A new year is a upon us here at The Indienet and Beyond, which means it is time to look back at 2011 and spotlight the best of the best of web series for the year.
Now with a disclaimer… holy NSFW! We thought last year was a great year, but this year had a jump not only in the quantity, but also in the quality in web series. This made narrowing the list down to 10 extremely difficult, forcing us to make some painful decisions. Even with our focus on scifi/fantasy/horror themes, it was a challenge to pick just 10.
In case you missed it last year, here is the break down of the top ten last year. You can also click links to read interviews with the creators.
Some of these could still qualify for 2011 because they had new episodes in that year, so that only added to difficulty. And let us know if you think we missed any web series. We are always looking for new shows to add to our viewing schedule. So without further ado…. here are the Top Ten Web Series picks for 2011 chosen by The IndieNet and Beyond.
#10 – Vampire Mob
Joe Wilson’s Vampire Mob has a talented cast that brings to life this Soprano’s-meets-vampires comedy, with language that will make your momma blush.
Wilson described his show to us as… “a hitman, who is also a vampire, that just found out his mother-in-law is moving in for eternity.”
The show, which just wrapped season two, is a low-budget production with documentary style cinematography, which works well because of the great scripts and a cast of actors that probably look familiar if you watch any TV. John Colella (CSI: NY, The West Wing) plays the vampire hitman lead. He is joined by Rae Allen (The Sopranos, Seinfeld), Retta Sirleaf (Parks and Recreation), Reamy Hall (Criminal Minds, General Hospital), Marcia Wallace (The Simpsons, The Bob Newhart Show), Chris Mulkey (Twin Peaks, Friday Night Lights) and Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds).
#9 – Dragon Age: Redemption
The world of a popular fantasy video game brought to life as a live-action web series, starring Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) and Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth )… need I say more. An entertaining web series that has fun performances, costumes, and action.
#8 – Blood and Bone China
I know, I know… another vampire web series. Don’t worry, they won’t all be vamp shows. This fang filled fun victorian era vampire web series has a modern feel to it. It has one of my favorite opening credits with the song “Goodbye Happiness’” performed by Midlands based Steampunk band Birthrite. The UK series started strong and kept us entertained for all 12 episodes with performances by Anthony Miles, Rachel Shenton, and the rest of the cast. This web series is created and directed by award winning film-maker Chris Stone and set in his home town of Stoke-On-Trent.
#7 – Mercury Men
Writer and director Christopher Preksta’s Mercury Men is a black and white scifi serial web series that was shot in Pittsburgh and premiered on the SyFy website. Although it was streamed off of the SyFy website, Preksta directed it himself, with nothing but a modest budget, willingness to learn how to do visual effects, and a love of rayguns.
It’s a throwback to the old retro serials of ’30s and ’40s, which actually takes place in 1975. Aliens from Mercury are up to something sinister in a lifeless office building in Pittsburgh. Earth’s only hope is an office drone and an aviator with a ray gun.
#6 – Mortal Kombat: Legacy
Avid Mortal Kombat fans were thrilled to watch this web series based on the video game. The story of this web series began when director Kevin Tancharoen made his short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. Tancharoen was hoping his gritty take on Mortal Kombat would get a green light by Warner Bros for a feature film…. it didn’t, but it did give him a green light for this web series. It was so popular that now Warner Bros is willing to give Tancharoen his feature film after all.
Although the series backed off the more realistic elements of the short film, it did keep the gritty feel and starred genre fan favorites like Michael Jai White (Spawn), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager, Leverage), Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse), and Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary, Riese).
#5 – Pioneer One
This web series returns to the top ten after more excellent episodes that wrapped season one. This show breaks a lot of rules: longer format (30+ minute episodes), 100% funding from fans, and a peer-to-peer release method (via VODO); but it has all worked for this show with great success.
Pioneer One has an intriguing plot that is as much West Wing as it is X-Files.
“Everything begins when an old Soviet space capsule falls out of the sky and a man is found inside,” writer and co-creator Bernhard said, describing the series premise to us. “A man who claims to have been born on Mars to two Soviet cosmonauts in the 1980s. And the series deals with the political and social fallout of that, whether it’s true or not.”
#4 – The LXD
The LXD (The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) is the brainchild of writer/director Jon Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets,Step Up 3D) and follows a group of dancers who are masters of a particular form of dance and can manipulate their Ra (similar to concepts of Chi, Ki, Prana, etc.) to accomplish great feats.
Season three explored the back story of how the LXD was formed and how the Alliance of the Dark was created.
There are few web series, TV shows, or movies that can touch The LXD in cinematography and music. The beautifully crafted dance scenes are tied together by a very original concept, creating a stunning series unlike any other. The series spotlights a wide range of dance styles: Tricking, Popping, Hip-Hop, Krumping, Tap Dancing, B-boying, Roboting, Ballet, etc.
The LXD is a perfect example of a story concept that would never have made the cut in the traditional system of movies and TV, but thrives on the Internet.
#3 – RCVR
This show quickly awoke the dormant X-Files fan in me. It is it’s own unique show, with a plot that follows RCVR hunters, agents that track down individuals who possess valuable information channeled to them by extraterrestrial life-forms.
With an intriguing story, great acting, and excellent cinematography, RCVR is a solid show that I wish was on primetime TV so I could see a 20 episode hour long series, rather than the all too short 46 minute season one released on Machinima.
Speaking of Machinima, they also released last years top ten winner Bite Me, plus this year’s winner Mortal Kombat: Legacy. I don’t know why they decided to switch to live-action web series, but I hope they keep it up.
#2 – Black Box TV Presents
Why oh why don’t we have an anthology on TV like Twilight Zone or Outer Limits? Oh wait, never mind, I’ll just go online to get my horror/scifi anthology fix with writer & director Tony E. Valenzuela’s Black Box TV Presents. The series has been a hit on YouTube. The anthology series combines compact storytelling, eye-catching cinematography, and well paced music with twists that often pull at our primal fear of–or fundamental desire to explore–the unknown.
#1 – Aidan 5
This scifi/noir web series, which is filmed 100% green screen, comes from Columbus, Ohio and has been slowly getting the attention it deserves.
Aidan 5 started as an award-winning 48-hr film festival short. It’s a no-budget, sci-fi/noir web series made solely with an all-volunteer cast & crew under extreme time restrictions, but it doesn’t show.
The year is 2064, we follow a detective who must unravel the mystery behind the killings of his own clones. The 16-episode season one gave us a living comic book of the future with a unique style of filmmaking and sketched art for the environment that the actors interacted in. It was ambitious and it worked. Currently there are talks of a season 2 and 3.
Now, I’m not trying to be nice when I say it was tough. A few picks from last year could have easily made the list and it was an extremely tough choice. So who are the runners ups? I’m glad you asked: Western X, Vampire Zombie Werewolf, Suck and Moan, Divine: The Series, Osiris: The Series, Haywire, Transolar Galactica, Tyranny, Border Guardians of Ackernon, Brothers Barbarian, Spellfury, and Standard Action.
I’m not kidding when I say the amount of quality web series had more than doubled for 2011. And with new seasons of many of the winning shows and runner-ups in the works, plus highly anticipated projects like H+, JourneyQuest season 2, and so many more, it is safe to say that web series… webisodes… web television… independent television… however the heck you want to label it, is growing quickly.
I’m proud to be a part of this new frontier with the highly anticipated scifi web series Reality on Demand. It is the web series I directed, co-wrote, and co-produced that will be premiering in late January 2012. Ok… maybe highly anticipated is an exaggeration, but I am highly anticipating showing it to all of you. Plus I’ll be co-directing and co-producing another new web series called Book of Dallas. That web series will have a completely different tone with a slightly more controversial topic.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever? Then I want to know about it. Contact me at: [email protected]
That’s a wrap for now. Join me in 2012 for more news and interviews coming to a web site near you. Take care my virtual friends. Until next time… marX out.
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Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
- The IndieNet and Beyond – Top Ten Web Series of 2010
- IndieNet and Beyond Tunes Into ‘BlackBoxTV’
- IndieNet and Beyond Investigates ‘Pioneer One’
- The IndieNet and Beyond Joins The ‘Vampire Mob’
- IndieNet and Beyond Turns Into A ‘Vampire Zombie Werewolf’
Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in post-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.
Julie Seaton Pyle was born and raised in Indiana, where she attended the University of Southern Indiana. She majored in Print Journalism/Computer Publishing, while also dabbling in creative writing, literature and languages. This is also where she met Marx, the man with whom she would take the plunge into marriage and, years later, into another passion: filmmaking. She is co-producer, co-writer, and lead actress in the scifi web series Reality On Demand.