Showrunner Mark Thimijan Completes “Wasted Nights” Web Series
Created by Mark Thimijan, Wasted Nights is a newly completed, ten-episode web series that revolves around a group of characters who all hang out in the same dive bar in Lincoln, Nebraska. They experience dreams, hopes, failures, romance, comedy, drama, surrealism, realism, drunkenness, philosophy, heartache, and achievement. Above all, it’s a stylized look at a diverse group of people with various reasons for frequenting the same bar.
Wasted Nights will remind many viewers of the long-running Cheers series (with a Midwestern twist), but it also is somewhat Seinfeld-like in its “meta” storyline. Led by proto-auteur Curtis (Stanley Sticka), a group of relatively unknown indie filmmakers (who are also regular customers) decides to make a movie in the bar. Their overall concept is parallel to Thimijan’s (see the prologue to Episode 1). Curtis bases the characters in his script for this film-within-a-film on other watering-hole regulars, whom he then recruits as cast members.
This filmmaking through-line will be more than entertaining for any indie producers, directors, and crew members who watch the series. The mix of artistic earnestness and name-dropping pomposity that marks Curtis and his crew is hilarious. But Wasted Nights does not just satirize them; it also makes positive points about the indie community.
There are several subplots as well. These include characters drawn from local color, including the lonely, middle-aged Rock (Scott R. Glen). Rock annoys the younger regulars by repeatedly asking them to come over to his place after “last call.” Then there’s Pit (Simon Lovell), a Brit who’s the bar’s resident dealer. He’s constantly dogged by Zach (Brandon Aylor), who will take any substance that Pit can get his hands on. And what college-town bar would be complete without hipsters? Dylan (Leaves Brown) and Jackson (Dillon Kirby) nicely fill that bill.
The most outlandish character is the Trekkie (Tracie Mauk), who dresses and behaves as if Star Trek is a documentary and not science fiction. The backbone of the bar is its employees: Mike (Mark Booker), Shannon (Julia Farrell), and Angela (Eli Ami). They give both comic relief and a sobering running commentary on the prospects for educated young people in the 21st Century.
Like any television sitcom series, Wasted Nights takes a couple of episodes to gain traction. This is normal. Establishing situation and characters is part of the process. Actors grow into their characters as relationships start to form. Viewers start to get attached to one or more characters. Then the main storyline and various subplots take off and get meaty, punctuated by music by John Freidel.
Nicely shot and professionally edited, Wasted Nights is available on YouTube, where it’s ripe for binge-watching over the long 4th of July weekend. Since the cliffhanger ending of Episode 10 leaves ample room for another season, you’ll want to follow the series on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with future developments.