Posted by: wolferiver | November 27, 2007

Webisode: Part Quatre

Someone put me on to Afterworld, another series of webisodes. This one is a stand alone scifi series, not tied into any pre-existing TV show or movie. New episodes get posted fairly frequently, and by now there are quite a number of them up. Naturally, I was interested in them, and started watching.

After watching about 20 episodes, I got a little curious about what and who were behind this, as the webisodes are clearly a cut above most “home made” webisodes, and has 130 episodes (which, at 2-1/2 minutes per episode, adds up to something like 5 hours of programming). The series also has an extensive list of credits. So I did some googling about it. I found this blog post explaining something about this. Note that SciFi channel in is supposed to be also airing the show. What’s also interesting is how it was financed, and how the producers expect to make money on it. I see according to yet another blog, BudTV is also some sort of sponsor, or maybe a financial backer. (Um…that’s BudTV as in Anheiser-BuschTV.) Note, too, that this is a product of Hollywood establishment figures. Both the producer and the writer have some IMDB credits for some broadcast network shows.

I think the series works okay on the web, as something to watch on your computer screen, but it would wear out its welcome if I were to watch this as a regular series of, oh, say, 1/2 hour episodes. (That would be about 10 of these webisodes strung together, or one chapter from the web series.) Probably because I’m verging on being an Old Geezer, I must say that I’ve seen apocalyptic tales many times before, and this story doesn’t seem all that earth shattering to me.

Also, while the artwork is impressive, the show amounts to little more than a series of slideshows, with a voice-over narration, and some additional character voices. The action sequences in particular are a little awkwardly done. Just how many pensive musings of the main character can we watch before it gets a little boring? As a comparison, take a look at the Ninjai series, which has equally impressive artwork, and does a slightly (but only just slightly) better job at the animation. That series is better at showing the expressiveness of the characters.

At times like these I remember the one and only film class that I ever took, way back in junior high, where it was pointed out to us that the entire point of movies is that they present us with MOVING PICTURES. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then action in front of our eyes is worth ten times that many words. Whether it is a series of emotions that wash over a character’s face, or a swift uppercut delivered to the jaw, or an avalanche descending upon a scene, all of these tell us about a series of events more quickly and thoroughly than words would. As I watched these episodes I thought that I might as well be listening to a radio play, or watching a slide show, or reading a comic book. Almost all of these would be an equally valid way to tell the story presented in these webisodes, with the latter having the advantage of allowing me to move through the story at my own pace, rather than being locked into the glacial pace of the webcast.

(Ah! But these are webisodes on the internet! Oooh, how shiny!)

As a certified Old Geezer, I can tell you that there have been far more exciting apocalypse stories put before these wrinkled old eyes:

The ultimate kick-ass apocalypse story, though, is Road Warrior, which keeps you on the edge of your seat, and makes you think as well. My brother uses this movie as an illustration of Hobbesian philosophy in the college freshman philosophy class that he teaches.

Oh, and let’s not forget The Day After Tomorrow, The Day After, or this minor cult classic, A Boy And His Dog.

All of this is to say that for an exploration of an apocalyptical event, there are better resources, and more interesting tales to watch — and all currently available on DVD. (You won’t have to find an old movie projector and send away from some ancient old 8 mm print, or wait until some late night showing on Ned The Dead’s Chiller Theater to see these.) Some of these may be old, but none of them are boring. However, it is interesting to see the Afterworld series as an exercise in the development of the phenomena of webisodes, and also as a prelude of what to (or not to) look for in the upcoming Farscape webisodes.

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