First off: Sorry for all the TV-related radio silence. I spent the last month catching up on new fall shows, and most of my recaps were embargoed. But I’m back, and I’ve got early word on one of the most anticipated new programs of the year: Game of Chans, the famously troubled space-drama-turned-sitcom-turned antiquities-appraisal-show-turned-reality-series from big-screen action producer Brent Bondi (Death of a Bullet, Shiv School).
Originally Game of Chance, the story of two moon-stranded lottery winners, the show went over budget before filming could begin. It was subsequently scaled down and reworked as Game of Chants, a comedy about a pair of bickering mantra sommeliers. But when test audiences deemed Chants too ohm-hum, Bondi re-edited the footage into Gayme of Chance, which followed a caravan of bi-curious art dealers as they traversed the 18th-century West, looking for second-hand bargains. Mid-way through production, though, Bondi then died of a cocaine-deprivation coronary, forcing producers to pour $5 million of last-ditch CGI into what would become Game of Chans, about two siblings, Sen and Jen Chan, who silently play boardgames in an office-park atrium. It would be hard to review the pilot–which runs at a brisk four minutes long–without giving away some big spoilers. But Chansis taut and tightly plotted, and the opening two-minute credit sequence is a surreal hoot. Sen and Jan may not make it to the moon, Chans is nonetheless shooting for the stars.