Thursday, April 19, 2007


An article about Internet Protocol Television and the main players...

I guess the distinction from sites like YouTube is that they're not web-based. They're their own platforms / protocols.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Strand Venice Beach

"Where Everyone is a Character"

This is an older one, but it's worth mentioning because I think it was one of the first more serious (better budget) internet serials.

Made by one of the creators of "The Blair Witch Project".

Somewhere along the way, it seems to have lost it's direction.

I never got past the pilot. First, because you had to pay for the subsequent episodes but, more importantly, because the pilot didn't grab me. Like Prom Queen, it has few characters and lots of charicatures (it even features a cameo from Kevin Smith). It's very external looking in, and you don't get a sense of any character worth rooting for.

The first episode featured a woman smashing up a porsche with a baseball bat. The idea seemed to be I would ask myself "OMG why is she doing that? I have to know what happens next." It's just not enough. We don't know anything about her yet, but it feels like you can guess what's going on... she's probably just angry at her boyfriend for cheating on her.

A hook like this has to be something we've never seen before. And hooking someone over and over again is MORE difficult than doing it on TV. That means your show has to be better than the first season of LOST (not easy).

The episodes are no longer available and the web site seems for the most part to have been abandoned, but I can gather from the reviews that the episodes have been assembled into a feature and is dong the festival circuit.

I think this is a pretty solid business plan. But they should really sell the fact that the Strand is now a feature film available for purchase on DVD (or download on Unbox?) "Now, own all the episodes for yourself."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

At first I thought this blog was going to be just about video series online, but I'm quickly remembering that the point of the internet and 4th Generation Media is that it's not limited to moving pictures.

Year Zero is more work than just downloading videos, but it's engaging and compelling for the most part. It's a network of web sites and 'happenstances' that, like a good mystery movie, peak your curiosity and pull you down the rabbit hole. The first thing that got me hooked was this audio clip which is pretty cool. (yeah, you gotta get past the silly 'monologue' to get to the point of the clip).

After that, I was a little disappointed with references to standard conspiracy cliche's of "what are they putting in the water" (fluoride?) and "how to carve a tracking device out of your arm." It's a little annoying because that's the kind of stuff that makes the whole thing more fake... if anyone actually reads the news, there's plenty of real stuff that'll freak you out. Plus mixing in real stuff with the kooky stuff discredits the real problems we're facing with keeping our governments in check.

This is at least partly the work of 42 Entertainment, now famous for their i love bees Halo 2 launch.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot... all of this surrounds the launch of a NIN album.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How to Succeed In Evil 5/5

This is by far the best thing I've seen or heard on the internet in a long time. He gets it right on every level. Story, characters, cliffhangers. It's a solid cow that will give milk for years to come.

Patrick McLean's main focus is story. So it's not a video show, it's a 6-10 minute audio podcast. Which is a lot easier to produce (although still a lot of work and has it's own challenges). But the story and world are more real and complete.

Story: A consultant in evil gives up trying to help evil masterminds and goes into business for himself.

There are few things (even movies) that make me forget my troubles and transport me away--this does. It doesn't only make you want to find out what's around the bend; it also allows you to savor the scene you're in.

He initially started the podcast to promote an idea for a comic book. But word is that it's also in the process to become a tv show. None of that could possibly beat hearing the writer do all the voices himself.

My one suggestion is that he really needs to spread his wings and come up with some truly ingenious evil plans. I haven't heard a good one since the 'fractions of pennies' from Superman 3 (which has been used repeatedly since). So far, Patrick's shown that being successfully evil is easy with a little discipline. But he has some stiff competition from real-world villains like Enron.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Prom Queen 1/5

This is the worst of both worlds. A low budget series that gets the Hollywood treatment.

All the effort was put into the high-concept genre pitch that practically sells itself. But unlike Stranger Things, the people writing and working on it don't particularly care about the series. It's just a (small) paycheck. And they're just going through the motions.

It's shot well enough (although the pilot is annoyingly interlaced). They have believable production value / locations. But they have WAAY too many characters, all of them the kind of obnoxious clich├ęs that studio execs consider to be high school archetypes. Including a British exchange student that makes a deliberate point of saying stuff like "he is such a WANKER."

So far the forums seem to mainly be populated with paid administrators.

The peculiarity here is that Michael Eisner is behind this thing, and it's a decently-budgeted project. But nothing about it makes me want to come back. Not the paper cut out characters, not the acting, not the uninspired writing. Maybe (like a lot of work in this genre) it'll get good when the teenagers start dying.

It's a shame that when Hollywood puts stuff on the internet it's only their C and D material. Later, if/when web bubble 2.0 pops, they'll point to stuff like this and say the audience just isn't there.

They're using the old media business model with sponsorship paying the bills (at first it's a lot Hairspray the movie commercials).

The strange part is that they've broken up the film into 80 x 90 second clips that come out each day. It's like watching a feature film a scene at a time. Boring. Especially during character development. The second or third episode introduces us to 300 inconsequential characters in 90 seconds.

It amounts to a fun teenage soap opera a la Swan's Crossing with horror elements.

If you want to see something good by Michael Eisner, watch his Conversations with Michael Eisner series. His interviewing style is clumsy but his guests are the most brilliant high-powered names in entertainment. Unfortunately, you can never watch two episodes in the same place for some reason. I’ve caught three episodes by digging around.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Stranger Things 3/5

The first series I'd like to point out is "Stranger Things".

This is basically a Twilight Zone / Hitchcock Presents / Outer Limits -type show. Some recurring actors, but no recurring characters.

The pilot is based on a short story by Scott Sigler (who is supposed to be someone famous).

Seems to be shot in central Florida for the most part.

The acting is weak and the production design is falls under 'found' locations, which is fine for the most part except for offices which look too pedestrian.

But they get big points for moxie. The ideas and tone of the show are endearing and it seems to be gaining popularity. I hope there's some business plan down the line because right now, I don't see how they're going to pay for the show (other than a donate PayPal button).

The greatest accomplishment so far is in episode 2B, where they manage to make an extended 1-2 minute computer interface sequence while scanning a blood sample actually compelling. So far, I'd say it's the best sequence in the show.

The episodes all seem to be padded to 30 minutes with a lot of circular dialogue (which doesn't make sense since even 30 minute tv shows aren't 30 minutes long). Some of the episodes would work better if they'd just cut them down.

Looking for a place to find Internet Serials

I'm interested in the blossoming world of internet serials (and review them whenever I feel like it). Just wanted a site to keep track of their locations and their progress.

So far there are very few I'd consider 'special'. But I'm sure there's going to be a surge in the next couple of years.