Its 1:03 pm
I have written plenty about the movies I have found while shopping the Dollar Tree sales. But there is something relatively new that has been popping up and that is seeing boxed sets of TV series in the sales bin. Those of you who collect your favorite TV know exactly how expensive those sets can be brand new.
When my pal Catfish and I went to Walmart a while ago,we saw that the first season of “Daredevil” that had aired on Netflix had hit the home market,we were both excited to see this but when we saw the series of 13 eposodes was 32.00 bucks,well we weren’t so excited.
This is why seeing small short run series suddenly pop up at Dollar Tree,folks were grabbing them up and yep,that included me grabbing a show I had never heard of in “10 Items or Less”.
“10 Items” was a series that aired on TBS back in 2006. The premise was interesting,set in a indie grocery store in Ohio called the Greens and Grains,the store has been run by the Poole family for 150 years.
Leslie Poole (John Lehr) moves back home to take the Greens and Grains when his father dies at the store. While its clear Leslie is clueless and out of his comfort zone,he still bravely charges forward in keep the Greens and Grains going. Lucky for Leslie,he has a group of lovable misfits to help him led by the store’s handyman Carl (Bob Clendenin) who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Bob happens to be in love and the father of Yolonda’s (Roberta Valderrama) son when they had a sexual fling at a company picnic. Yolonda,who is from Puerto Rico,runs the produce section. Richard (Christopher Liam Moore) is the slightly wound up gay cashier who dreams of being a professional skater and Buck (Greg Davis,Jr.) is Richard’s bagger. Buck is currently studying at night to become a doctor. Richard and Buck have the most normal friendship in the store.
The customer service desk is run by Ingrid (Kirsten Gronfield) who has a secret and lastly,the store’s Romeo in Todd the butcher (Chris Payne Gilbert). It also had a “arch-enemy” in Amy Anderson (Jennifer Elise Cox) who runs the Super Value Mart (Walmart) across the way. It doesn’t help that Leslie still has a crush on Amy from high school….
What made “10 Items” so quirky was the fact it was strictly an improv show,there were no scripts given to the cast. Lehr,(who helped create the show) along with his co-producers Robert Stark Hickey and Nancy Hower (who directed all 21 episodes of the series) did write a detailed script but the actors only got a basic outline of that week’s story and they had to improv from there. According to Lehr,while the show was cut down to a regular 20-22 minute episode,each show was cut down from 30 HOURS of filming! Can you even imagine being the editor for “10 Items”??
I’ll be honest,while this little show had a lot of heart,I can’t get over at how much work must have went into it. With the format being what it was,the seasons were extremely short even by basic cable standards. The first season in 2006 was only five episodes and the second season,which up in 2007,ran only eight.
But was “10 Items” just too strange for its own good? While I think the concept looked good on paper and in the pitch to Sony Television and the cast was bright and hard working,the choice to do 100% improv doomed the show. Many of you know I absolutely love “Scrubs” and while Bill Lawrence has gone on record saying he loves good improv,you can see where script and improv blended together the stories and helped give the show a structure. If you’re doing a sketch show like “Saturday Night Live” then improv works. But without a foundation,too much depends on what the cast would be bring on “10 Items” and it was wildly uneven.One show could be funny in places and then cut to another scene and it died.
I do like the show was always pretty chirpy and happy,this was a comedy and it was proud of that fact and after watching “Scrubs” and “How I Met Your Mother”,it was a welcome blast of fresh air to sit back and expect no heavy drama…it didn’t always work but the cast,led by Lehr,kept on trying!!
There were some standout episodes that were funnier then others and working in a big grocery store for several years,I can tell you,we did have a lot of crazy characters working there.
My favorite episode from season one was “The Miracle Worker”. When a stain appears on a wall that looks like Jesus,Leslie decides to take full advantage of it causing both outrage and drawing customers with some seriously good sales. This draws the ire of Amy Anderson when Leslie puts flyers on Super Value Mart’s parking lot.
The second season saw a LOT of romance in the air as the crew of the Greens and Grains get to know other a lot better in unexpected ways. This actually produced the two best episodes of season two.
In “Forever Young”,after Buck shows up to work hung over and late,Leslie suspects he has a drinking problem and rallies to the team to help Buck. But when Leslie founds out the truth,that Buck hooked up with Amy on a one stand,he wants Buck to take him out the clubs.
While season one hinted at a possible romance between Todd and Ingrid,in season two that was pretty much forgotten. In “The First” Ingrid reveals she is a virgin and she has decided that she wants Leslie to be “The One”. But when Leslie can’t close the deal,he suspects he is gay and turns to Richard for guidence.
The strongest part of the show was the cast,when I first watched this series,I knew no one in it. But when I went back and looked again,I still only knew one face and that was Bob Clendenin and that was because he was on “Scrubs” and then a film Zach Braff did called “Wish I Was Here”.
All of them had their moments to shine,that is one positive aspect about a improv show,there isn’t any one main star,its a total team effort and you have to be fast on your creative feet!
While the DVD set I picked up has the first two seasons,Sony did release the entire series in a boxed set and you can get it on Amazon. The first two seasons has 13 episodes and extras include a “Behind-the-Scenes” look,casting notes and a pair of viral clips that damn funny.
If you enjoy taking a chance on something new or like short run series (yes,that is a thing) then the cheetah and I recommend “10 Items Or Less”.
Feel free to drop a comment!