Here’s an excellent review by Levi Damien over at Examiner.com of the Special Effects Stage.
Although, the performances and jokes will require a lot of tweaking. There is a considerable amount of attempts at pop culture references that fall flat with the audience. The jokes in which one of the presenters incorporates a cel phone to supposedly access the internet all seem forced. They come off like something a teenager would view as their parents really trying desperately to be hip and thinking throwing out trendy terms will do it. And then there is the supposed stage hand character named “Jerry” who’s purpose is to provide the comic relief. Outside of a few physical comedy moments though, the bits with him don’t really fly either.
Exactly. Could not agree more. I’ve emphasized this enough, but they cannot rely on canned jokes for comedic relief. It just seems like they’re trying too hard, which never works. I get that they haven’t had much luck with comedic shows in the past (Creature of the Black Lagoon anyone…?), but they really had a gem with the last incarnation of the Special Effects Stage.
Like the author mentions, it was one of those shows that you really happened to stumble upon when you went down to the Lower Lot. It had a very intimate feel and relied more on host’s improvisational skills, rather than on scripted dialog. Heck, if they used a script, it sure as hell went past me. And that’s the point. Make it seem seamless and out of the blue and don’t make it feel forced.
Despite this, the Special Effects Stage in its current form has one very large advantage over its predecessor, and that is potential. Better venue, better exposure and arguably more audience members to work with. Universal just needs to tweak with what works and what doesn’t – even though they had that successful formula in the past.