's "30 Rock" character, and to get into the spirit of things, Flav wears a top hat and vampire cape, presumably acquired at half off during Party Galaxy's post-Halloween clearance sale. As he advises viewers in his green-screen segments, "So sit back, mack and relax."

The problems with "Nite Tales" are visible immediately. In the first story, you see a security guard at night in a warehouse full of mannequins in the opening shots, and you know exactly how it will end. Unfortunately, there's some 20 or so minutes in between to sit through that's pure padding.

That's a recurring theme, unfortunately: bits that could've taken all of five minutes to set up and pay off. Instead, viewers must endure serious stalling tactics that sap any level of energy. A wannabe superstar rapper will do anything to hit the big time. Complete strangers (one of whom is Gary Busey) wake up in an empty room. Brigitte Nielsen is a black widow. Production values are the pits among the quintet.

For a show created by and targeted toward African-Americans, I'm a little surprised at the number of negative stereotypes it contains — i.e. weed smoking, lazy workers, "yo mama" jokes. Perhaps Taylor intends to parody these stereotypes, but they're not written skillfully enough to come off that way.

Taylor's obviously proud of his show, because the credit "Deon Taylor's" appears before each appearance of the title. No one told him you only get to put a possessive label above the title like that if you've earned it, à la John Carpenter. (Speaking of crew, one of the producers is someone named Steak House. Seriously! According to IMDb, he's behind such projects as "Goodnight Vagina," "Billy's Dad Is a Fudge-Packer" and "Lez B Friends / A Bike Bitch Hate Story.")

From the disc's production featurette, as long as any episode, Taylor seems like an awfully nice guy whose heart in the right place. But he's delusional if he thinks his show is, as he says, "out of the box" and "a piece that could compete with 'Tales from the Crypt' ... and 'Twilight Zone.'"

For one thing, the only frightening element is Nielsen's plastic-surgery-ravaged face. —Rod Lott


 
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