Disney Launches Stage 9, Squeegees

Disney-ABC Television Group has officially taken the wraps off Stage 9 Digital Media, its short-form programing production company, with the premiere of Squeegees, a new broadband comedy series from online sketch comedy group Handsome Donkey.


Stage 9 has a production slate of more than 20 programs in the works, including animation, comedy, drama and the high-production sci-fi series Trenches. Stage 9 is the latest effort by big media companies to get into the web content game. TBS has SuperDeluxe, Comedy Central creates short-form programs through Atom (where I used to work), and powerhouse talent agency UTA has 60Frames.

One trend that seems to be emerging from all of these big media web initiatives is that they’re merely creating shorter versions of what already exists in old media. Sketch comedy series are just smaller version of Saturday Night Live. Roommates is like a shorter version of The Hills. quarterlife is just a shorter version of, uhh, quarterlife, now that it’s on TV (but probably not for long). Case in point: Squeegees.

Squeegees is about a group of bumbling window washers and their hijinks. Two episodes are currently available, and after watching both, what struck me most was how sitcom-y the show is. It’s got the goofy guys, the straight-laced boss (who happens to have a cute daughter), and all the jokes are built around wacky situations. That doesn’t mean it’s not funny: There are chuckle-inducing bits about nougat, drunken window-washing, and exposing one’s self in front of a day-care class in a particularly painful way. It just doesn’t seem as — ugh, I can’t believe I’m actually typing this — edgy as the Donkey’s previous work (Orgasmalarm, anyone?).

The series will live on both ABC.com and YouTube, with new episodes released Monday and Fridays on both sites. But in an inexcusable act of corporate control, neither site allows embedding. Come on! If you want to build an audience, let the viewers be the architect for web domination. Perhaps Toyota, the series’ launch partner, was a little skittish about having its brand out in the wild. Regardless, it’s short-sighted thinking.

And while this is a little cruel, I couldn’t resist: It looks like Stage 9 forgot to flip a switch on its new web site with its launch today — the site is still filled with Lorem Ipsum.