Over the past few months, some very intriguing science fiction and horror web series with high production values and mind-bending mysteries at their core have hit the web, seeking out a new audience that doesn't just want comedy 24/7. Other genres have been sorely misrepresented, mainly because it's been hard to make drama (or non-comedy) series seem legitimate on the Internet. There is a certain, instant, suspicion to a dramatic web series, the feeling that this wasn't good enough to get on TV has been stymieing the growth of the non-comedy genres.
The Booth at the End: Thoughtful Science Fiction Drama at Its Best
What we've seen in the past few months has been encouraging, however, particularly in the realm of science fiction/horror. It looks like the influence of Lost, which has inspired several serial TV shows, many of which have failed, is now finding a natural home on the web. Lost's reach included the Internet, and the creators of that show used it to the fullest extent to expand their universe. So it's no surprise that thoughtful sci-fi/horror is making it onto the web and has found a home.
This past summer, we saw the incredible debut season of The Booth at the End on Hulu. It had a few recognizable faces, especially long-time character actor Xander Berkeley, who filled the role of the mysterious Man, who offered people their utmost desires as long as they were willing to do some unusual dirty work that seems entirely unrelated to the wish. As the series unfolded, we got tiny glimpses into The Man, who never speaks about himself, through the contradictions we were privy to hear as each new person asked for something. What made it even more titillating to watch was a particular set of circumstances where one man's task was in direct conflict with another man's task.
The show all takes place in a diner, in this one booth, and it's all conversation. Yet, it's still thrilling, and the slightest bits of information we get about The Man and his methods, we wonder how much conflict boils inside of him. At first glance, we don't even know if he's human or not. How is he able to promise things from seemingly non-sequitur tasks, and those wishes come true without his apparent involvement? A season 2 apparently has been pitched and planned, but knowing web series, we won't know anything about it for awhile.
RCVR Looks to The X-Files and Lost for Inspiration
Recently, one of YouTube's top channels, Machinima, introduced a new X-Files-inspired, Lost-marketing web series called RCVR. The first episode is currently hovering around a million views, and they just released two new episodes. The third episode, in particular, is pretty phenomenal, raising very interesting questions, and here we are, it's already halfway through its season!
Here's the trailer for RCVR:
RCVR has been running "seed" websites like Lost did to add to the mystery. It's all about conspiracy and "finding the truth" and so on. Creator David Van Eyssen looks very committed to this project, and it looks like they hope to get a lot of favorites, likes, and comments to get a season 2 rolling.
Mark Cuban and HDNet Picks Up The Vault, Extremely Inspired By Lost
Another series, right from the pages of the underground bunker and the button-pressing task in Lost, is The Vault, a new series picked up by Mark Cuban and HDNet. The Vault has that great, almost amnesia-like premise, where people who have agreed to be on some sort of game show "wake up" and find themselves in a room, with no explanation. There's one guy who has a headset who can apparently talk to everyone in the vault, but there's 150 different rooms, all with people who have at least one object, but with no way of knowing why it's there. It's like Myst meets Lost, and maybe a little Running Man thrown in. The more and more that is uncovered, the more you think this is a sick joke or a deadly trap for college students.
There are two episodes on YouTube right now, and episode 3 is set for an October release date, as the money has come in for creators Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione. This is exactly the kind of support a web series needs, a tremendously able financial backer like Cuban. Much like The Booth at the End, the show is shot in one location (Miscione's living room, which has been converted to look like a scene from 2001), very simple, but highly intriguing.
Ted Raimi's Morbid Minutes Evokes Twilight Zone And His Brother Sam
There's one more series I want to bring up, a nice quick-hit horror series from Sam Raimi's brother Ted called Morbid Minutes, showing exclusively on Break.com. Raimi is looking for an Alfred Hitchcock Presents, or Twilight Zone, feel for the series. There have only been a handful of episodes, but Raimi is shooting for 10-12 for the entire first season. It has aspects of dark humor and horror mixed, something Sam Raimi has done for a long time and is continuing with his brother for this series. My favorite one so far is the one called "Tie Game".
Here's Raimi talking about the series:
These are exciting additions to the usual programming we see on the Internet. I believe it's a sign of things to come, and it's only going to get better.