How many times have I averred on my own blog that the Internet is the TV of the future? Our Nerd Lord and Master Chris Hardwick has given similar advice to young folks on the Nerdist podcast: just do it. Nike knows what they’re doing with their slogan. Well my friends, the future is here, now.
Checked Out is a new webseries that is some of the best TV I have ever seen. It centers around a couple of slackers (and some of their co-workers) as they interact in the dingy-looking break room of a grocery store. Our main character actually looks as though he never leaves the break room (and probably doesn’t, judging from dialogue in later episodes). It’s stellar sketch comedy, in that it takes place in just that one little room, and all the hilarity and tension is all about the characters. We are introduced to the characters in Episode 1, and it only gets weirder and funnier as the episodes progress. Who knew customer service was so soul-sucking and weird? Actually *all* of us who have ever worked in customer service know…
1) It’s hilarious.
2) It is extremely well acted. By this I mean: the actors are all playing objectives, strongly, with no vestige of ironic postmodern winking at the audience. Every performance is earnest, precise, and gorgeous. I have a BFA in acting, I know what I’m talking about.
3) The characters! The one particular character flaw that made me laugh every time it appeared was the fact that the assistant manager is afraid of cardboard. I mean… What??! But it’s brilliant, and Mr. Gupta plays it so perfectly, I can’t. I just can’t. Watch it.
4) Look, I am running out of things to say. This is a wonderfully funny, extremely well done web series that you all must go watch, now. Below, embedded, is why.
5) I was going to bring this up as a negative, but now I think of it, it isn’t. Here’s my observation: Vicki Lewis’ character in this web series is exactly like her character Beth from Newsradio. But you know what? I can see that after that radio station closed, Beth may have had to get a job in a grocery store. So…it fits.
Bottom Line: This is your next comedy to watch regularly. Do it.
Okay, look: the stars of Checked Out are all recognizable from various other things. I’m not even going to bring their other credentials up. You know why? Because this is so awesome in its own right. You can see where you know them from online. All I am going to say is that it’s worth watching. More than that–I encourage you to watch. That is all.
Geek & Sundry Features Shows Starring Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, Paul & Storm, and also includes The Guild and the first Dark Horse Motion Comics
Fans delighted as show details are announced at a packed panel at WonderCon 2012
ANAHEIM, CA (WonderCon) – March 17, 2012 – Geek & Sundry, the highly-anticipated premium YouTube channel and company founded by Felicia Day and the producers of hit web series The Guild, today announced a lineup of six new original series premiering online starting April 2nd. The channel will present the very best of indie geek culture with shows exploring comedy, gaming, comics, music and literature that are sure to captivate audiences every week. Geek & Sundry will also provide a social destination and community for fans to connect online and offline about nerd culture worldwide (www.geekandsundry.com).
Alongside Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible, Eureka), Geek & Sundry will feature compelling original content by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory), Veronica Belmont & Tom Merritt (Sword & Laser) and Paul & Storm (w00tstock) as well as the hit web series The Guild, and the very first Dark Horse Motion Comics. The channel’s programming schedule:
The Flog (Premiering April 2nd, new episodes every Monday)
Join Geek Goddess Felicia Day in a whimsical vlog show, as she explores quirky new hobbies and shares experiences that connect her with her favorite people – her fans – in person as well as across the web.
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant, Sean Becker
Dark Horse Motion Comics (Premiering April 2nd, new episodes every Wednesday)
America’s largest indie comic-book publisher Dark Horse Comics brings some of their much-loved franchises such as Hellboy, The Goon and The Umbrella Academy onto the screen in a unique presentation for their web series. Combining never-before-seen motion graphic techniques and compelling storytelling, fans of these iconic characters will devour each episode.
Producer: Mike Richardson. Director: Eric Bruhwiler
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant
TableTop (Premiering April 2nd, new episodes every other Friday)
Think “Celebrity Poker” meets “Dinner for Five” and you’re ready to experience the quick-witted camaraderie that pairs notable celebs with must-play tabletop games. Hosted by actor, co-creator and fan favorite Wil Wheaton, this lively show brings together notable geek celebrities from Film, TV and YouTube to showcase the best in tabletop gaming from Settlers of Catan to card games like Fluxx and even RPGs like Dragon Age.
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant, Wil Wheaton
The Guild Season 5 (Airing April 10th, episodes every Tuesday)
The widely popular award-winning web series that’s topped 150 million views comes to YouTube! Chronicling the adventures of online gamers Cyd Sherman (Codex), Vincent Caso (Bladezz), Jeff Lewis (Vork), Amy Okuda (Tink), Sandeep Parikh (Zaboo) and Robin Thorsen (Clara), the fifth season follows the gang to a fan convention with new discoveries and celebrity encounters. Plus every Thursday check out never-before-seen behind the scenes content.
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey. Director: Sean Becker
Sword & Laser (Premiering April 13th, new episodes every other Friday)
Popular book club podcast, Sword & Laser, comes to life with an irreverent show hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The show features interviews with top authors, reviews of the hottest science fiction and fantasy books, discussion of the essential news of the week, and lots of participation from the vibrant Sword & Laser community.
Created by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant
Written By A Kid (Premiering July 18th, new episodes every Wednesday)
Original sci-fi, fantasy and horror stories by real kids are transformed into stunning shorts by some of today’s coolest directors. These original live-action and animated pieces truly capture the madness and magic of the 4-to-9-year old mindset.
Directors include Dane Boedigheimer (Annoying Orange), Rhett & Link (IFC’s Commercial Kings) and Daniel Strange (Between Two Ferns with Zach Galfianakis)
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant
Learning Town (Coming Fall 2012)
In this smart, offbeat musical, nerd music duo Paul & Storm blend vocal harmonies with comedic scenarios as they are tasked with reviving the flagging educational show of their childhoods. In the face of adversity from villainous hipsters, cantankerous ghosts and flammable puppets, Learning Town is one show that has to been seen to be believed.
Created by Paul & Storm and Josh Cagan.
Executive Producers: Felicia Day, Kim Evey, Sheri Bryant
“We’re so incredibly excited to produce and develop a channel based on what we think the fans will enjoy the most,” said Felicia Day. “From Dark Horse Comics to Wil Wheaton, we have amazing talent on screen and off, and I’m incredibly excited to build a community around these shows.”
Geek & Sundry launches April 2nd 2012 on YouTube, viewers can check out a teaser video and subscribe to the channel now at www.youtube.com/user/geekandsundry
About Geek & Sundry:
Premium YouTube channel Geek & Sundry features the best of indie geek culture and the internet’s foremost geek voices. Founded by the producers of the hit web series The Guild, Geek & Sundry offers a diverse lineup of shows that create a hub for fans of comedy, gaming, comics, music, and literature around the world. Spearheaded by prominent geek figureheads, Geek & Sundry features original content by Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible, Eureka), Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory), Veronica Belmont & Tom Merritt (Sword & Laser), Paul & Storm (w00tstock), and Dark Horse Comics. For more information, visit www.geekandsundry.com and watch us on YouTube at www.YouTube.com/GeekandSundry.
Last week we posted a press release announcing the release of the original musical, Sad Max, by Teague Chrystie and Jim Frommeyer. Sad Max tells the story of Max, a high-profile YouTube user, who finds himself alone in his basement post-apocalypse with not much to do other than finally write the musical he has been putting off all his life. The writer, director, editor and star of the film, Teague Chrystie, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his short.
Let’s get the ‘serious’ questions over with first. Where did this idea come from?
Well, it came from limitations, basically. I knew I wanted to do a musical, I knew I wanted to be the only person actually required for production, and I knew what I had – an apartment and a piano. From there I just started thinking about reasons for someone to never leave a particular place, and “trapped” came to mind, and the rest sort of filled itself in. I needed to be able to talk to the camera for some reason, so there was YouTube guy. About a minute later, it occurred to me there could be some fun social commentary in this, plus if the guy had been of a certain level of e-fame before the apocalypse, perhaps the e-fame was for his song tutorials and covers. If that’s the case, he can even explain how musicals work. There was a lot of fun stuff to play with.
How long did this film take (from pre-production to now)?
A month or so of writing and fiddling with it on paper, at which point I busted out my crappy Flip cam and filmed the entire thing through as written and assembled it. Shooting the whole movie before the actual shoot is not something you get to do on most projects, but since this one was designed to just be me, it really wasn’t that painful. Knocked it out in a night. This gave me the ability to move out of the abstract world of screenwriting early, and into “okay, what does this thing actually LOOK like, what are the weak points, where does it drag, what do I need to add to make it work?” After some more tweaks to the script with that in mind, and writing another song and losing a previous song, I was ready to shoot for real. I shoot for real. Then, two months and a whole beard later, I get some reshoots. Then I edit, and release. I think it was about five months start to finish.
What was the most difficult song to write? Which one took the longest?
Hm. Depends on how you look at it. The last song in the movie might win for both of those, simply because I re-wrote the song entirely twice, and went through a bunch of sub-variations between. It was hard in the sense that it was tricky to get right. The one that was the most difficult to wrap my head around was A Level Incomplete, the song he sings about never having been in love. That one was tricky just because it’s a fine line to walk between maudlin and completely relatable. Also, the most-time-spent-on-a-single-line happened with that one, I spent most of a day trying to figure out how to get into the song at all. “Ever get the feeling that your heart’s no good?” Bingo. Took forever, but I love that line.
Now to the more important questions. How is Gary doing?
Oh, you know. Hanging out. Being a fish. Like one does.
I’m kind of bummed that we never actually saw Gary. What kind of fish is/was Gary?
I was imagining – yes, imagining, Gary never existed, sorry folks – one of those orange and pearl speckled goldfish with the buggy eyes. Then again, he might have been a manta ray.
Doritos, huh? Out of all of the potential preservative-laden foods, why Doritos?
It was one of those things where I was writing at a mile a minute and when I looked up I had written some shit about Doritos and I was like “alright” and I never looked back. (This sentence written without punctuation to induce a sense of whirlwindery. LITERATURE.) I do wish I had picked a different food, though, because doing a bunch of takes where I devour Doritos on camera was not healthy, nor particularly enjoyable, after the first family-sized bag was emptied.
Do you think there might have been a Mrs. Max out there? If so, what do you think she’s up to?
I don’t think Max was the only survivor, so there’s probably someone else out there that he’d have a shot with. I don’t know what she’d be up to, though. Maybe she’s using this opportunity to make the one *puppet* she never had the chance to make before, and they’d be a match made in Muppet heaven.
Finally, obviously a sequel is out of the works, but how about a prequel?
I do like the idea of a prequel showing Max doing his thing before the world ended, but I don’t think there’s as much to say there. So. I dunno.
Any other bits of information that we should know? Perhaps where we can find Max’s sheet music?
Yeah! There’s piano tutorials, YouTube style, for every song in the show. You can find them at SadMaxMusical.com. I thought it’d be cool as a sort of overture to have YouTube piano tutorials for every song in my musical about a guy who did YouTube piano tutorials for songs in a previous life. I also just like the idea of it, as I talk about in the beginning of this first tutorial in the series, for “The Internet Song.”
Anyway. Sad Max was really difficult for me and I’m overwhelmed with the positivity surrounding its release, and hopefully the folks reading this tell me what they think of it either on Twitter (@TeagueChrystie) or in my email, which is listed in the credits. Plus every little bit of word-of-mouth helps.
Los Angeles, California – (March 18th, 2012)
Teague Chrystie and Jim Frommeyer (“A Very Calvin and Hobbes Christmas”) are proud to announce the official release of their 28-minute original musical, “Sad Max.” Written, directed, edited and performed by Chrystie, host of the popular film commentary podcast “Down in Front” in his first-ever acting performance, and produced by Frommeyer, “Sad Max” is the kind of project that could only happen in the age of YouTube. The musical is about a YouTube celebrity who was famous for his piano tutorials, and the musical itself is accompanied by actual YouTube piano tutorials for every song in the show. The film, the soundtrack and the tutorials are all available for free on YouTube and SadMaxMusical.com, making this project a celebration of all the things modern internet video can be.
Before the world ended, Max (Chrystie), was a pretty high-profile YouTube user, posting tutorials and cover songs on his channel and struggling with his inability to write music he liked. After the apocalypse, he is trapped in his basement without food, water, an internet connection or an audience; all he has is a pet fish, a camera, and a piano. To stave off madness and crippling existential crisis, he spends his last days doing the one thing he had never been able to do before: writing a musical that he can be proud of.
To view the film, visit SadMaxMusical.com, or http://www.youtube.com/
For poster assets and film screenshots, visit: http://www.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Teague Chrystie is a visual FX artist (“The Pacific,” “Fringe,” “Battlestar Galactica: Razor”) and the host of the film commentary podcast Down in Front (www.downinfront.net). Sad Max is his acting debut. He wrote the script as well as the music and lyrics for Sad Max, as well as did his own makeup and grew a beard (twice!) to realize the character on his long journey into starvation and madness.
Jim Frommeyer is a director and producer, and is known most notably for directing “A Very Calvin and Hobbes Christmas“, the short film, produced by Chrystie, that swept through the blogosphere in winter of 2011.
There is one new web series you should check out in the New Year: Standard Action. It’s based on Dungeons and Dragons and other fantasy RPGs, but incorporates all kinds of pop culture. In D&D terms a “standard action” is an action that allows you to do something, i.e. attack or cast a spell. Standard Action was created by Joanna Gaskall and is shot in Vancouver. It has a small main cast, with many guest actors as the series goes on.
The cast stars Joanna Gaskall as Edda, an Elven Barbarian, Daniel Johnston as Martin, a Druid allergic to trees and who won’t heal, Edwin Perez as Fernando, an eternally optimistic half-Halfling Bard, and Tara Pratt as Wendy who prefers to be called Gwenevere and is more concerned with her looks and reputation than most other things. The series’ first four episodes are to introduce the characters to the viewers and to each other. The show then moves onto a quest to save Wendy’s and Fernando’s friends which morphs into saving the area.
Standard Action has 13 episodes (plus episode 6.5), which are all short and easily watchable in one day. The production value of the episodes are excellent. Everything from the costumes, makeup and setting are very well put together and believable. The writing is some of the funniest I’ve heard in a long time, web series or not. The dialogue is snappy and clever. There are many references to D&D, modern music, and more. If you don’t play D&D or any other type of fantasy RPGs, then some of the jokes might not make sense to you, but I don’t think that will detract from any enjoyment of the show. Each of the characters has a distinctive voice, all the while mocking (in a lovingly way) the tropes of their characters.
Speaking of characters, for a short web series the characters start off well developed and continue to evolve as the show goes on. They don’t get along at first and fumble their way through to the end, but at the end the group comes together to defeat the villain.
There were a few issues I had. First, in a few episodes the visual (mouth movements and prop sounds) didn’t match up to the audio. Secondly, I had some video stuttering where the audio kept going while the visuals were frozen. However, I am willing to blame those two things on Youtube, my internet connection, and my choice in watching it in 1080p. Perhaps with a better connection or a smaller size, those issues would not occur. My other minor problems was that sometimes the actor’s dialogue was hard to hear and the music got a little loud. Those are minor like I said and can be overlooked.
If you’d like to watch Standard Action you can watch it at the website http://watchstandardaction.com/ (which is linked above as well) which links to the videos at Youtube. Here’s the first episode to see if you want to watch the show:
Did you see this today on i09?? Gooooooo Science! ~Prof. Jenn
What could be nerdier than combining Star Trek and the Monty Python?
and a thanks to jacob s. for the heads up.
I felt the need to make such a ridiculously obvious fangirl title for this post because if I had named it after the actual video people might not give it a chance. I swear, it is not what you think it is.
I’m sure a lot of you hardcore Supernatural fans have already found this gem (or at least if you follow Misha Collins on twitter you have) but when I discovered it the other night it pretty much kept me giggling for hours. And then I re-watched it and it became a guffaw. If you don’t follow him on twitter already you need to get on the bandwagon: @mishacollins.
In the spirit of Halloween I thought I would share this awesome tutorial… It is about the unzipped look from Mac a few years ago. Enjoy!
Jess D. (1/2 of Hooked On Veg)
Come on a Veg-tastic Voyage with us!
During my commute to work in the morning, I find myself lost in my own imagination. This morning I spotted the funniest thing I had seen in quite some time. A candidate for something or other had printed up slightly shorter pictures of himself as a cardboard cut out.
The only thing it made me want to do was steal it… and do this.