Elevator creator Woody Tondorf’s Foursquare Cops elevates minor online infractions to crimes worthy of Judge Dredd-style justice. I invoke Judge Dredd because like Sylvester Stallone’s vigilante future cop, these cops don’t hesitate to shoot transgressors who might violate the Foursquare spirit.
[show=reservationshow size=large]Comparing a web series to a TV show isn’t something I love to do, because the playing field is pretty uneven. But in the case of the indie series Reservation, when compared to the NBC drama Heroes, I don’t mind doing so because Reservation wins.
Directed by Matthew Balthrop of g14 Productions and distributed via Blip, Reservation tells the story of people with extraordinary abilities — and the government agency hunting them.
The approach, though, is pure character with little narrative, with each tightly-paced episode focusing on either someone with supernatural powers and how it affects their lives, or one of the agents hunting them. The closest the show has to a central protagonist is Alec Silva/Agent Pearce (Al Ghanekar), a reactivated agent whose decision to return to duty deeply complicates his personal life.
But in between vignettes about his domestic drama come portraits of people dealing with their special abilities without resorting to cliches like crime fighting or villainy. What would you do if you saw the future and it held tragedy? What’s it like to live life at sonic speed? Read More about Reservation Brings an Intimate Touch to Superheroics
[show=redcarpetrun size=large]I knew I was going to enjoy the entertainment quiz show Red Carpet Run the moment I saw the words “on a moving treadmill.” Sure, it’s a gimmick to have contestants answer questions while running on a treadmill, but it’s a great gimmick. In fact, I’d probably enjoy Red Carpet Run more if they spent the whole episode on a treadmill.
Created by Michael Todd Cohen and hosted by Noah Starr, the Blip-hosted Red Carpet Run challenges pop culture enthusiasts to answer questions on a range of film and TV topics. The questions aren’t exactly Jeopardy-level in terms of their difficulty but with categories like “Television of the Year 2002,” it’s clear that MENSA members aren’t the target demographic.
The structure of the show is pretty impressive, though, in that each episode manages to be relatively complete and satisfying despite only lasting about eight minutes. Moving between three rounds — an audition phase, a showdown, and then the titular Red Carpet Run, where a final contestant answers questions on one topic in a tuxedo while running on a treadmill — the show’s tight structure keeps things moving, the only lag time appearing when a contestant blanks on an answer. Read More about A Treadmill Helps Keep Quiz Show Red Carpet Run Moving Fast
When Sony (s SNE) announced the premise of its first reality series for the PlayStation Network in February, I wasn’t the only one who thought that a competition to win an unglamorous entry-level position was kinda dumb. Internet mockery didn’t, however, keep The Tester from racking up a total of 2 million downloads over the course of its eight-episode season. And now that it’s concluded and Will “Cyrus” Powers has won the big prize, it’s worth asking: Did the series deserve to be mocked so? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
After all, The Tester‘s episodic challenges were designed to legitimately put through the paces skills a game tester must have: a critical eye, a healthy imagination, industry knowledge and communication skills. And working as a game tester is how most in the video game industry got their start; it’s considered a common stepping stone to greater achievements.
However, there are still touches of the ridiculous to The Tester. For example, everyone went not by their real names but by their “gamer tags,” which means that you have a 34-year-old man introducing himself to the other contestants as “Barmy.” That’s not a tester thing, at least not according to my brother, who’s worked as a game tester for a year and a half now and says they just use their real names. And in one episode, the producers made the contestants LARP — not an activity soaked with dignity. Read More about The Case in Defense of Sony PlayStation’s The Tester
[show=luckandthevirgin size=large]If I were given the power to make rules about online video advertising, here’d be one of them: No pre-roll ad can be longer than, say, 20 percent of a video’s run-time. I do not have this power, though, and thus I am sad to say that of the four and a half minutes of video I watched this morning on Koldcast.tv, a minute and a half were dull and annoying Airwick commercials.
The other three minutes, however, weren’t that bad. Luck and the Virgin, currently running on Koldcast in English and on YouTube (s GOOG) in English with Spanish subtitles, bills itself as a 60 second soap, though the model in this case isn’t a traditional American soap opera, but instead a Mexican telenovela — a decision heightened by the choice of location, Mexico. In the first three episodes, we meet Valentina (Whitney Moore), an American who, due to some incredibly efficient storytelling, is already in serious trouble thanks to a former boyfriend, a misplaced bag and a life story’s worth of mysteries.
Luck and the Virgin chooses to be sparing with details, especially those that might explain why Valentina is down in Mexico, and creative with its construction of the show’s time line, leaning heavily on flashbacks and flash-forwards. But rather than proving frustrating, this heightens the mystery — the end result is the sense of watching only the most important moments of a drama, and trying to puzzle out how they fit together. The time investment required here is low, but and worth the result. Read More about Minus Pre-Rolls, Luck and the Virgin A Tight and Intriguing 60 Seconds
Four days following the 2010 Streamy Awards, Tubefilter Associate Editor Jenni Powell and Guild producer Kim Evey put together a “do-over” for those who thought that Sunday night’s ceremony didn’t properly represent the spirit of web video.
[show=ghostfacers size=large]Watching Ghostfacers, a new WB TV (s WB) series spun off from the long-running supernatural series Supernatural, I am struck, once again, by a yearning for a time machine. This parody of docu-soap reality shows like Ghost Hunters is well-made and well-written. It also feels painfully behind the times.
The episode of Supernatural that introduced Ed (A.J. Buckley), Harry (Travis Wester) and Maggie (Brittany Ishibashi) as amateur ghost hunters seeking to achieve reality TV fame by documenting their exploits aired originally in 2008. And if this show had been produced for the web back then I’d be a huge fan of it — both as a fresh and funny spin on the supernatural world as well as an exciting new example of a network series giving a one-off idea a chance to grow online.
Unfortunately, by waiting so long to capitalize on the idea’s potential, Ghostfacers now suffers. Creating a spinoff series around tertiary characters is old news in 2010, after all, not to mention the fact that Ghost Hunters parodies have been done. Read More about Supernatural Spinoff Ghostfacers Brings Funny, Lacks Freshness
[show=rememberwhen size=large]There is something fascinating about the fact that it is still possible to make a piece of content about three or four white guys in their 20s goofing around (a genre of comedy so old that I’m sure it’s in Aristotle’s Poetics somewhere) that manages to also be distinctively fresh. Of course, a good premise goes a long way in helping with that.
[digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Remember_When_The_Next_Great_Indie_Web_Series]The what-meets-what description of Remember When, an indie series which launched yesterday, would probably be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets The Hangover. But to cast it in that light doesn’t spotlight the original execution, clever writing and hilarious performances. What happens is simple: Elisha (Elisha Yaffe) gets injured during an “amateur wrestling incident” and loses all of his memories. Feeling guilty, his buddies decide to help him get them back by making him relive those moments through re-enactments. Because they are morons, though, this proves to be difficult — but hilarious.
The first three episodes to be produced run a little long at 10 minutes each but are broken up nicely into vignette segments, and production values are top-notch without feeling too polished (which might have made the show feel inauthentic). Not all the characters get equal treatment: Randy (Randy Liedtke) is a hilarious foil, but Alex (Alexander Barrett) feels a little underutilized, while the jerkiness of Curt (Curt Neill) at times dominates the three first episodes. However, Elisha in his amnesiac stupor is actually a pretty sweet emotional anchor for the show, especially in the third episode, when he’s forced to re-enact his break-up with Claire (Codi Fischer) — which does not go according to plan. Read More about Remember When: The Next Great Indie Comedy To Maybe Go Big
Tech Fail, Taste Fail and Attitude Fail led to this year’s Streamy Awards being poorly executed and poorly received. In the aftermath, executive producer Brady Brim-Deforest said that “Last night’s show really wasn’t in the spirit of how we wanted to recognize the nominees and winners.”
The winners list for the 2010 Streamy Awards, including The Guild, The Bannen Way, Zach Galifianakis, David Wain, Zadi Diaz, Shane Dawson and “Weird Al” Yankovic.