WEB ORIGINALS: SLACKER PI, THE BANNEN WAY
and ANGEL OF DEATH
Reviewed by MICHAEL SHONK


   Web series are stories shot on video or film to premiere on the Internet. Each episode is usually between five to ten minutes long. The story can be in serial form with the series forming one movie like story or as a series of stand alone adventures featuring a cast of the same characters.

   The form has attracted the attention of big name talent such as Lisa Kudrow (Web Therapy) and Felica Day (The Guild), cable networks such as IFC and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and studios such as Fox and Sony. Web series have made it to cable TV, released as movies, and released on DVD.

SLACKER PI

SLACKER, PI. 15 Gigs (division of Fox TV), 2009. Five stand alone series episodes. Written and Directed by Noel Shankel. Cast: Thomas Sigby (Bo), Tanner Thomason (Wyatt), Charlie Pecoraro (Derringer). available at Hulu.com and YouTube.com.

   Fox was looking for alternative ways of producing TV pilots for possible network TV series and turned to the web. Slacker, PI was made as a web series with viewers response aiding Fox decision to pick up or reject the possible TV series. While Slacker, PI never would have succeeded as a TV series, it is worth watching.

   Not unlike Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, fictional 1980s TV PI Derringer shows up and gives advice to two young losers. While the scenes featuring the losers are a waste of pixels, the Derringer scenes are not to be missed by any fan of 1980s TV PIs. There is even a music video tribute called “Too Deep.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuUHQu1aJUI

THE BANNEN WAY. Colton Productions. 2010. Sixteen episodes to be aired as a serial form series or as a movie. Written and Directed by Jesse Warren. Cast: Mark Gantt (Neal Bannen), Robert Forster (Mr. B), Vanessa Marcil (Madison), Michael Ironside (Chief Bannen). Available at Crackle.com, a website owned by Sony Pictures Television.

BANNEN WAY

   Neal is a criminal who wants to go straight, but he has some problems to deal with first. Besides his usual problems with smoking, gambling and women, Nick needs to find enough money, and keep it long enough, to pay off a debt to a gangster who is after him. Meanwhile, his Uncle and Mob boss wants him to stay in the business.

   Professionally produced, The Bannen Way is the ideal entertainment for those who like their movies with lots of crime, fast cars, and even faster women.

ANGEL OF DEATH. White Rock Lane. 2009. Ten episodes to be aired as a serial form series or as a movie. Created and Written by Ed Brubaker. Directed by Paul Etheredge. Cast: Zoë Bell (Eve), Lucy Lawless (Vera), Brian Poth (Graham). Available at Crackle.com and on DVD.

ANGEL OF DEATH

   Eve is the perfect assassin until a job goes wrong, a young girl is killed, and Eve ends up with a huge knife stuck in her head.

   Written by award winning writer of several graphic novels, Ed Brubaker (Incognito) and starring stuntwoman and actress Zoë Bell (Kill Bill, Game of Death), it should not surprise anyone that Angel of Death will appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino and gory noir comic books.

   The future for the web series is bright as the e-world of the Internet, conqueror of records and print, turns its attention to TV and movies. Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, and the rest of those streaming and downloading programs continue to grow in profits and popularity with viewers.

   The web program is no longer just about cute cats on YouTube. It is a format that offers independent producers and writers an opportunity to reach viewers, and a chance for viewers to experience different types of stories, stories and programs that might not appeal to the size of audience today’s television and movie markets demand.

   SOURCES:

  IMDb.com
  http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/12/15-gigs-online-pilots/
  http://mashable.com/2010/04/01/the-bannen-way