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Rainn Wilson reinvents TV with 'The Impression Guys' on YouTube (Video)

Rainn Wilson, no stranger to TV success after a spectacular run on "The Office", has decided to give back by becoming a producer of new TV shows and talent. But the way he's going about it, is, well, unusual, to say the least.

Rainn Wilson reinvents the TV pilot with The Impression Guys on YouTube
Photo by Pierre Zonzon

On Feb 10, Wilson introduced a new, full-length TV pilot, called "The Impression Guys", starring Jim Meskimen and Ross Marquand.

Is it on NBC, AMC, or HBO?

No. Wilson decided to launch the new series on... YouTube?

That's right. YouTube. And, in the process, Rainn Wilson is trying to reinvent the way TV pilots get produced and, hopefully, make it to the air.

Can it work? Well, if the quality, humor and inventiveness of the pilot for "The Impression Guys" is any indication, TV may have just been changed forever.

The series stars veteran celebrity impressionist Jim Meskimen, well known as a character actor, comedian and all around good guy who broke through a few years back with an astounding rendition of a Shakespeare soliloquy, uncannily delivered in the voices of more than a dozen different actors.

He's supported in the series by newcomer Ross Marquand, who adds to the mix with spot-on impressions of some younger stars, particularly Justin Timberlake, Colin Farrell and Matthew McConaughey, to name just a few.

The show is part of Wilson's SoulPancake channel on YouTube, a launching pad for a wide variety of comedy. But, this foray into television entertainment is the most ambitious project yet.

The premise is centered on the two stars who, despite a fair amount of success, a little bit of money, and lots of admiration from convulsed listeners, can't help but feel they've been pigeonholed as impressionists, which seriously messes with their mutual ambition to be considered serious, dramatic actors.

So, what to do to change that "impression"?

Well, watching the pilot (written by Ben Shelton of The Flip Side and The Daily Show) reveals the answer. Suffice to say it's a clever twist which should bring back an audience for more, as the show spins out its initial, six week run.

That shouldn't be a problem as the video is already going viral with thousands of views, hundreds of supportive comments and plenty of thumbs up likes.

It's hard to say if the world is ready for this premise or not. Impressionists reached their peak in the mid-1970s with stars like Rich Little on shows like "The Kopy Kats." Maybe it's because there's a dearth of talent in the field?

No longer. With the comedic abilities of both Meskimen and Marquand, along with a core of other competent comedic actors (Angela Kinsey, Amy Castle, Tom Ayers and Tiffany Hutson) "The Impression Guys" already feels like a mature, seasoned TV show, easily successful on any broadcast or cable TV network.

Looks like it may be time for impressionists to make a well-timed, well-deserved comeback.

Watch "The Impression Guys" on YouTube's SoulPancake Channel, airing Monday nights through March 17.

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