Web Series of the Week: Raindance Web Fest Top 12 (Part 2)
Ivan Radford | On 23, Oct 2015
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a month since Raindance Web Fest – and so, before we begin our weekly web series feature proper, and as Vid Fest returns at London Comic Con this weekend, we present part two of our Top 12 web series from last month’s festival. Starting next Wednesday, we’ll be singling out one web series each week for review. We call it Web Series of the Week.
7. Tales From Tinder
Tinder is everywhere these days. More specifically, it’s in people’s hands as they swipe left and right in the hope of a sweet date – or a hot hook-up. Tales from Tinder, which brings a string of true stories to the screen, may sound a little close to the bone, or even awkward, but Emma Watts’ show has an inspired twist up its sleeve: the whole thing is done with puppets.
With the helping hands of Mischa Long and Lachlan McLeod, it’s a novel device for a dating show, one that allows things to be detached enough to be hilarious, but also to highlight the weird or downright gross depths to which us non-puppety humans will sink while on the singleton circuit. In short, it’s Tinder. With puppets. We’ve already swipe right.
8. Manic Pixie Dream Wife
Is there a worse trope in cinema these days than the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? The term, first coined by a reviewer in response to the film Elizabethtown, refers to a woman with no actual character or substance, except as an offbeat figure who exists solely to teach the brooding, lonely protagonist (usually a writer) an important lesson about life.
While several films and other work have strove to undermine, subvert and otherwise dismantle the cliche, few do it better than this delightfully smart web series, which follows a software programmer who has married Simone, a manic pixie. He tries to get on with life, as she burns things in the kitchen and wakes him up at the break of day and to go and look at the sunrise. Perspectives and personality are examined, as the question of who’s playing what role becomes the focus, with Amy Danneker as the lead female bringing laughs – each one with a point to go with it.
Ashbeclee does exactly what it says on the tin: it follows three twenty-something girls called Ash, Bec and Lee, who are struggling to get through their respective mid-life crises in Perth. The actresses, Emily Rose Brennan, Sarah Danze and Adriane Daff, click easily together, with the kind of natural dialogue that flows like normal conversation rather than scripted speech. It’s a treat to see a show led by women in which they’re allowed to take centre stage and be funny – the fact that they can be serious too is a bonus. One stand-out scene in a shop, in which one of the trio argues with an old classmate over the last remaining waistcoats, is as awkward as it is amusing.
10. Nikola Tesla and the End of the World
If down-to-earth comedy is winning the web this year, there should also be room made for this superb piece of fantastical sci-fi. The show follows a young physicist who, after discovering plans for a Tesla machine, builds – only to bring Nikola through time to the modern day. Add a threat to the human race’s existence and you have the makings of an entertainingly ambitious – and inspiringly imaginative – show.
11. Life in Your Social Network
What if life was like your social media account? It’s a pitch that may sound obvious, but proves to be perfectly well observed, as the series lines up every possible online stereotype as you could think of for comic effect. People harass one partygoer who is attempting to connect with a woman he doesn’t know – all the while, Gillbert Gottfried pops up delivering his infamous reading of 50 Shades of Gray as his loudest, most grating volume. You’ll be hard pushed to stop giggling.
One day, everyone vanishes. The Rapture is, let’s face it, a scary prospect, whether you believe in it or not. HBO’s The Leftovers has more than proven that there’s mileage in a show examining the fallout of such an event. Rapt stands up well to the big boys, setting its drama in Dublin, where a woman wakes up to find the people around her have disappeared.
Written by John Doyle and directed by Kieron J Walsh, the five-episode season is an excellent piece of work-building – at no point do you question whether this would actually happen – and is full of the kind of mystery that makes you want to keep watching.
For more web series recommendations, see the first part of our Raindance Top 12.