Boris is an Italian comedic TV series produced by FOX. It's a Dilbertesque
satire of the Italian TV series production process revolving around an awful melodrama named Eyes of the Heart 2
(the sequel of another equally awful series which was cut off after only two episodes, but which the network execs believe was only penalized due to its time slot
) and the unlucky, disfunctional
troupe of the same — a neurotic director, self-serving and self-centered stars, an incompetent and coke-addicted photography director, a dishonest executive producer, slave interns and more. It parodies much that's wrong with the production process of the mainstream networks: politics, blatantly dishonest product placement, cut-and-paste cliché plots
, extreme Executive Meddling
and worse, but even when it's not actively making fun of something, the quirky cast manages to keep the funny coming.
Not entirely unlike 30 Rock
, but exquisitely Italian.
The show has had three seasons so far, having followed the production of the two seasons of Eyes of the Heart 2
and later of the blatant ripoff
of American MedicalDramas Medical Dimension
.There is also a movie
, concerning the same crew involved in the production of the In-Universe
movie Young Ratzinger
.Some of the characters involved with the production
- Alessandro, direction assistant intern and often the viewpoint character.
- René Ferretti, neurotic director who all-too-often has to fix up the mess to get to the end of the day.
- Arianna Dell'Arti: assistant director and Only Sane Man.
- Itala, the wino log secretary.
- Duccio Patanè, coke-addicted chief of photography, most often found on a couch not doing his work.
- Augusto "Slurs" Biascica, ignorant and violent set electrician.
- Stanis la Rochelle and Corinna Negri, protagonist actors of Eyes of the Heart, fickle and immature and too often the cause of the troubles of the day, later partially replaced by Cristina Avola Burkstaller and "Thighs" Karin in season two (of both the actual Boris series and the In-Universe one), and by Fabiana Hassler for season three's Medical Dimension.
- Diego Lopez, network delegate who has to relay the bad news from the higher-ups while keeping those higher-ups happy.
- Lorenzo, photography intern, local slave and perpetual Chew Toy.
- Sergio Vannucci, dishonest executive producer.
The series is named after director René's lucky charm goldfish — the last of a long line of such. It's, in what some may see as a fit of Irony
, produced by Rupert Murdoch's Fox Italia/Sky.The Italian side of The Other Wiki
has quite a bit more about it.
This show provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Claudio, the young, nice and enthusiast network delegate that keeps supporting Renè and his idea of quality for Medical Dimension. However, it was chosen by Cane to lure Renè into it and making him just do another The Eyes of the Heart. Or so it looks like, but in the end we find out it's subverted: Cane was playing both Claudio and Renè, since he plans to sabotage Medical Dimension. Claudio leaves as soon as he finds out.
- Ass Pull: A staple of the plots of the In-Universe shows.
- Ax-Crazy: Mariano Giusti, a (In-Universe) recurring guest star who has the villain role of The Count in Eyes of the Heart, is certifiably insane and destructively violent (a fact the troupe tries to defuse by leaving Alessandro to keep him calm — a thing he does under Mariano's threat of death by baseball bat mauling).
Mariano: "No, no, no! It seems to me like the only one between you and me who's trying not to get me to beat you up is me- the one that, eventually, will end up beating you up!
- It must also be noted that Mariano, between season one and two, have some kind of epiphany that makes him a nicer and softer person. The quote above takes place after that epiphany. We only see a glimpse of him before it, and it's him burning down the stage.
- Bad Bad Acting
- Big Bad: Dr. Cane might count as this. He doesn't want to stop the protagonists, but causes all the meddling that trobules them. Fits the trope in season three, when he's actively planning to make Renè's work a disaster, see Screwed by the Network below. However, he only does that to please the
- Bigger Bad: The audience.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Eyes of the Heart 2 was supposed to have one. The scene is cut before is filmed and we never know much about it, but could you really immagine how could Stanis having a dreams of him singing on a tractor could have ever made sense?
- In season three, The Eyes of the Heart 3 actually has a musical number in it.
- Casting Gag: Stanis is known for playing Corelli in The Eyes of the Heart. His actor, Pietro Sermonti, is known for playing a doctor in another italian series, A Doctor in the Family.
- Catch Phrase: Stanis's "very italian", his way to complain about anything he doesn't like, and "not italian" (for a short while, in season two, "anglosaxon") is how he says something is good. It gives us the hylarious line
Stanis: I don't know, I think that Shakespeare... Is a bit too much italian...
- Chekhov's Gun: And gunman, used constantly in The Eyes of the Heart 2. The truth is that the scriptwriters prefer looking at the previous episodes to find something they can use instead of actual writing. These don't stop them (to praise themselves) and the director (to avoid further questions) to pass them as this trope.
- Cliché Storm: Everything ever written by the In-Universe series scriptwriters, who even have text macros for certain actor expressions (especially "astonished", tied to F4 on their word processor's keyboard and used liberally).
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Machiavelli, a fiction directors are assigned to when producers just want them out. Subverted, however, since Renè gets quite fond of the idea and leaves The Eyes of the Heart 2 of his own will to do Machiavelli.
- Darkest Hour: 3x12, "Into the Network", Renè is utterly destroyed and can't do anything anymore, not even keep the actors, and by the end of the episode he leaves the set himself.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The three scriptwriters.
- Evil Twin: In The Eyes of the Heart Corelli has one.
- Executive Meddling: abundant and expected In-Universe. Entire storylines are forced upon the shows, removed, fixed "after the fact" (in one notable case by forcing the troupe to reshoot a controversial episode ending one year after the fact, with all of them scrambling to get all the details right for the airs-next-week deadline).
- Faux Affably Evil: Dr. Cane, once he finally appears. He acts cheerfully with Renè, but he's just kicking the dog.
- Foil: Dimension Six, a show created to rival Medical Dimension. We find out, however, that they were never supposed to air together, they made both as quality fiction to show one at random and make it fail, to cancel the other.
- Foreshadowing: Season two (and three) shows the characters in an aquarium, with Lorenzo unwillingly breaking the glass in the end. In season three Lorenzo unwillingly breaks Renè's aquarium.
- Which is in itself another brilliant foreshadowing: Federer (the goldfish Renè bought for the new series) is lost and replaced with another random one as Medical Dimension, we will find out, loses is purpose and becomes just a series like any other. That the replacement turns out to be Boris, the fish bought for The Eyes of the Heart, only makes it more brilliant, since Renè will end actually turning it in The Eyes of the Heart 3.
- A quite lighter one: in season three a repented scriptwriter advises, to do a good job, to never make more than three season. It hinted that it would the series' last season (may count as Leaning on the Fourth Wall).
- The opening says "I'll use the eyes of the heart/ As the blind doctor says/ when he operates on patients" [[spoilers:The Eyes of the Heart 3 has the main character becoming blind but resolving to operate nonetheless. Cue Title Drop.]]
- Gilligan Cut: Whenever René, Stanis or someone else is praising the scriptwriters' work (it must be noted that, in the first case, said praises are Blatant Lies), we immediately get to see how they actually work. See Real Life Writes the Plot for an example.
- Heel-Face Turn: Renè, after finding out the truth about Medical Dimension and losing the last bit of faith in television he had, decides to purposefully go back to The Eyes of the Heart.
Renè: We are fucking done with quality! We want shit!
- Hilarity Ensues: Constantly.
- Hope Spot: Curiously, when it looks like Renè will lose the job. Not being tied to The Eyes of the Heart 2 makes him consider doing some quality work again, but in the end the show is succesful, so he keeps the job and the money. He eventually leaves for Machiavelli, but season three shows it's just another one of those. The season itself turns in yet another one with Medical Dimension.
- The whole season three is one for Renè.
- Hypocritical Humor: The scriptwriters claiming they really need an holiday. While sunbathing. Or fishing. Or doing anything but working.
- Kick the Dog: When Renè meets at last Dr. Cane, after being told the Evil Plan. He cheerfully tells Renè that, since Dimension Six failed like Medical Dimension was supposed to, Renè's series will never be aired at all. He ends it with a gift, a little box containing "the future". The box is empty.
- Large Ham: Renè. Pannofino is good at doing that sort of characters.
- Money, Dear Boy:
- Orlando Serpentieri, a renowned actor, joins the cast. When Alessandro asks him why, after playing Shakespear, would he do that, he answers honestly that between Shakespeare and The Eyes of the Heart 2 there's something called "loan".
- Renè himself: he started The Eyes of the Heart believing it would be something good, but then kept working on it only because he was payed to. However, he keeps feeling guilty about it and dreaming of doing something good again, and eventually moves out of it at the end of season two.
- Duccio was like Renè, except he's perfectly okay with it and doesn't move out.
- Unusually, averted by Lopez, who seems to sincerely like The Eyes of the Heart 2
- Naked People Are Funny: In the season one episode "Like Lars von Trier", everyone is forced to work naked on-set to assuage Corinna's insecurities during the shooting of a sex scene.
- Nepotism: Averted, then played straight. René refuses to let Fabiana be the star of Medical Dimension as she's secretly his daughter and he doesn't want to be accused of this, but he later has to ask them to take the role as the network's designated replacement proves to be utterly incompetent.
- Meaningful Name: Biascica's last name literally means 'slurs' (as in 'to slur', the speech impediment) — a thing he does liberally.
- Ms. Fanservice: The entire role of "Thighs" Karin, due to In-Universe Executive Meddling.
- No Politicians Were Harmed: In season one and two they talk about how politics and elections influence the series, but no actual politicians is ever mentioned (a throwaway comment about lega nord is the closest we get). Season three averts it with Berlusconi.
- No Ending: In the end we don't know if Arianna and Alessandro stayed in touch, or if he followed the scriptwriters' trail or started working on something better, we don't know where all the main characters went, except Duccio and Renè. The last shot has him pondering about answering a phone call (Lopez calling him to work on The Eyes of the Heart 3, but he doesn't know it), but it ends before showing us if he does.
- The Prima Donna: all actors in all of the In-Universe series.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: In-Universe with "Medical Dimension". One of the screeptwriters hears random sentences from the other two talking about anything (except, of course, "Medical Dimension") and writes them verbatim. The plot is litterally whatever was happening in their life at that point.
- Recurring Gag: The eral's ring is a main plot point in The Eyes of the Heart 2. Despite no one knowing exactly why.
- Replacement Goldfish: Literally: Boris is the last one of a long line of lucky charm goldfishes René insists on bringing on set. Additionally, the last episode of season one involves Boris's apparent death (after being fed a piece of lard) and the frantic search for a replacement so that René won't notice the death. Boris gets better in the end, though.
- Screwed by the Network: Invoked by Lopez as the reason The Eyes of the Heart was so poorly received and cancelled. It might or might not be true: it was that bad, however the sequel is just as bad and it's however quite succesfull.
- It's also Dr. Cane's Evil Plan in season three: he leaves Renè free to work on a fiction following actual criteria of quality (or the nearest thing he can get), but Medical Dimension is planned to air the same night the champions' league's on, so no one will watch it and it'll prove that "a new television isn't only possible, but not even desirable".
- Self-Deprecation: The Eyes of the Heart 2 (supposedly the first one too) and Medical Dimention have three male screeptwriters, just like Boris. They do not come out in a good light, let's put it this way.
- Shout-Out: Numerous (all of these from The Other Wiki's page).
- My Africa (part 1) includes a parody of LOST's iconic eye-opening season 1 shoot.
- Again in My Africa (part 1), Corinna's arrival on the set has numerous elements that recall Kate Winslet's arrival on the titular ship of Titanic.
- The beating of Lorenzo in The Daughter of Mazinga is a recreation of "Gomer Pyle"'s beating in Full Metal Jacket.
- In Caught by the network, the network exec gives Lopez an empty blue box, recreating the same scene and subsequent fadeout from Mulholland Dr..
- In The Deaf-mute, the Senator and the Future of Our Country, the ghosts of René's mentors appear in much the same way as the Force ghosts do in Return of the Jedi.
- Split-screen cuts in the episode Use the Force, Ferretti are an homage to 24. Also obviously the name of he episode
- On that note, a ton of episode titles are obvious or less-than-obvious citations from movies, such as The Sky over Stanis (a pun on the original title of Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire", 'the sky over Berlin'); No Logo; Use the Force, Ferretti; The Importance of Being Well-Liked by Lawyers; Back To The Future; Stanis Must Not Die.
- Also, in the last episode, characters tell Lorenzo "wax on, wax off" to remember his role as a slave (a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty!, since the phrase used, "metti la cera, togli la cera", is not the actual translation in the movies, "dai la cera, togli la cera").
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Season three, in the last episodes, becomes a steep one for Renè.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Played with: Stanis actually is the biggest name in the cast, but that still makes him not even nearly as important as he thinks he is.
- Stock Scream: Used to shot a suicide scene.
- Take That, Audience!: The producers need to cut everything even slightly ethically complex or ambiguos, also the whole fact that they don't want anything new just, at the very best, something that looks new but is the same story all over again.
- The Bus Came Back: Karim does not appear in season three, until she is brought back for The Eyes of Heart 3.
- Title Drop: "Use the Force, Ferretti" in season two, every episode in season three.
- In-universe [[spoilers: in The Eyes of the Heart 3, Corelli is blind but says he will keep doing his job using "the eyes of the heart... 3". Renè thinks Stanis adding the number is overdoing it, but they haven't time for another one.]]
- Ultimate Job Security: Almost everyone has it, as literally everyone on the set is protected by (and is there because of) some politician or other person-in-power. This becomes later a plot point as Lopez and Sergio force René to pick someone to fire to cut costs, and he has to pick the one with the "least" protection.
- Wham Episode: 3X11, "Stopper", when we find out Medical Dimension is just Dr. Cane's Evil Plan.
- Wham Shot: Claudio telling Renè he's leaving and that "Medical Dimension is a trap."
- Also, 3x13 ("Back to the Future- Part 1"), we already saw Renè asking the screenwriters for "their usual shit", but we only get the true extent of his Heel-Face Turn when he tells what they are about to shot: The Eyes of the Heart 3.