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Series / Off Beat Cinema

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"There are too many words to describe Off-Beat Cinema. It's comic, it's zen, it's images, it's words, it's feeling. And most of all, it's java!"
Bird the Painter

"It's a mad pad, dad!"

Off-Beat Cinema is a longtime, low-budget midnight movie series airing out of Buffalo, New York, featuring three Beatnik hosts (The Not-So-Mysterious Zelda played by Constance Caldwell; Bird the Painter played by Anthony Billoni; Theodore the know-it-all played by Jeffrey Roberts) who showcase art flicks, B-movies, and public domain shorts. The bumper segments show the cast mixing irreverent discussion about the movie with philosophizing, poetry, musical performances, and the occasional special guest.


The show debuted on Buffalo's WKBW on Halloween 1993 as an antidote to late-night infomercials. The show and its menagerie of flicks became popular locally, but Off-Beat Cinema didn't go national until the late-Oughties when it was picked up by Retro TV. In 2012, the show Channel Hopped to Buffalo's WBBZ, where it airs at midnight on Saturdays following Svengoolie.

Compare and contrast with both Svengoolie and Mystery Science Theater 3000, in that Off-Beat Cinema covers the same kinds of movies as they do but refrain from MST. The official site is here.


Off-Beat Cinema provides examples of:

  • Beatniks: The whole MO of the show. Each of the hosts play the stereotype Up to Eleven.
  • Channel Hop: From WKBW to the Retro Television Network (now Retro TV) and, later, to WBBZ.
  • Cool Shades: Maxwell and Zelda are seldom seen without them.
  • Horror Host: The three Beatniks are genial, laid-back, non-supernatural examples of the trope. Even the Mysterious Zelda, despite what her name implies, seems like a normal lady.
  • Long Runner: Going on twenty years.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • Off-Beat Cinema's title references both the nature of the movies and the show's beatnik motifs.
    • Oscar Wild, one of the original hosts, was named for both Oscar Wilde and his "wild" persona.
  • Special Guest: Not so often, but the show has managed to book a few big names — like Keanu Reeves, Lauren Bacall, and Emo Phillips, to name a few.