When we last left our heroes… well, there weren’t really any heroes, just a couple of college students who had two episodes of a show, barely half an hour each, in hand, and a cable access channel ready to show whatever we threw at them (within the bounds of decency, which admittedly JCC wasn’t likely to cross).
This is the even stranger story of how Jump Cut City went from being an inside joke to something that other people were watching, and would therefore have to understand (within reason, which admittedly was not an area where JCC tended to dwell).
The gear shift from “private inside joke that just happens to live on videotape” to “show that other people have to be able to get into” was a hell of a bump. We needed to come up with an origin story that tracked with the two “Stellacide” episodes already shot. We quickly arrived at a story that would demonstrate that maybe the heroes of the show, if one could even call them that, weren’t the best the JCC equivalent of Starfleet had to offer. Burchuss was probably the most competent of the bunch. Due to the intermittent schedule of Rob making it home from school, this new pilot episode took two months to shoot. By the time Jump Cut City hit screens across Fayetteville with a resounding “splat” – in a weekend evening time slot – there was already another Star Trek spinoff to contend with.
The show was reasonably well received, as ridiculous as it was. The three episodes ran on a weekly schedule, and then… oops.
Spring’s not a good time to try to make a little TV show if you’re in college. There are finals that can threaten to be very final if you don’t give them the amount of attention required. In my case, I had suddenly gone from working part-time to working full-time. I was also having to deal with the whispers of the family house being sold; I had no idea where I was going to live. Considering the chaos that I was living with at home, I damn well should’ve had an exit strategy. We wrote an oddly dramatic (and yet still funny) episode, based on an abandoned script that Rob had been hoping to pitch to Star Trek: The Next Generation (back when the Trek series had an open door submission policy), which stuck to TNG’s frequent budget-saving practice of “everything happens on the ship” and still managed to be interesting. We actually lit stuff this time (though clumsily in some cases). By the time “Future Tense” premiered, the three preceding episodes had been looping for weeks.
Plans were afoot for more episodes, with the next one, “The Undiscovered Pastry” (I can’t even recall why it was called that), partly shot when the other shoe dropped: I had to find an apartment, the house had gone on the market and found a buyer almost instantly. A hasty rewrite explained the new environs of my apartment, and we shot a few scenes there… and that remains the last thing that’s happened in Jump Cut City since.
Once every few years, e-mails fly back and forth about “You know what would be neat to do with Jump Cut City?” (My craziest idea along those lines: rework it and actually pitch it to a studio, hoping to land Bruce Campbell and John Goodman as the stars. I think you can work out who’s meant to be who.) Every possible permutation has been explored – audio, comics, runs for office…
…but nothing advances past the wild idea stage, because as often happens with so many awesome things about childhood, somewhere a switch is flipped and a voice starts saying “You can’t do that.” Conventional wisdom even says we couldn’t dare put JCC on the web. Too many purloined spaceship shots, too much borrowed music. You can’t do that.
Pffffft. Yes we can. So here you go: very bad, low-res rips of the four cable episodes. Two (and a half) soundtracks. And a bunch of other stuff.
More might be added later as time permits. Why not? Because this has become the age of the mashup and the age of the fan film. People now do this stuff all the time (and really, they always did). It’s harmless. It was never done to rip off Hollywood. It was done because we wanted in on some of that action of creating stuff.
In my living room in Arkansas.
Oh, to be that free again.