The New Year is almost here, so what better time is there to take a look back at some of the best scifi-related web series 2010 gave us. Plus, new web series episodes to take us into 2011. It is even more fitting that we take a look at the top ten now, because this is actually the 10th installment of “The IndieNet and Beyond.”
I want to start this with a disclaimer: the year of 2010 has given us such a wide range of web series as the concept of the web original grows, that it was tough nailing down just 10. In fact, I could have easily made this list 20, just with scifi/fantasy/horror themes. They are only roughly in any particular order, and there are plenty of shows that almost made this list. But I stuck with ten, since people tend to like top ten lists better than top twenty lists. (Who knew?)
# 0 – The Guild
What? You expected me to start with number 10 or number 1, or for there to actually be ten in the top ten? Bah, that is such “inside-the-box” thinking and web series are all about “out-of-the-box” thinking. This category is for that geek favorite that really isn’t scifi, but is just too darn cool not to mention.
It didn’t take long to pick this one. A group of online gamers band together to deal with offline problems. Gasp… there is a world offline? Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has created a hilarious comedy that truly speaks to the gamer niche. It is one of the most successful web series, with season four hitting the web in 2010 and season five currently in the works. Day has shown that she has skills in writing and directing. And let us not forget her fantastic cast: Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda and Robin Thorsen. And of course special guest star Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Day has promised there will be even more guest stars coming up in future episodes. Let’s also not forget that Sandeep Parikh and Jeff Lewis have also made their own creations on the web with Legend of Neil (that wrapped the series with season three this year) and The Jeff Lewis 5-Minute Comedy Hour. They are both very funny and worth checking out.
# 10 – Suck and Moan
Vampires and zombies are all the rage nowadays (poor Black Lagoon monster… no one loves fishman monsters… sniff, sniff), but you don’t ever see them together. This comedy about vampires stuck in a zombie apocalypse is perhaps one of the lowest (budget-wise) on the list, but makes up for it with laugh out loud comedy moments. It is a “Seinfeld-ish” comedy where the characters decide to take out the zombies to protect their food source, but they can’t help but stop at random moments and ponder about things like: do vampires twinkle? If an owner of a home is turned into a zombie can a vampire enter without permission? Or…
Suck and Moan is a very funny vampire/zombie comedy with lots of laughs and bloody dismemberments of zombies.
# 9 – Mind’s Eye
There are some among us, humans who have the ability to harness their imaginations to alter reality. These Dreamweavers are all that stand between demonic & angelic forces and a young introverted boy named Illia Fairchild (Nik MacMillan). His young friends turn out to be adult Dreamweavers disguised as children.
This fun and original idea is also family-friendly. They did what everyone suggests you never do by working with kids, doing visual effects and having fight choreography. They’re just missing animal wrangling.
This Canadian fantasy web series premiered on Friday November 26th and is a well produced fantasy story with young talented actors and a transmedia approach with a planned pen & paper RPG and short stories posted online.
# 8 – Western X
This highly anticipated supernatural western web series premiered in December with the first three episodes bundled together with an introduction discussing the behind-the-scenes green screen and modeling work. They worked hard to create a unique look to the Western X setting. Who is X, this man that wakes with no memory surrounded by dead bodies in the middle of a desert? There are plenty of more episodes scheduled to reveal the mystery.
# 7 – Pioneer One
When a object falls from the sky over North America, spewing radiation, U.S. Homeland Security agents are sent to investigate. They discover a forgotten relic of the old Soviet space program that will have great significance for the entire world.
A lot of blood and sweat went into making this production. It was funded through donations and is the first series released on BitTorrent networks.
If you like modern-day scifi mixed with political intrigue, then this series is for you.
# 6 – Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura is a supernatural thriller web series about a young woman, Clara, whose drunken grandfather dies. She has to put away his belongings, and in so doing, learns of his secret occult life as a demon hunter who fought the demons that are loose upon the world. She (armed with her grandfather’s demon-capturing camera) is the only one who can stop The Sleepers from slaughtering the citizens of LA with impunity.
The series is written and directed by Drew Daywal, and produced by MWG Entertainment. The 20 episode series premiered September 22nd and it really captivated my attention once I started watching it. This well-shot and well-paced series has a very creepy vibe, and a lot of thought has been put into the creation of The Sleepers. They look scary, creepy, and more than a touch disturbing—the perfect blend for a memorable new breed of monster to haunt our dreams.
#5 – Vampire Zombie Werewolf
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A vampire, a zombie and a werewolf walk into a bar… just kidding. I had no idea what to expect from this series after watching the teaser trailers, so I was in for a pleasant surprise when the first three episodes launched this year. The concept of someone being a vampire, a zombie, AND a werewolf is just ripe for comedy. Add in 1960’s comedy music, yuppie humor, and jokes about web series and you’ve got a very funny and unique comedy series. Episode 2’s werewolf scene in the moors still makes me smile every time I think about it and I have actually found myself humming the theme music after watching the show.
#4 – Bite Me
We already talked about vampires versus zombies, but what about gamers versus zombies? It’s three gamers against one zombie outbreak in this new zombie comedy web series. It launched December 1st and has caught on quick with over 3 million views and counting, and is a very fast paced and funny zombie comedy (that is a little on the NSFW side). The series is Machinima’s first live action series and got some help from YouTube’s Grant Program, plus some aid from Microsoft and Capcom. You may recognize the guy that plays Mike, former lonelygirl15 star Yousef Abu-Taleb.
With the large viewing numbers, I doubt season one will be the last we hear of Bite Me.
# 3 – The LXD
The LXD (The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) is from the mind of director Jon Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D) and follows a group of dancers who are masters of a particular form of dance and can manipulate their Ra (think Chi, Ki, Prana, etc.) to accomplish great feats.
Season two focused more on the villains, setting the stage for a big battle. Organization X (aka OX) and the Dark Doctor serve as very formidable foes.
There are few web series (or traditional TV shows, or, heck, even 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 series unlike any other. The series spotlights all sorts of styles of dance choreography: Tricking, Popping, Hip-Hop, Krumping, Tap Dancing, B-boying, Roboting, Ballet, etc. It is a prime example of a concept that would never make the cut in the traditional system of movies and TV, but thrives on the Internet.
# 2 – Riese: Kingdom Falling
The wanderer Riese (Christine Chatelain) and her wolf Fenrir are being chased by a terrifying religious group. She must evade her would be assassins and uncover the truth.
Maybe it’s because I went to film school in Vancouver or maybe it’s because steampunk is the new cool thing (like fezzes… you Doctor Who fan know what I mean) or maybe it’s just because it is a finely polished steampunk story with a great cast and a cool wolf. Hey, that canine is awesome.
Although the series originally debuted November 2, 2009, it was picked up by SyFy after the first five episodes and returned October 26, 2010 with a new name: Riese: Kingdom Falling. SyFy re-released the first five episodes with narration by Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary) added and followed by five new episodes for season one.
The cinematography is gorgeous with the RED One camera and the series is packed with talented scifi actors like Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary), Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary), Patrick Gilmore (Stargate Universe), Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe), Ben Cotton (Stargate Atlantis), Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica) and Allison Mack (Smallville).
#1 – Asylum
Asylum is a procedural, with elements of scifi and mystery, set in a hospital for the criminally insane. After a violent outbreak, an officer from the Department of Mental Health is sent to investigate and learns of the hospital’s unorthodox methods. The series premiered December 10th, 2010.
Asylum is a polished, professional looking series with production good enough to be on network TV. This creepy series has an X-Files feel and is a “must” to check out.
Making this list was very tough and of course very much based on my tastes. There are many more shows that deserve mention that almost made this list: Haywire, Legend of Neil, Spellfury, Heroes Of The North, The Bannen Way, Hard Drive 13, and so many more.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
Asylum – Episode 5 & 6 “Eugene Wilson”
More Asylum, didn’t I just talk about them? These are the newest episodes.
Mind’s Eye – Episode 5 “Cornered”
Dreamweavers Patrick and Koji find themselves in big trouble.
Vampire Zombie Werewolf – Episode 1 Commentary
New episodes are planned for January. Until then, they recently released this version of episode 1 that includes a commentary.
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 2010. Take care my virtual friends. Until next time… marX out.
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.