Behind the Radicals (Johnsonverse)

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Behind the Radicals title card.png
Genre: Mockumentary
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Production Companies: Johnson Studios
Timothy Hill Productions
Distributed by: Johnson Television
Directed by: Timothy Hill
Written by: Timothy Hill
Tim Johnson
Produced by: Timothy Hill
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Starring: Jason Carmichael
Ashley Wallace
Casey Locklain
Brooke Pierce
Lane Pierce
Clancy Brown
Country: United States


Behind the Radicals is a 2012 American mockumentary directed by Timothy Hill from a teleplay by Hill and Tim Johnson that aired on MTV. In a parody of VH1's Behind the Music, it focuses on the fictional behind-the-scenes of the Radicals, a rock band used as the mascots of WBC (then known as JTV) from 1982 to 1991, with fictitious interviews given by the band's members. It stars Jason Carmichael, Ashley Wallace, Casey Locklain, Brooke and Lane Pierce, and Clancy Brown, and is narrated by Jim Forbes.

The film was announced in 2010. Shot between July and December 2011, the special premiered on September 1, 2012 to critical acclaim for its approach to the Radicals, who were widely panned for being annoying during their tenure as JTV mascots. It won an Emmy award for

Plot

In 1982, 18-year-old Dennis "Den" Isadore (Jason Carmichael) is a struggling singer. He gets booed at every club he performs at. One day, Den comes across his high school sweetheart Rebecca "Becky" Jo Robbins (Ashley Wallace). Together, they decide to form the duo act Becky and Denny. However, on their first performance (at a seedy hotel on the Las Vegas Strip best known for nude showgirl revues, and even then, they have to perform out on the parking lot across the street after they couldn't reserve a spot on time and end up having a shouting match with its manager), Dan accidentally flubs and says a racist slur (the "N" word) instead of the correct lyric, saying "Uh-oh" after he sings the line. This results in them getting booed off the stage and the end of their act, with the few people who attended leaving.

It looks like Den and Becky Jo's music careers have ended, until Johnson Industries CEO Phil Stacker (Clancy Brown) notices them. Wanting to "reinvent" WBC for younger audiences, he decides to give them a call. Surprised at this, Dan and Becky Jo decide to take Stacker up on their offer. The next morning, they go to Johnson Industries' headquarters at San Jose, California. There, they meet up with Stacker, who introduces them to Jeffrey "Jeff" Allen (Casey Locklain), who plays the drums, and Elizabeth "Betty" and Benjamin "Ben" Leonard (Brooke and Lane Pierce), the backup singers. He decides that the band should have a name that appeals to kids of the time. Becky Jo comes up with the name "The Radicals", which Stacker immediately agrees on.

For the 1982-1983 television season, the Radicals make their television debut in the "We're Cool" bumper, in which they perform a song of the same name. Despite people tuning out, Stacker lies and tells them that they're not the cause of the newly-renamed JTV's lowest ratings in the network's history. Feeling famous, they decide to start up a new brand of clothes with Johnson's permission, which fails to sell one article of clothing. They decide to write a book called "How to Be, Like, Totally Radical", which again fails to sell one copy. With their dignity, they decide to start up a charity fund by claiming that they're using the money to donate to AIDS research. This time, it becomes a success, but what the people don't realize is that this is a front for the struggling Radicals to make money for themselves.

With the success of their "Radical Extremely Foundation", the Radicals, still working with JTV, decide to organize their first-ever concert. They sell a great number of tickets thanks to deceptive advertising, funded entirely by Stacker, and though many of the crowds walk out immediately upon hearing the Radicals' first performance, it becomes an overall success due to the fact that for the first time, there are people who stayed throughout the show, only because the night also happens to be "Two-Dollar Chicken Night", despite Den lip-syncing throughout, something that is obvious to even the remaining crowds. By 1987, the Radicals' involvement has become limited after Stacker decides to start improving the network, though he still allows them to do concerts. However, right after a midnight concert on October 10, 1991, the Radicals hear that Stacker has been arrested and that the Johnsons are about to regain control of Johnson Industries, with Sheldon Johnson, Jr. as the new CEO. JTV, in the process of rebranding back to WBC, notifies the Radicals that they have been fired for being terrible.

After their firing, the Radicals try and fail several times to reinvent themselves with jazz, heavy metal, and punk rock, among others, eventually breaking up after a botched performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at an event aboard the RMS Olympic in 1996, in which they sing it in the form of horrorcore, sing it in the wrong key, and mess up about half of the lyrics, even forgetting them towards the end, that gets the entire crowd booing at them, even several of the Olympic's crew. The band members are remembered solely for their involvement with the Stacker era, so they decide to move to New York, take on assumed names, and live the rest of their lives in a life of crime; they eventually follow through on a suicide pact on October 3, 2011, the fifteenth anniversary of their botched performance, and are found dead of gunshot wounds to the head in Den's home the next day.

At their funeral, only one person is present: a drunken hobo who thinks that it is the funeral of his son, and he walks away upon finding out that it isn't the case.

Cast

  • Jason Carmichael as Den
  • Ashley Wallace as Becky Jo
  • Brooke Pierce as Betty
  • Lane Pierce as Ben
  • Casey Locklain as Jeff
  • Clancy Brown as Phil Stacker
  • James Marsden as Sheldon Johnson, Jr.
  • Paul McCartney as himself

Production

Development

Casting

Release

Reception