Caught On The Web

Posted on March 28, 2010

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This review originally appeared on Totally Dublin’s Telly Thursday feature.

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Telly Thursday’s looking a bit different this week. We’re looking a post shorter and a tad more hung-over after the Patrick’s Day shenanigans. We’re also looking at a slightly smaller telly because we haven’t been able to haul ourselves out of bed yet and light and bright colours really aren’t agreeing with us at the moment.

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So you might think, there’s not a whole lot Telly Thursday can do from its self inflicted sick bed, and you’d be right enough. But what we can do, we’re going to do.

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Though, we by no means encourage it, it’s very easy to get hold of all of your Telly needs on the internet now. And that’s something that RTE have caught onto because they recently launched their 2nd Storyland competition – a contest for filmmakers to create a web series and have it aired on RTE’s website. Last year’s winner Hardy Bucks set the standard by taking the crown and we’re sure there’ll be plenty watching to see what takes it this year.

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So despite our Patrick’s Day hangover and the wish to do nothing more than crawl into a corner and hibernate, we’ve decided to embrace the revolution of Web TV and give you a quick guide to Storyland 2010.

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Butchers:

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Butchers boasts the most recognisable cast of the competition, with yer man from Bachelors Walk (Keith McErlean) taking one lead role and (John Lynn) taking the other. A likeable comedy, our two leads get let off from their cushy office jobs when they’re both too arrogant to accept reduced salaries. The death of an uncle results in the two boys inheriting a butcher shop and from there, mayhem ensues.

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Butchers is probably the most stylishly filmed of the four remaining series, the closest thing you’ll see to broadcast quality. It’s amusing too and that’s mainly down to the two leads who have a great rapport and are likeable characters. The latest episode sees the boys trying to attract customers while also hoping to pass the health inspection. But after Gerry’s severed toe turns up in one of the most unexpected places, it’s going to take a miracle… The plots are a little thin perhaps, (The toe plot is also slightly borrowed from Friends) but we have to remember that it was a very simple show that won last years competition so perhaps it’s better to be simplistic.

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Marianna:

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From one series with a plot too thin to another with a plot that’s far too thick for a web series, especially a mere 6 minute one. Marianna is a 400 year old vampire who only preys on bad people, but we don’t actually have this clarified until episode 3. On meeting Tony, she discovers that he holds some mystical and as yet, untapped power. Knowing she must protect him until he finds out, Marianna starts a relationship with him, while meanwhile, writing her memoirs and becoming a publishing sensation.

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Marianna tries to do too much. There are too many plots going on between book publishing, her relationship with Tony and, as and from the third episode, the mysterious vampire intent on finding Tony, while what can only be described as coven (no, not an oven!) of vampires plan the death of Marianna. It’s a spider of plots that can’t be developed properly within 6 episodes of 6 minutes, meaning that almost every scene feels rushed. Filming wise, it also tries to do too much, choosing to showcase exuberant amounts of special effects which make the scenes look clunky and unrealistic. There’s no doubting the ambition behind Marianna but watching the series, it just feels like it’s being stifled by the need to squeeze everything into a small space (kind of like the taxi we got home last night…)

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We Own The Streets:

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Meet XL. XL is a music producer, free runner and all around feckless guy (Is there any other kind?) A mockumentary series, WOTS follows XL around on his daily life as he discusses the meaning of life, the hollow earth, his music and free running. Including interviews with those who know XL best, We Own The Streets aims to uncover the real life of self proclaimed music legend XL.

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WOTS is the series I just can’t get into at all. The idea is good, follow a so-called music producer around, when there’s nothing conceivably interesting about him. In the most recent episode, XL withdraws Karolina’s invite to his music gig when he hears she just wants to be friends with him. In a sense, WOTS is the only deviation in a group full of narrative driven series but this doesn’t necessarily work in its favour as at the moment, there’s nothing holding an audience. XL is charismatic enough and has had some truly baffling one liners but perhaps a bit more of a direction would have benefited this series.

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Zombie Bashers:

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Business is bad. The Zombie Bashers, Pascal and Mick are losing business to ZTU, a fancy Ghost Buster-esque team of zombie hunters, and they don’t know how. With zombies the least of their worries, Pascal and Mick get ready for war, not with zombies, but their competitor….

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When the teaser trailers first appeared for Storyland, I have to admit I thought it looked dreadful, a Shaun of the Dead wannabe mixed with elements of Val Falvey TD. The first two episodes were overwhelmingly surprising, boasting a cast we hadn’t seen in the teaser. Again, the series has a simple concept, dashed with topical humour and some documentary style interludes which add to the comedic value. Zombie Bashers feels like something Tarantino would write if he were Irish and knew who Henry Shefflin was. The real stand out however is Cathal Cheunt as the petulant Pascal, belittling his secretary and giving dog’s abuse to Mick. In a way, he’s carrying the series, but it’s only because he’s that good, he’s eating the sets.

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All of RTE Storyland’s entries are available at www.rte.ie/storyland

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