Demo Reel is an original web series for That Guy with the Glasses. Starring Doug Walker, it was Walker's next big series, succeeding The Nostalgia Critic. It is notable for being filmed in a proper Chicago studio, rather than Walker's basement as the Nostalgia Critic was.The story revolves around Donnie DuPre (played by Walker), the founder of an independent film studio called "Demo Reel", who remakes famous films bad on purpose for reasons later disclosed. He is joined by Rebecca Stoné (pronounced "stone"; the accent is silent), an actress who's been burned by how Hollywood treats women; Tacoma Narrows, an up-and-coming writer who thought Donnie would get him some fame; and cameraman Karl Copenhagen and make-up artist "Quinn", East German and Irish nationals respectively.It premiered on October 30th, 2012. Watch the two-part first episode here and here. The series was completed on January 22nd, 2013. Though The Cinema Snob made an episode of his own for April Fools' Day 2014.
Accentuate the Negative: Slammed hard in "Blue Patches", as Donnie yells at the family and in extension, reviewers and nerd culture, for only thinking about how they can best mock everything they don't like and not about the emotions or people behind them.
Taken to an absurd extent in the "Wreck-It Ralph" episode, thanks to Tacoma being sick with vampire bird flu and Rebecca running around on a sugar/amphetamine high, leaving Donnie to have to fill all the parts
In the Skyfall parody, Donnie plays James Bond and a random mook via green screen in the same shot.
Rob Paulsen is depicted as so sick of doing "Yakko's World" that he uses cheap tricks to escape crazed fans requesting he sing it. Though, given how Donnie is, it could just be a facade. Paulsen in reality is worried for the day people stop asking him to sing it.
Doug, Lewis, and Lindsay in The Review Must Go On: Doug's slightly crazy and self conscious about his decisions, Lewis is crazy and believes that Pollo and others are real, and Lindsay is willing to send Nella out to kill Doug, just so she can keep the Nostalgia domain.
Adult Child: The patriarch of the family that took Donnie captive in "Blue Patches". Not only has he passed on his childish obsession with Donnie to his wife and daughter, but he wears sock monkey-themed pajamas and sleeps with his wife in a bed that uses Sponge Bob Square Pants pillowcases.
Adult Fear: Donnie's backstory of his mom committing suicide and leaving him alone in the world to get abused for thirty+ years.
Rebecca's too. Her parents went out on trips all the time, and out of ignorance or malice, left her with her sexually abusive uncle. And when she shows understandable damage, they call her a freak.
Liz. A girl who can't be older than in her teens warped by her mentally ill parents and has no qualms about leading a depressed adult to her house, keeping him prisoner and invading his personal space.
Arc Number: 42. Rebecca has had 42 jobs and Donnie claims to be 42 years old.
Aerith and Bob: Tacoma is pretty unusual for a series that names the rest of its cast things like Donnie/ Jimmy, Rebecca and Karl.
Ambiguous Situation: It's left unclear if Donnie is lying about the pre-nup/family deal because he doesn't want to talk about his mom, or if it's true and his life is even more of a Deus Angst Machina.
An Aesop: “The past can often be awful, but don't let it consume you.” There's also "Hollywood is full of corruption, especially to minorities" and "obsessing over bad media with no thought given to other's feelings is bad".
Aside Glance: Donnie looks faintly guilty at the "Writer-Cinematographer-Director-Actress-Caterers" picture where he's wearing lipstick.
Author Appeal: With Doug's taste for dominant women, it's no surprise that Rebecca gets to handle a lot of huge guns.
There's something to be said for a show where even the priss-hating war criminals hold hands when one is sick.
Author Tract: Doug made the show like an intersectional feminist's wet dream, attacking most aspects of racism, sexism and homophobia in both nerd culture and Horrible Hollywood (plus Accentuate the Negative), and reveling in sex-positivity for pretty much everyone.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Donnie, Rebecca, Tacoma, Quinn and Karl have one thing in common: they're all conventionally pleasing to the eye. Collins and the family, on the other hand, are made to look as unappealing as possible.
Be Careful What You Wish For: When Collins wanted Demo Reel destroyed and Donnie to have a miserable ending, The Review Must Go On probably wasn't what he had in mind.
Behind the Black: When Donnie chases Rob Paulsen to get him to sing "Yakko's World" for him, Rob "hides" in the middle of open hallways by standing where the camera won't see him, even standing right in front of Donnie while Donnie has the camera pointed at himself.
Bilingual Bonus: "Stunad", according to Rachel, means the "bimbo who takes the heat if the [mob] organization is found out". In addition, Carl will often slip back into speaking untranslated German.
Blatant Lies: Originally, Tacoma saying he respects Donnie as an artist. He doesn't at that point. By the beginning of "Lost In Translation", he admits Donnie's idea of remaking the film at an anime con is brilliant.
Hinted at through his Stepford Smiler tone, Donnie's opening spiel about doing Demo Reel so he can get fame and fortune in Hollywood. Everyone finds out later that he wants to get back at the industry, not be a part of it.
Breaking the Fellowship: Donnie leaves Tacoma and Rebecca at the beginning of episode three. This doesn't turn out well for him at all, and it doesn't take any of them long to miss each other.
Brick Joke: In the first part of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising" Tacoma complains about their goals by saying "most people need a flow chart to understand the plot of one Nolan movie.". After the Shocking Swerve filled climax, Tacoma (as two-face) presents a flow chart of all the plot twists in the TDKBR as Batman, Catwoman, and Bane watch in confusion.
During the Blair Witch Hangover Karl leaves an answering machine message threatening Quinn if he finds out he has been drinking without him. At the very end of Blue Patches Karl finds out that the studio’s “bottomless supply of Irish Whisky” has run dry:
Karl: *Beat* QUINN!!
Broken Aesop: After the result of The Review Must Go On, Blue Patches's message of "you can't let your past consume you and you need to be excited for the future" is more than a touch awkward.
It also breaks the whole "Critic is evolved enough to make his own choices" message of To Boldly Flee. His decision to make his life better and change was explained and completely his own, and turning it into a paradox that he didn't understand makes him ironically bend to the whims of the real writer.
Broke The Rating Scale: The movie Jingle Sell was garnering a 0.2/10 rating on IMDB which is impossible as the lowest score anyone can give is 1/10.
Buffy Speak: They take perfect films and make them even more perfectier.
Donnie just does this a lot. Played for ditzy laughs in “The Dark Knight Begins Rising”, but gets a bit sadder when he's trying to connect again with his wife. He's well aware that it makes him sound stupid.
Cerebus Retcon: Rebecca's choices of one-woman-shows are expanded into something more serious. Hamlet because she figured nobody would remember the women who played the role, and Titanic because she'd suffered so much sexual shit that she needed to get some control back.
In the pilot, Carl always saying "before ze wall fell" was played for laughs. In Transformers, he tells Tacoma that the falling wasn't a good thing, because his family was either lost or killed in the crossfire.
Cerebus Syndrome: Possibly the fastest case of this in history; the episodes following the light-hearted first one are a lot darker and more emotional. Made deliberately it seems, from Doug skipping a week of updates to revise and refilm Episode 2.
Even the original second episode dived into angst, horror and social justice issues, with Karl revealing he had a family before the wall fell, a pig getting loudly slaughtered in front of Tacoma and Donnie, and Rebecca fighting against being put in a objectifying role.
Lampshaded by Quinn who, after watching a depressing conversation between Tacoma and Rebecca, tells them he's going to watch Angela's Ashes so he can remember how to laugh again.
Things get even darker in The Review Must Go On, where Demo Reel and its entire cast are revealed to be part of a kind of purgatory conjured up to torture the Nostalgia Critic.
Chained to a Bed: Medical variant. The family in "Blue Patches" keep Donnie helpless and lying down by feeding him muscle relaxants.
Christmas Episode: "The Blair Witch Hangover" was released Christmas Eve, and involves Hollywood sexism, scary woods, a painful cliffhanger and Donnie really badly missing his mother. Fun for everyone!
Complexity Addiction: Because Collins would rather go for the emotional pain, he didn't just kidnap Donnie, hold a gun to his head and force Rebecca and Tacoma to give up Demo Reel in exchange for getting him back.
Contrived Coincidence: Sure is lucky that Doug got “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green” instead of “The Odd Couple” during his Demo Reel writer's block, and that the guy on the other end was a douche.
Doug also has to be alone and vulnerable in order for Critic to get at him, so off Rob goes to New York City and the only time he gets in contact with Doug, Doug is unconscious from the pills that he took.
Corpsing: You can see Rachel starting to crack up after her "peaches are fuzzy" line in episode two.
You can also see her strain really hard not to laugh behind her hands at Donnie's Thanksgiving prayer.
Malcolm's struggling not to giggle when she calls him a "tasty black man".
Cruel Twist Ending: What else can you say about an epilogue that answers "You tell them Donnie DuPre is coming. You tell them Jimmy Boyd is coming!" with "sorry, you're neither of those people, bye now"?
Critical Research Failure:invoked In-universe, The Dark Knight Rises is mocked for Bruce leaving the other prisoners to rot after escaping the pit. He actually throws a rope down to the other prisoners right after. The Skyfall parody mocks that Bond did not simply kill Silva and his two guards when he was ordered to shoot the glass of scotch off of Severine's head. However, the reason Bond didn't do this in the film itself is because he was given a Flintlock Pistol, which has only one shot per round, plus the henchmen held a gun to Bond's head to ensure he only aims for the whiskey. However, mistakes and flubs like these can be attributed to Donnie's terrible directing.
Dark Reprise: Of all things, the Pokemon theme song. The first time is with Uncle Yo, where Donnie's just euphoric at these people giving him love. But the second time is with Egoraptor after Yo is mad at him, and he just looks like he wants to hide in a corner.
Dark and Troubled Past: Cameraman Karl Copenhagen, a secretive East German who Donnie says used to work for somebody named "Stasi". Also Karl's assisstant cameraman Quinn who, as he puts it, "didn't work for the IRA". It's best to take his word for it.
Deceased Parents Are the Best: Tacoma's family would rather indulge criminal activities than be good people, Rebecca's parents are gaslighting hypocrites who let her get sexually abused, the crazy parents have raised their daughter to be just like them, and Donnie's dad left the family. The only sweet parent is the one who committed suicide.
Deconstruction: Rob with a dinosaur head and interacting with Critic? Unusually Uninteresting Sight and hilarious. Carl with a dinosaur head, with threatening music, and Donnie reacting like he doesn't know whether to puke or cry? Really quite terrifying.
Did They or Didn't They?: They pushed Donnie having sex with both Uncle Yo and Egoraptor as hard as they possibly could, but didn't outright state either.
Rebecca and Tacoma in their drinking-fest. We find out in the next episode that they ended up scruffy and in a dress respectively in the end by choice, the Ship Tease had hit record levels by this point, she wakes up on his legs, and she did pick up a whip with interest...
Deus Angst Machina: Donnie's entire life: his dad left when he was little, his mom killed herself while he was filming a movie and so he gave his worst performance ever, he got so abused by strangers because of it that he disappeared from Hollywood and changed his name, he got married to a woman that doesn't love him, he was excluded from his remaining family, he tried remaking movies to get back at the system but they always failed, held out hope that things would get better only to be told (as gently as possible by Tacoma and Rebecca, and bluntly by Quinn and Karl) that he would always suck, sunk into depression at a con, got over that but got kidnapped at gunpoint, was left in the woods to starve or get killed, was held captive by a yandere family who loved seeing him in pain, got out of that with restored confidence but soon his friends started disappearing one by one and making him think he needed to be committed, finds out that all of that was a waste of time because he's just someone else who needed punishment in purgatory, loses all his friends once again for "the greater good", and turns back into being the Critic.
Deliberately Monochrome: The behind the scenes footage. Only seems to apply in the studio though; all other locations are in color.
Description Cut: Played for Drama in “The Blair Witch Hangover”, with Donnie wanting his friends to give the eulogy at his funeral as “no doubt [they] were the only people concerned when [he] was missing”. Cut the two having drunken fun.
Did You Just Have Sex?: As soon as Rebecca says she will never wear the burned swim-cap, it cuts to her singing with it on. But she's happy about it and her skin looks pretty glowy, so Donnie must have "convinced" her somehow.
Disproportionate Retribution: Having your corporation be threatened isn't really an excuse for kidnapping someone and leaving them to either get killed or die slowly from starvation.
Double Entendre: Donnie feeling Tacoma up and complimenting his "sensitive ways" in Transformers, and, in Lost In Translation, Quinn and Karl accusing the bisexual guy of both sucking and blowing.
Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Pointedly averted. Donnie/Egoraptor can't be classed as rape, but the whole consent thing was definitely a gray area, and it's treated like one. When Donnie finds out that he was the only one drinking in their time together, he acts like a complete Ice Queen while the other man is blissfully unaware of what happened.
Adam (and his wife and daughter) are treated like non-comedic horrible people for taking any excuse to touch Donnie when he doesn't have the muscle strength to fight back.
Dramedy: Settles into the genre at about episode three.
Drowning My Sorrows: A common pastime. Donnie has wine glasses and brandy snifters all over his office, it's Quinn's solution for everything, Karl gets even more threatening when he's denied his booze while having to look for a certain kidnapped director, Rebecca turns out to be a Lady Drunk, and while Tacoma initially disapproves of alcohol to numb the pain, he quickly joins in with the drinking.
Dull Surprise: Doug as the Plot Hole in “The Review Must Go On” might have been going for wise, but just comes off bored. What's amusing is that he's acting against himself, and Doug-as-Donnie is acting his fine ass off.
Dying Alone: Whether the final part of Donnie dies in the Critic room or in the Plot Hole, he has nobody left at either point. It would have been kinder if he just died in the forest like he was planning on doing.
DysfunctionalTrue Companions: Episode 2 set the team up as this. They're all outcasts in their individual families and managed to form a tight knit with one another.
Eagleland: Type two application of type one. To get people watching his stuff and pander to the lowest common denominator, Donnie puts American flags everywhere in the spoofs.
Early-Installment Weirdness: While there's hints that he's putting on a brave-if-sociopathic face, it's a little difficult to meld Donnie's episode one speech about sucking up his wife's money "for women's lib" to the phone call in episode three where his desperate attempts at improving his marriage fail miserably.
Erotic Eating: Donnie and pocky make a lovely couple, with him chewing, nibbling, licking and twiddling it around his fingers while he flirts with Yo and asks for Slash Fic.
Establishing Series Moment: Rebecca and Tacoma talking about the ethics of white-face sets up that the show's going to be big on social issues.
For better or worse, Donnie successfully manipulating Tacoma with bedroom puppy eyes signified Doug had finally got his wish for a series with a lot more gay note that was treated as normal and not a fetishizing joke in it.
Everyone Is Bi: Apart from Rebecca (as there was no other girl she could hang out with), everyone had at least one moment full of Homoerotic Subtext. Some more than others, Donnie.
Everyone Has Standards: The rest of S.W.A.G. is horrified to find out what the head of the organization did to Donnie (kidnapped at gunpoint and dumped in the woods to die).
Donnie promised that the audience wouldn't see what Alfred sees in the end of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising".
Face Framed in Shadow: Used to creepy effect on both Critic and Doug in “The Review Must Go On”. Donnie on the other hand is always completely in the light.
False Reassurance: Quinn tells a very scared, very tearful about-to-die Donnie that he'll know where to find them, implying that any of the characters will be around in some capacity. Turns out he was lying; Rachel, Malcolm and Rob have all confirmed everyone is dead.
Except for Karl (who has fanservice of his own), tight t-shirts that show off the arms are a big thing with the male cast.
Donnie and Tacoma in Fair Cop uniforms in The Dark Knight Begins Rising.
Rebecca isn't completely left out, as she does a few complimenting gymnastics in episodes one and four.
She also gets wrapped up in Screw Yourself offscreen at one point, ignoring the presence of Carl.
Female Gaze: Used by Carl's camera on Donnie to make a Male Gaze point. When Donnie and Tacoma complain about the close-up on Donnie's face in the Mission: Impossible sketch, Carl backs up but later has close-ups on his crotch, ass and arms when he's never in any state to be objectified.
Donnie outright wanting Slash Fic of him seemed like a very obvious way of increasing the already large female audience.
With Donnie's open bisexuality, Tacoma and Quinn in tight muscle shirts; the former also in a dress, Karl's accent, Rebecca being a relatable badass, plus all the angst, Ship Tease and sexism-in-Hollywood commentary, Demo Reel was probably the most female-aimed show Doug had.
In an amusing bit of proof over who the show was catering towards, the filming of the Lost In Translation episode had Doug confirming Donnie and Ego having sex, which was met with such whooping from the women of the panel that he had to wait until they settled down.
Financial Abuse: Tacoma's mother makes him pay each minute to talk to her, and if that's not enough, leaves him hanging on the line while she does housework.
Five-Token Band: Donnie the bisexual, Tacoma the black guy, Rebecca the woman, Karl the German and Quinn the Irishman.
Force Feeding: The muscle relaxants get pushed into Donnie's mouth before he has a chance to refuse them.
Foreshadowing: While Donnie is talking about his wife in episode one, there's a long, focused shot of him in black and white footage looking alone and utterly miserable, hinting for the second episode that he's not telling the truth about being Happily Married.
Rebecca is pretty happy-go-lucky and bouncy in the first episode, all except for the two scenes where Donnie unintentionally snaps at her and makes her feel stupid, then she gets cold and snarky. She may have accepted people thinking she's a dumbass at first, but she still hates it.
She also irritatedly assumes that whoever's watching thinks a woman can't play Hamlet, even though the first actress to play the character was Sarah Siddons in the 1700's, and the trend continued.
In Donnie's last scene for episode one, check out the empty wine glass by the computer. Almost everyone being alcoholics will get more focus later.
Mara Wilson as Donnie's wife in episode three winds up for the reveal of his backstory: she's a Former Child Star whose mother died while she was filming Matilda and still gets hate for her bad performances, while he's a Former Child Star whose mother killed herself while he was filming and he gave bad performances which people hated him for, and so he changed his name to stop the abuse.
Donnie goes from grudging about Tacoma's ending to relieved when he hears him complain about the finale of The Dark Knight Rises.
The same thing happens in reverse earlier, as he's happy with Tacoma's idea of Wuthering Heights until "diving into the psychological" is mentioned. Now why, as he'd be the lead, would that be a deal-breaker for him?
Donnie sounding like he's going to cry when he tries to explain why he loves his favorite movie seems weird at first, but is totally justified once you find out who was in it.
Donnie wanting to remake movies better ever since he was a kid, and how Hollywood has it coming if he actually destroys them.
Donnie wouldn't be able to have loads of answers to open-ended movie finales if he didn't know the inside workings of Hollywood.
Rebecca complaining that she's in her early twenties and her career already seems going down the drain makes the parallel between her and Donnie's mom clear.
Written!Critic calls Doomsday Machine "downright savage at times" seconds before he comes into his own life and starts ripping into Doug.
Friendship Moment: In the first episode, Donnie showing Tacoma and Rebecca how to do the perfect Bane impression. In the second, sharing a ready-made thanksgiving dinner after killing a renegade vampire turkey.
Karl and Quinn get a few in the second episode, including fond reminiscing of many a Noodle Incident.
Gainax Ending: "The Review Must Go On" was very dark, with Donnie terrified with all his friends are disappearing, a threatening Critic forcing a miserable Doug into bringing him back, lots of creepy angle shots, Donnie finding out that his horrible life has just been punishment for someone else and having to leave his family and friends in the purgatory created by the Plot Hole. But happy rocky instrumental music for the last few minutes, so yay?
Gaslighting: Critic to Doug in The Review Must Go On. Doug tries multiple times for a Shut Up, Hannibal!, even going as far to nearly kill himself with pills to make Critic go away, but Critic drags him down regardless. "You got so sick and tired of it you forgot you enjoyed it" contradicts itself for a reason.
Gender-Inverted Trope: To satirize the sexist "fake geek girl" controversy going strong at the time, Donnie is about as clear a fake geek boy as you can get; not knowing anything about pop culture but pretending he does, flirting to get his way, soaking up knowledge of a Nice Guy and then pretending that knowledge is his own to get laid again. But he's played very sympathetically, and he's so lonely that even though he did the wrong thing you're meant to empathize.
The Heavy: If Tom Collins hadn't sent his colleagues to scare Rebecca/Tacoma and kidnap Donnie, then Donnie would have come home from the con happy, his secrets never revealed and the production would have kept on plugging out shitty remakes.
Held Gaze: A few get shared between Donnie and Tacoma, Donnie and Uncle Yo, and eventually Donnie and Karl. You might notice a common theme here.
Hollywood Homely: invoked Discussed. And by "discussed", we mean Rebecca really lets loose on Being John Malkovich frumping up the cute Cameron Diaz and expecting the audience to buy that she's the ugly one, when actual average-looking women go without a job because "they're not pretty enough".
Hope Spot: Just when Donnie is about to give up and die, the girl's laughter leads him to a house. He's obviously happy about this until he goes inside and... gets knocked out.
In "The Review Must Go On", when all of his friends are disappearing, he realizes with a relieved smile that Karl's still around. He sees the camera-man with his back to him, everything seems to be looking up... and then Karl turns around to reveal the dinosaur mask.
Uncle Yo: [very hungover] Hey, Donnie. How come you want to make movies if all you do is criticize them?
Donnie: [also hungover but not quite as bad] Well, in my opinion, Hollywood's got it coming.
Uncle Yo: So, this is an independent filmmakers crusade against Hollywood? Have you ever tried going out there?
Donnie: I don't need to. I know there's bad stuff out there.
Uncle Yo: What, like an ex?
Donnie: Just bad stuff. Everything I've heard about Hollywood has never been good. You know, they make these movies, they're supposed to make you feel really good, and make you escape the pains of your real life, but when you go to Hollywood, the pain is there. It's always there and Hollywood never lets you forget that.
For the fourth episode, Rebecca gets a big, insightful speech about the shoddy treatment of actresses in the industry.
Less explicit than the other two, but Tacoma realizes that black actors tend to get the shaft, and so tries to act more politically correct to not get in trouble.
Hypocrite: Rebecca's parents don't agree with her career "choices". Fine, especially understandable as one of those "choices" was Sexual Extortion porn. What makes this hypocritical is that they intentionally left her with her sexually abusive uncle, and take no responsibility for the damage they caused.
Ignored Aesop: Donnie had a meta-filled passionate plea on how awful Accentuate the Negative is and how people shouldn't obsess over something miserable from the past, but with a certain comeback you'd think that rant never happened.
I Have Your Wife: Subverted. Tom Collins gets really slimy on the phone to Tacoma, and makes him think something awful will happen to Rebecca (who's alone at the warehouse), but in reality, he's the one who gets beaten up on the way there and she's fine.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Kinder than most, but Uncle Yo still immediately asks for alcohol after a not-totally-sober Donnie introduces himself with “to make your poop rocky, do it with pocky”.
In Medias Res: "The Blair Witch Hangover" starts off with Tacoma apologizing to Donnie and saying they "get it now". Because he and Rebecca got stinking drunk, neither they or the audience get what he's talking about until the next episode.
Ironic Echo: In "Wreck It Ralph vs. Angry Birds", Tacoma tells a despondent Rebecca that at least she's not hurting anyone by acting in a company that makes bad movies but has fun doing it. In "Blue Patches", Donnie numbly rants that he had fun acting, wasn't hurting anyone and didn't know why people hated him so much.
When he's getting told everything about what he really is, Donnie has the same beaten down puppy face as Critic did when he realized he was just a character in To Boldly Flee, and faces the Plot Hole in the same way too. Only instead of getting a You Are Better Than You Think You Are boost and being at peace having saved the world, he's been torn down completely and his fate is losing himself.
In To Boldly Flee, Critic started to get hints that he was just a character, heard a sound, got scared, it turned out to be Doug and they had a sweetly calm if intense conversation. In "The Review Must Go On", Doug is having writer's block, sees shadows on his walls, and Critic carries on messing with him with almost sadist delight. According to Doug's commentary, both this and the above example were intentional "subverting" the nice moments of the movie.
In an example that turns nicer, Donnie accidentally slut-shamed Rebecca by bringing up her one-woman-show of Titanic and asking why she'd do that but not play like Megan Fox in Transformers. In "The Review Must Go On", it's used as one of three examples to show how cool he thinks she is.
Irony: The most grounded show on the site, where abused turkeys make up a plot instead of evil teddy bears, where people are exhausted after badass moments, where if someone feels like they're going crazy they seek help, is a purgatory where nothing is real.
More happily, Transformers has Donnie being at his most shamelessly gay when the spoof is a Bay film and he's playing the lead.
For an extra dose of cruel, the Critic that torments Doug in "The Review Must Go On" comes out of a review ("Doomsday Machine") where he was nice and cared about minorities getting slammed.
Adam getting Donnie's chosen surname wrong (it's pronounced Du-pray, not Dupree) is the first sign of how they actually don't care about him at all.
I Want My Mommy: Dramatic version. When spending too much time in the forest breaks Donnie, he reminisces over how bright and happy his Mom used to be and begs for some of the hope she always had. Made even darker when it's revealed she committed suicide because her acting career was in decline
Jekyll & Hyde: In an interview, Doug referred to "The Review Must Go On" as an updated version of the tale where Hyde wins. In contrast to how he complained about the trope always getting played OTT in "The Top 11 Dumbest Spiderman Moments", he acts it out a little more realistically.
Kick the Dog: The SWAG guys who kidnap Donnie evidently forced him out of his warm-looking jacket, as he's wearing it in the car but is only in two light shirts when he wakes up in the forest.
Knight of Cerebus: She's not a villain, but any time Donnie's mom gets brought up, the scene turns ridiculously depressing.
Laser-Guided Karma: After Donnie is restored to his former life as The Nostalgia Critic he chooses Douchie McNitpick to enter the plot hole and stabilize the Awesomeverse where he is then given the Sisyphean task of finding and fixing all the little flaws of the kind he used to enjoy pointing out to the Critic.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "The Blair Witch Hangover". When Tacoma presses play one time, it cuts to Donnie at night, and Donnie for his part realizes he's nattering to an inanimate object.
Left Hanging: For one, more details on Donnie's marriage and what he did to make it fail would have been nice.
Like Mother Like Son: Donnie's life parallels his mother's. She was a star and Wide-Eyed Idealist until her husband walked out on her and her son. The roles dried up with nobody wanting her because she was middle-aged, and she battled depression until she killed herself. Donnie was a small star for a while, but even though he fell after the death and got abused, still kept his optimism. We see him when he's apparently 42, his marriage is failing and he hits depression at “Lost In Translation”. Then not even the universe wants him around and he dies, having been told he never existed anyway.
Lighter and Softer: Donnie's remakes compared to the originals. Nobody ever dies in them, and if they do, they come back in ways that don't make sense.
Lonely Together: The reason why the cast became friends. Nobody else wanted (or respected, in Rebecca's case) them, so they banded together instead. It's sweeter than it sounds.
Love Triangle: The entire basis of the Lost In Translation episode. Doug even said during con filming that Egoraptor "stole" Donnie away from Yo.
Lowest Common Denominator: In-universe, because Donnie has very little knowledge of geek culture but wants to pretend he does, he vetoes Tacoma's suggested movies of things like Wuthering Heights in favor of trying to pander to the mainstream.
The Mafia: The warehouse that Rebecca works in as a security guard is mob controlled. DuPre's and company do not notice this as being a problem, especially where there's a murder happening in the next room over.
Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Subverted. A pissed off Rebecca tries to beat the SWAG leader to death, and when Tacoma does his best to stop her because "they need a verifiable mugshot", she throws him off.
Meta Guy: Uncle Yo takes on the role in episode three, asking Donnie the fan complaint of why he made a movie parodying Batman if all he wanted to do was point out the flaws.
Mood Whiplash: Episode five starts off fairly easy, with Rebecca and Tacoma finding out that Donnie's a terrible Former Child Star and planning to tease him mercilessly, while Donnie wakes up with a crazy-but-initially-amusing family of fans. But then we find out Donnie's mother killed herself while he was filming the movie he's having to watch with the family and every bit of humor dissipates.
Until Rebecca gets so drunk she's talking about Uncle Frank in a fond way, "The Blair Witch Hangover" regularly went from her and Tacoma being the happiest they've ever been partying with booze, to Donnie alone and experiencing epic Break the Cutie in the woods.
Lost In Translation has Donnie go from the WAFFiest scene ever where he sings Pokemon with Yo and the crowd, to being on the phone with his wife and getting reminded that she doesn't love him.
Moral Myopia: In To Boldly Flee, a big deal is made about Critic having reached Character Development if he doesn't take the selfish option and destroy the Awesomeverse. But in "The Review Must Go On", the opposite happens and it's seen as the right choice even though Donnie cries over it, he loves his friends and everyone dies in the end. It also means, dishearteningly, Ma-Ti was right about Critic.
Musical Spoiler: When everyone is introducing themselves, music suited to their personality plays. Tacoma gets sturdy trumpets, Rebecca is underscored with a bouncy violin that turns sad, Carl and Quinn both have a German choir... but Donnie has silence. That's because he's not telling the truth about his situation.
The theme song change too. When the show turned dramatic like how Doug had envisioned it to be, the music went from a rocky cover of Auld Lang Syne to a dark-Western-like guitar riff
The mournful drone playing while Tacoma apologizes to Donnie appears again when he and Rebecca find out what happened to Donnie's mom.
When Donnie gets overpowered by Critic, it goes from sad strings to a hellishly ethereal metal version of "The Review Must Go On".
More seriously, Tacoma telling Donnie that he's destroying the things he loves brings to mind Critic's breakdown in To Boldly Flee about everything he does having a negative impact on someone.
In the "credits" for Donnie's version of The Sixth Sense, the music is apparently being performed by Randy Newman- or more accurately, Doug doing a horrible impression of Randy Newman. Doug has openly admitted several times to hating Newman's work, and a minor running joke in the Nostalgia Critic involved him doing a similarly horrible impression of Randy Newman singing songs on mundane things like foxes looking at bags or officers stuttering in front of ladies.
Narrative Filigree: For instance, in one shot of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising", a game of Risk is prominently displayed in the background. What does it have to do with what's going on? Nothing at all, these characters are just dorky.
Nice Guys Finish Last: Rebecca, Quinn and Tacoma all get erased in “The Review Must Go On” immediately after they have a moment of trying to show Donnie that they love him. And then there's Donnie himself, who was nicer than Critic even in his later days, but still has to give up his life.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Donnie DuPre was born Jimmy Boyd, a parody of Jake Lloyd. His mother, Elissa Hoffman is a reference to A Patch of Blue star Elizabeth Hartman who died in a similar manner. Because of this, there's a clear influence of Mara Wilson, whose mother died of cancer during filming of Matilda, in his backstory.
Never Trust a Trailer: The scene in the trailer of Bane and Batman talking gibberish is nowhere in the hour-long premiere.
Non-Indicative First Episode: Thanks to a retool following the premiere episode, an amusing parody of Batman doesn't exactly cry out that they're later going to be dealing with abusive pasts, the many problems of Hollywood and maternal suicide.
Nothing Is Scarier: We don't see what was in the woods with Donnie in "The Blair Witch Hangover" until the next episode. Until then all we know is that something was giggling and howling and something knocked him out at the end.
The fact that we never see the mysterious little girl from the front (or for more than a couple seconds at a time) makes her a lot creepier, as well.
Also works to make SWAG more threatening. Until the ending, the leader was only seen as a white silhouette on a black wall, the minions who try and freak out Tacoma and Rebecca all wear masks, and who knows how many people were in the car with Donnie.
Critic's first “appearance” in The Review Must Go On. He's a shadow just lurking behind the corner, and when Doug notices, he rushes off. Of course his behavior is still terrifying when we do see him.
Oh Crap: Tom Collins' reaction to finding Donnie alive and pissed.
Donnie knew he was in deep shit when he woke up with bottles in his hand and Egoraptor sleeping next to him instead of Uncle Yo. His groan when he'd remembered everything certainly sounds like this situation has happened before.
Please Don't Leave Me: Inverted. Twice, Donnie has to be forced to leave by someone who has more right to feel that way than he does: a sick Tacoma suffering from vampiric bird flu, and the whole team when they're about to fade away forever in the Plot Hole.
Prayer Is a Last Resort: Donnie calls it the final act of desperation after eating leaves, drinking urine and committing possum-cide. When it doesn't seem to work he tries praying to Satan, which also doesn't work.
Precision F-Strike: As the stronger swear words in the show are usually bleeped out, Donnie telling the father how fucking sorry he is that he couldn't give a good performance after just finding out that his mother died packs more punch.
Primal Fear: Donnie Hates Being Alone and has a history of Sanity Slippage with a destroyed dead mom to boot. So what happens in "The Review Must Go On"? All his friends start disappearing (for extra pain points, Tacoma does right after he says he'll stay until the ambulance comes) and anyone who's left doesn't even remember the person existing.
Tom's way of scaring Tacoma; preying on his image of Rebecca as a young, vulnerable woman alone at night. Nothing happens to her because Tacoma's the one walking into a trap, but you can imagine the scenario put in his head.
Natalie Portman!Rebecca: I'm gonna be elected Queen!
Ethan!Donnie: Don't be ridiculous, nobody likes queens.
Natalie Portman!Rebecca: Ohh...
Queer Romance: Despite not being allowed to show the fun parts, "Lost In Translation" is all about the Donnie/Uncle Yo love. Sadly like most in the genre, it ends in disappointment, as they make arrangements to meet up a few months later but Donnie gets erased before then.
Quit Your Whining: In a rather gentle way considering what he's like, Karl tries to get Donnie out of his depression at the con and make the movie he wanted.
Karl: Are you going to film this movie or what?
Donnie: What’s the point? You heard Rebecca and Tacoma. They’re not gonna like it anyway...
Karl: As if that has ever stopped you.
Rationalizing The Overkill: The SWAG leader assumes that kidnapping someone at gunpoint and leaving them to starve to death slowly in an abandoned patch of woods is justifiable punishment for his territory getting threatened.
Riches to Rags: Elisa Hoffman went from winning an Oscar to living in hotels with her son, and Donnie went from celebrity life to having to leech cash off his wife.
Reality Ensues: As it turns out, your co workers will be not be happy to stay around your business, when you do things like kidnap a rival production's director/owner, and abandon him in the woods.
After escaping from the yandere family and having a big badass moment with the SWAG leader, Donnie's exhausted. As most people would be, even if they hadn't been kidnapped twice.
When Donnie thinks he's going crazy in "The Review Must Go On", he tells his remaining friends so they can try and help him, and an ambulance is called so that he can get better in a mental home.
Only a little bit of reality as it doesn't kill him like it should/he wanted, but after, y'know, taking a load of tranquillizers, Doug's sleeping and upon waking up rubbing his head painfully like he'd passed out.
After getting a stalkery call from Tom Collins in the Transformers episode, Donnie immediately goes to his friends to see if Demo Reel actually did anything wrong.
Reality Subtext: Donnie wants Slash Fic about him. If you're up to date on your fandom, you'll know Doug and his characters combined practically own the slash-heavy Kink Meme, and Doug has given every delighted blessing for this fact.
In-universe, Tacoma wrote the perfect Wreck-It Ralph speech because it summed up his family situation. Donnie, same thing, proving he can act if the words mean anything to him.
The film Donnie's mother starred in, Blue Patches, resembles A Patch Of Blue right down to her name sounding like the actress in the latter movie, who also committed suicide later over the claim that "Hollywood destroyed her." Not coincidentally, said actress also voiced Mrs. Brisby in The Secret Of Nimh, Doug's favorite animated film.
The Donnie/Rebecca argument in Transformers sounds very much like an argument Doug/Lindsay had in the To Boldly Flee shooting. Like Donnie not getting why Rebecca thought being slutty for an audience was a bad thing because he had no problem with it himself, Doug couldn't understand Lindsay's annoyance with her costume because he was taught all sexual attention was a good thing.
As seen from convention answers and both the Suburban Knights and To Boldly Flee commentaries, Doug doesn't have the greatest confidence as a director, and Donnie's... lacking in that area was his way of poking at himself.
In a thankful case where the reality is less depressing, Donnie is all about Oops Forgot I Was Married for Domestic Abuse reasons, but Doug has to be reminded of his wife on several occasions just because he really loves flirting. (And even better, she's often close by or in the same room and is usually happy to watch him do it.)
Real Life Writes the Plot: According to Doug's commentary, "The Review Must Go On" happened because he was told Critic had to come back. Demo Reel could stay and he could bring the character back however he wanted, but he had to do reviews again.
Even after "The Review Must Go On" came out, Rob gave a load of details of what they were planning to do in later seasons (Rebecca wanting to take things to the next level with Tacoma, more detail into Quinn and Karl's relationship, RL!Doug playing with Donnie more, Lindsay and Lewis in dramatic roles etc.), which makes it look like the only reason character!Doug suffers writer's block is because he has to.
Real Men Hate Affection: Shamelessly averted, as while Donnie, Tacoma and Uncle Yo don't fit the "real man" stereotype so cuddle tons, Quinn and Karl do, and there's still a sweet moment in "Wreck It Ralph vs Angry Birds" where Karl holds Quinn's hand when he's sick.
Reason You Suck Speech: Donnie gives an epic one to the Yandere family after he finds out that they've been keeping him captive by dosing him with muscle relaxants.
Donnie: You people! You never mean anything by it when you really think about it; it’s when you don’t think about it that your inner dicks come out!
Retcon: Watch To Boldly Flee and it's made clear that Critic's sacrificing his life half because he wanted to and half for his friends. "The Review Must Go On" tries to have us believe it was just for the sake of the plot only.
Word of God even confirmed in the TBF commentary that Critic made sure he died a martyr by putting on a Jerkass Façade so the others wouldn't care. Now the tune is changed and he "couldn't handle the paradox of his own martyrdom".
The continuity-strangling goes back to funny little Looney-Tunes-rip-off Kickassia, as the whole reason Critic invaded the nation in the first place was because he hated his job and wanted out.
The beginning of the Reloaded Reviews hammer the final nail in the coffin, as they were done when Doug still wanted nothing more to do with the Critic and it starts off with drama queening about how the Plot Hole is hell being proved wrong when he gets served a drink.
Revenge: The bad movies Donnie makes are a passive-aggressive way of getting back at Hollywood for destroying his mommy.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: Uncle Yo assumes that Donnie's being a brat about Hollywood because his mom told him not to go there. He's on the correct lines, but the truth is far more painful.
Critic's line "and we all know what [Demo Reel] was, what Donnie was this whole time...". In his mind he's bullcrapping about Doug really loving him the best, but 1) Donnie = Critic was admitted as Doug being angry at fans and 2) Rob confirmed it was more like Donnie = Doug, so he's got a point about how important the show and character were, but his conclusion was wrong.
During Blue Patches episode: “Say you’re sorry, Liz.” / “Sorry.”
Say My Name: Everyone really seems to like saying Donnie's name, perhaps to hammer home the irony that it's not his real one.
Security Cling: In the first of many ship teases, the Sixth Sense parody has Donnie and Rebecca on a very small bed and huddling together out of fear from the ghosts.
Also in the pilot, when casually threatened by Quinn, Tacoma hides behind Donnie for protection.
Self-Deprecation: Donnie talks about how making videos on the internet doesn't bring in much money (no money actually), so he has to get support from his wife.
Doug writes himself as fairly awful and pitiful in “The Review Must Go On”, as he falls over getting the garbage out, is nostalgic for the Critic after months of bragging about To Boldly Flee being the perfect ending, rants like a crazy person in his room after watching the movie, is broken down by Critic's creepy to the point where he's taking enough pills “to kill a baby rhino”, gets his own heartwarming words about said character evolving twisted around, falls into the same trap with Lindsay as Critic did with Chick in Kickassia, has Donnie act like the Creator's words are coming from a hack, and forces Douchey to be the Plot Hole.
Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: PG version. Bane's henchmen in-movie (played by Doug/Donnie and Rachel/Rebecca) wear eyeliner, carry guns and show off more skin with a tight black t-shirt and sleeveless black top respectively. They obviously don't do this as any other character.
Sexual Extortion: Rebecca was made to do porn in the past because of some vague financial problems.
Sexy Discretion Shot: Hinted for laughs with Donnie/Rebecca in the pilot, but treated as an Oh Crap moment when Donnie wakes up to find he "cheated" on Uncle Yo with Egoraptor.
Ship Tease: Loads between the three mains. Donnie and Tacoma share held gazes a-plenty, Donnie "flirts" with Rebecca saying she should shave her head, and Rebecca acts like a Violently Protective Girlfriend when she sees Tacoma is sick from the vampire bird flu while he... tries to protect her likewise.
Show Within a Show: Demo Reel productions is a different beast from Demo Reel the webseries. More focused on comedy and pandering for one thing, even after they decide to make their own films.
Slut Shaming: Accidentally happens between Donnie and Rebecca in Transformers, as he loves being a slut and doesn't get why she won't parade herself, and Rebecca getting angry because she just wanted one job where she wasn't treated badly.
Signature Line: Fans joke that Quinn's response to Tacoma and Rebecca's angst - "My God this is depressing, and I'm Irish! I'm gonna have to put on Angela's Ashes, just so I can remember what it's like to laugh again." - is a good summation of the series in general.
Social Services Does Not Exist: The producers of “Jingle Sells” didn't care one bit about Jimmy's mental state after his only guardian killed herself, making him still shoot scenes with fake parents and not wanting it to be talked about as it would “dampen the mood”.
Society Is to Blame: When reeling from the reveal of Donnie's backstory and figuring out that he made bad movies as revenge, Tacoma sadly calls it the way of things. Thankfully Rebecca still has fight in her and convinces him to write a good movie as a gift for Donnie.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Quirky, waltz-like music plays over Tacoma and Rebecca getting completely rejected by their parents.
Space Whale Aesop: "The Review Must Go On". Writers, don't abuse your characters and then kindly break the fourth wall telling them they're important, they'll just for whatever reason go insane and make your life hell.
Spell My Name with an S: In Episode 1, we see the cameraman's name written on-screen as "Carl". In "The Review Must Go On", we see Doug's script writing it as "Karl".
The Stasi: Karl's former job "before the wall fell"
Stepford Suburbia: On a familial level, the Yandere family that finds Donnie (Adam, Jill and Liz); they seem sweet if eccentric. Then you find out they are holding Donnie captive by feeding him muscle relaxants.
A Storm Is Coming: Just before it cuts to Doug, thunderstorm effects play on the soundtrack as Donnie gets scared by what will later become the Plot Hole.
Sudden Downer Ending: The happiness earned in Blue Patches is completely undone in The Review Must Go On.
Sympathy for the Devil: Liz. She's a Creepy Child, laughed at Donnie when he was scared or wanting to die, has even less boundaries with him than her parents do, and like them doesn't learn anything, but her dad blames her for everything and no wonder she acts like a little demon when she has them to look up to.
Together in Death: Possibly the only show where a character is near giving up and wants to be with his mother instead of a romantic interest.
Tacoma, Karl, Quinn and Rebecca at least fade away in the Plot Hole together.
Too Happy to Live: "The Review Must Go On" starts with Donnie peacefully humming to himself, and Rebecca and Tacoma acting like Sickeningly Sweethearts, so of course they all have to be crushed like bugs.
Triang Relations: As it stood, Donnie, Rebecca and Tacoma were a type 8, with one person loving and being possessive of the other two equally.
True Companions: The cast and crew are closer to each other than their real family....which shouldn't be too hard because Tacoma, Donnie and Rebecca families all hate them.
Unfortunate Implications: DiscussedIn-Universe. Donnie had Tacoma play in the Dark Knight episode, 1) Alfred, a butler, 2) the Joker, a madman that seeks the dissolution of society, and 3) Harvey Dent/Two Face, Bruce's romantic rival that "steals" Dawes from Batman, and 4) Bane. In other words, all of his roles are evil except the one that's servile.
Tacoma is worried about wearing white-face for his Joker role until Rebecca points this out; he then declares that "you Crackers have it coming."
In one of the more subtle moments of commentary against racism, Donnie takes away and dubs over Tacoma's voice for both Bane and the Joker, and is portrayed as an asshole for it.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The blonde cosplayer. She flirts with Donnie, gives him her card and gives him a smile as she leaves, but as she's a Shrinking Violet and he's used to people instantly going for him, he takes this as rejection and slides back into misery.
"Blue Patches" for The Reveal of Donnie's backstory, his realizing that he can't obsess over the past anymore, Tacoma and Rebecca proving once and for all that they have talent, and the SWAG leader going insane.
Wham Line: "Donnie DuPre... does not exist. No birth certificate. No records."
"All our hopes rest on the Nostalgia Critic."
"Donnie DuPre looks up and sees the Plot Hole."
Wham Shot: The newspaper headline in "Blue Patches". Nominated Star Leaves Behind Legacy, Son.
What Did I Do Last Night?: Donnie goes straight from a flirting introduction with Egoraptor to waking up sprawled out on his bed with more booze in his hand. He gets what happened pretty quickly though, as his Oh Crap reaction to seeing not-Uncle Yo in the other bed shows.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Carl seems to hold this belief, as he's sickened with Rebecca for accidentally injuring her cat, but slaughters a pig right in front of Donnie and Tacoma, and would have been more than happy to do the same to the turkey.
What the Hell, Hero?: Carl briefly but firmly calls out Tacoma and Rebecca for prying into Donnie's personal life.
Lewis is exasperated when he asks Doug why on earth he watched “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green. Doug doesn't answer and changes the subject.
Donnie has a breakdown aimed at the Creator over how awful his life has been. The Creator is not sympathetic.
What You Are in the Dark: Because he doesn't want to let the past torture him anymore, Donnie refuses to hurt the family or become what they are. He even chides himself for being unfair to them after rambling that they should stay in the corner and not blink.
A World Half Full: The show can go to some really dark places, and you'll be disappointed if you're expecting a comedy, but our heroes are good people, learn from their mistakes and stick together because they love each other.
You Are Not Alone: In the second episode, Donnie really doesn't want to leave Tacoma alone and sick, and has to be forced into going back to work on the movie.
You Bastard: After Doug admitted Donnie = Critic was an attack on the fans demanding the latter back, Donnie's rant becomes a mainstream plea to the mainstream fandom as to why his tragedy means so little to them.
"The Blair Witch Hangover" had an instance used more subtle. It's a well-known fact that fandom loves seeing Doug's characters in pain, and the show plays that aspect for drama. The people who kidnapped Donnie left him a camera, so when he's dead from starvation, a wild animal or giving up because his depression over his mom is getting worse, someone can watch the tape and see him degrade.