Other Space

It takes a lot to think of something new to do within science fiction, but that doesn’t mean the old tropes have been exhausted. Other Space owes influences to many of the shows on this list of the 50 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows, but manages to find a unique voice of its own. In fact, it proves you don’t need a big name star or even explosions to succeed — although the name Paul Feig probably doesn’t hurt — he created, directed and produced it.other_space

Opening titles tell us that a “multi-national corporate coalition” was formed in the mid-21s century to map the cosmos, and that we’ll be following the adventures of a ship that went missing in 2105. We’re then thrown into action on the bridge of a spaceship, which could be any spaceship on any show. People are frantically shouting for the captain to make a judgment call when he enters with a tray full of hotdogs to share. It’s a ham-handed joke, but tells us all we need to know about central character Stewart.(Karan Soni). Crew morale is his utmost priority and his aw-shucks need to be liked will always trump his professional obligations. And that’s okay, because he’s just passed this simulation (we knew it was a simulation) with flying colors. Continue reading

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Everything but the News

Everything but the NewsI heard about Everything but the News on NPR. Public radio pushing public television; if they’re going for meta, they’re finding it. I don’t even know how to categorize this show, and to me, that’s always a good thing.

The pilot episode opens with a news anchor telling us that we’re going to hear a report from inside the world of online video, before flashing back 72 hours. A reporter, Steve Goldbloom, stands outside LAX, getting reamed over the phone by his producer. My first thought is, “Man, that producer’s a real dick.” He promises that if Steve and camera man, Noah, prove themselves at VidCon, PBS will offer him steady work. (My second thought is, “Why did they fly into LAX for a convention in Anaheim? SNA would have been closer.”)

Continue reading

The Booth at the End

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There isn’t much to explain about the premise of The Booth at the End. A weird, nameless dude sits in a booth — at the end — in a diner and gives people cryptic assignments to complete in order to obtain things they want. It’s like The Wizard telling Dorothy to kill the witch, whom she’s never met and has no beef with, in order to go home.

Booth is a Hulu original series, but the episodes run the length of an ordinary televised show. That’s probably a bit long for a series of basically all bottle episodes. Continue reading

Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time

“This is the best show I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” is what Abed said when he saw his first thirty seconds of Inspector Spacetime. If he was impressed with that, he should see Travis Richey’s Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. For starters, the production values are much better. And if you think that the low production values are what gives Inspector Spacetime its charm, don’t worry — you won’t be starved for camp. Continue reading

Shelf Life

I’ve been hearing about the web series Shelf Life* for a while now at cons and such and keep meaning to check it out — already, it’s in its third season. Thank you to AProblemShared for blogging about the show and thus reminding me!

Shelf Life opens with a catchy speed metal theme song as we fly in through a window to a child’s bedroom and four superhero figures standing on a shelf. For a split second you could almost mistake this for animation, and when the characters first start to speak you hardly see the mouths move. But when their owner leaves the room, the action starts. Continue reading

Battleground

UPDATE: 7/22/12 I wrote the analysis below having only watched the first episode of Battleground. I don’t usually approach these posts as recommendations for or against watching a show. Having now completed the first season, I say “Watch it. Watch it now.” This is one of those shows that the pilot does not do justice to until you can appreciate it as part of the larger picture.

For example, some of the stuff that makes you scratch your head in the pilot (like just when are these interviews supposed to have been recorded, and what the hell is Cole wearing?) are ambiguous on purpose. The final episode has me dying for season 2.

 

If you happened upon the pilot episode of Battleground, you might think you were watching a documentary. For a few minutes at least, Battleground defies the obvious comparisons to Parks and Recreation or The Office. As mockumentaries go, this one opens on a more serious note. There is a film-like look about it. Amber waves of grain and small hometown businesses flavor the opening credits. It’s a bit like the tour of Scranton that opens The Office, but without the underlying sense of sarcasm. Then… we meet Jordan T. Mosley, the show’s Dwight Schrute. But I’ll come back to him. Continue reading

Abed’s Master Key

In case we weren’t already excited enough about the return of Community on March 15, the fine folks at NBC have decided to whet our whistle with some animated shorts. The obvious question: Why didn’t they think of this a long time ago? That animated holiday special in 2010 (has it been that long?) rocked.

The pilot episode of Abed’s Master Key is only a precious minute and 56 seconds long, but to fans so long deprived of a meal, these are succulent little crumbs. The episode just gives us a quick look at all of the main characters–the study group and Dean Pelton–hanging out in their usual spot, the study room that has seen everything from a zombie uprising to some Jeff-Britta coitus. Continue reading

The Writers Room

I thought a post on the original Crackle series The Writers Room would be a nice complement to my last post on 30 Rock. The Writers Room, which debuted in 2008 is what you would get if you distilled 30 Rock down to just the scenes in the writer’s room and shot it with a handheld camera. And took out all the humor. No, I’m kidding. Sort of. But there is an episode of Louie, where a group of writers has been gathered to doctor a screenplay, which packs more humor into 2-3 minutes that this web show exhibits in its whole pilot. I’m sure that its writers would say that’s because I just don’t get it.

The scribes of the web series work for a sketch comedy show hosted by Kevin Pollack (as himself). You may not know the name Kevin Pollack, but you’ve seen him. See? An interesting twist of this is that all of the writers play themselves. Continue reading

Bloomers

Bloomers is a web series, set in contemporary L.A., which debuted a couple of weeks ago. You can watch the episodes that have aired thus far here.

The pilot introduces all seven members of the ensemble cast, though the one we get to know best is Francesca (Fernanda Espindola), a fashion designer. Fancesca comes off like an uber-bitch, but we’re able to forgive her in short order when we learn she’s not feeling so well. Her mid-day barf break ends with her hand resting on her lower abdomen–TV shorthand for “Oh shit, I’m pregnant.” Continue reading

Husbands, the Series

Husbands, the Series premiered via UStream tonight at 6:30 PST. “Why now?” co-writer and star Cheeks was asked. “Why not?” he replied.

Whether or not you think the world is ready for a series starring a gay married couple, it is here. And when you think about it, it’s kind of hard to believe it hasn’t been done before. Prior to the premiere, Executive Producer Jane Espenson, a woman with serious geek cred (Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Warehouse 13, Battlestar Galactica…), and stars Cheeks and Sean Hemeon, gave a little sneak-peek. They discussed what prompted Espenson to create this show, on her own dime, for the web. In a nutshell, she felt that this show needed to exist, and the web gave her the right outlet for it. “If Joss hadn’t done [Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog], I wouldn’t have done this,” she said.

The looming question was, is it funny? The pilot, titled Waking Up in Vegas, runs just a minute and a half and, like most webisodes is basically one joke. It opens with the characters, Cheeks and Brady, accompanied by bestie Haley (Alessandra Torresani) talking about their recent secret wedding. They kept it quiet because, we learn, Cheeks is a famous actor while Brady is a professional baseball player. Then we flash back four days to Las Vegas, just following the legalization of gay marriage, and we learn how the blessed union came to be.

The characters live up to a lot of stereotypes in this little snapshot. But it’s interesting that Brady is a professional athlete, an area where, unlike in Hollywood, being gay is still probably taboo. (If you’ve ever seen the hilarious play Take Me Out by Richard Greenberg, you know the potential of this subject matter.) And this is clearly just an introduction. There aren’t any big surprises but it sets us up for situations relate-able to any married couple, as well as those unique to gay men.

My favorite exchange is when Cheeks asks, “Do you have batting rehearsal?” to which Brady replies sweetly, “We call it practice.” So yes, it was funny, as well as quirky and colorful. I look forward to seeing where it goes. We don’t have to wait long. Episode 2 debuts on Thursday.

I saved the best part for last. Nathan Fillion is going to appear on the show!!!