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Before we delve into the strange and kooky world of Brendan Leonard, let's review the facts, shall we?

Fact 1: Big corporations control the media.

Fact 2: ABC/Disney is one of said big corporations.

Fact 3: Big corporations tend to focus on the lowest common denominator. They try to appeal to as many as possible at once, avoid offending anyone, and generally show disdain for the fringe elements of society, whatever they may be.

Fact 4: ABC Family's "The Brendan Leonard Show" is the craziest, coolest, low budget, lowbrow, lo-fi television show on television today.

There is simply no theory to its success, or its inception in the first place.

Humble Beginnings

Brendan lives in a quaint Chicago suburb. He always took a liking to making and editing his own home movies, so much so that he applied for and got a cable access spot in town. He worked hard, interviewing up to 300 people a month and creating skits with his buddies. He frequently incorporated his family into his skits, and in general was a funny high school kid in Chicago. Ho hum.

Then, amazingly, an ABC Family employee caught his show one night and thought that their channel could use a show like this: imaginative, entertaining, and down-to-earth. More importantly, it could be made on a shoestring budget, which is always a big consideration in the helter skelter world of cable programming.

The Show

The show is simply a wonderment of independent spirit. From the opening credits (inventively shot in reverse on a playground set, with cast members "unthrowing" posterboards with their names on them) to the "Band Spotlight" - a different band provides the background music to the show each week, and Brendan shows his true love of indie rock, giving spots to The Promise Ring, Guided By Voices, The Magic Magicians, and Centro-matic, among others - each episode is filled with the zany ideas and antics of Leonard (a budding John Cusack lookalike) and his pals.

One particular episode begins with Brendan ranting about how doesn't like to dance ("How did that get started? Did some caveman accidentally step in the fire he just built? And the other cavemen were like, 'Yeah! Go Krunk! Go Krunk! It's your birthday!'?"). As his rant ends, he presents the concept of the next skit: what if life were like the musicals, where everyone spontaneously danced about any old thing? The shots of he and his buddies high kicking and strutting their stuff down his sleepy town's Main Street are priceless. He even dances during a visit to his orthodontist (told you he's just a regular doofus) and while he's going to sleep.

Other great skits include his two older sisters doing a play-by-play review of early home movies starring Brendan; his friends pretending to live their lives in reverse, including that unintelligible speech garbage of tapes played backwards (there's a great side joke where one of them interjects his garbled mess with "there's power in Satan", the alleged backwards masking lyric of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"); and of course, Brendan interviewing several celebrities, both Chicago locals and otherwise.

My Thoughts

The charm of the show lies entirely within Brendan and his friends. They aren't Hollywood celebrities or trained actors: they flub their lines, they've got stocky delivery sometimes, and they rarely seem to have worked on the skit more than once before it was filmed. Still, to their credit, they aren't Hollywood celebrities or trained actors: they are always very sincere and honest, they ad lib like professional comedians (or like good buddies do), and they never seem too worried about how the whole show's going to turn out. They simply hit record and have fun for thirty minutes.

Another great aspect to the show is the surprising depth and innovation that Brendan (and his executive producer parents) discover in low-budget filmmaking. When you see Brendan in the distance and then suddenly he appears in front of the camera just inches away (and you realize the distant Brendan is just a double), you appreciate a little bit more just how much Brendan and Co. are trying to genuinely entertain you. The sheer openness of the show is refreshing in the sea of pre-fabricated horse poop that is primetime television today.

If you haven't caught the show already, do so as soon as possible! It airs weekdays at 5:30 Eastern Standard Time on ABC Family. Simply a fabulous show. I hope it (and Brendan) succeed for a long, long time to come. You can visit the show's website at http://abcfamily.go.com/daytime/brendan/.

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