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Reviewed by Will Harris
t’s amazing that the life of a rock and roll band hasn’t been more widely utilized as the premise of a TV series. Well, actually, let’s clarify that: what’s amazing is that the real life of a rock and roll band hasn’t been more widely utilized. There have been plenty of fake rockers on the airwaves, from Jocks-Wa-Hey (“The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star”) to “Josie and the Pussycats,” but rarely does it feel like anything less than a creation. In the case of “Z Rock,” however, the series is actually inspired by the real-life adventures of the band that stars in it, even if your initial instinct is to believe that it can’t possibly be a true story.
And yet, it is: Paulie Z (lead singer), David Z (bassist / guitarist), and Joey Cassata (drummer) really did perform as Z Rock at kids parties by day and kick out the jams as ZO2 – a proper rock band – by night.
That’s not to say that the adventures you’ll witness during the first season of “Z Rock” are 100% based on a true story, but at the same time, you can well imagine that there just might be an existing rivalry between kids-party entertainers, and it’s all but a given that many of the attendees of these parties come with a MILF in tow. You can also imagine that it would get pretty damned frustrating for a bunch of hard rockers to slowly but surely realize that, for as much as they believe in the high voltage tunes they’re cranking out every evening, they’re still getting more love for the songs they’re writing about the alphabet and good manners. That’d explain why the guys in ZO2 decided to make a sitcom out of their lives and, y’know, add some extra funny bits for good measure.
One of those bits is Dina (Lynn Koplitz), the boys’ (fictional) manager, who’s willing to do anything within her power to make them into stars. It’s an added bonus that Dina’s aunt happens to be Joan Rivers, who plays herself in the series and has a sense of humor about it, making fun of her regular appearances on QVC, allowing one of the characters to say upon being introduced to her, “You look better than I thought you would,” and enjoying a gag in one episode which implies that she’s had a dressing-room fling with David Lee Roth. Although Roth doesn’t actually appear, we do get a hilarious running subplot with John Popper and well-utilized guest spots from Sebastian Bach and Dee Snider – the latter helping Paulie Z write a song, which brings up a very key part of the show: the music. Both the kids songs and the proper rockers are a lot of fun, but the most memorable is Z Rock’s original birthday song, which allows them to serenade the birthday boy or girl at their function without making the producers of the show fork out the dough to use “Happy Birthday” every time.
If there’s a flaw to “Z Rock,” it’s that the boys in the band are exactly what they’re supposed to be: musicians. Which is to say that they’re not professional comedians. As a result, their timing isn’t always perfect, and that can sometimes damage the effectiveness of a scene, given that the series is partially improvised. Still, when the guys get into an argument about one of the members sleeping with a hot mom or there’s an issue with the band’s van breaking down, the intensity of their delivery goes a long way to making the conversations feel real. No doubt that’s because they were real at one point, which is why if you’ve ever been in a band or even just hung around with rockers for extended periods of time, you’ll watch “Z Rock” and laugh your ass off.
Special Features: Sadly, there aren’t any commentaries, but there’s still plenty of bonus material to be had, including several featurettes (“Behind the Mayhem,” “Brooklyn Meets Hollywood,” “Behind the Scenes,” a montage and music video, and “Advice from Joan Rivers.”