Saturday, June 14, 2014

One Episode: Bitten, The After, Crisis

Bitten is an original Space channel series about werewolves.  It is based on a book series by Kelly Armstrong and is set in Toronto, for the most part.  Elena is the only female werewolf having been changed by an ex-boyfriend and now lives apart from the pack. But try as hard as she can to keep away, they will keep dragging her back in.

This is CW lite fare. With a little bit more nudity than American stations allow, the werewolves are all pretty, buff boys with blonde, lithe Laura Vandervoort (Kara/Supergirl from Smallville) as the lead. The first episode reveals her difficulty in leading a normal life without giving into the change and the hunt. It is likened to a psychological addiction where you need release, but in this case, if you don't do at least a little skin walking, you might wolf out and eat your neighbours.

That is the central plot of the first episode, as someone is eating girls in a park, and suspicion is cast on her or maybe its just on a rogue werewolf, a mutt. That is why the pack draws her back to upstate New York to discuss her place in the werewolf world, to flaunt around in expensive clothes and give sideways looks at each other. They are werewolves, so you know they will never really get along.

It was boring. Not even CW tantalizing, because if we are only get one female werewolf, then its meant for the female population. I am so far outside its demographic,  I am not sure why we downloaded it. I am not against that, it just didn't do anything for me. Slick, decently produced and full of nice locations and well dressed people. But I want more wolf and less soap opera.

Meanwhile, we get The After, from Chris Carter (The X-Files) by way of Amazon. The pilot aired on the Internet (Amazon's streaming service, I would assume, though its not available in Canada) and that has been about it. It must have been so under the radar, nobody has even provided a decent Wikipedia summary, but made enough money that a full season has been ordered.

Post-Apocalypse meets Lost is how I heard it billed. Basically, an ensemble cast are tossed together in the parking basement of a hotel when something happens. We are not sure what; we just see the chaos outside the building. Cell phones are flaky, TV is showing weird happenings, but along with the trapped bunch in the basement, we are mostly in the dark. Oooooo, cue mysterious tense music.

The opening act gives us french actress Louise Monot as Gigi, as an actress in LA trying to get a good role but offered a bad one. She is our eyes into what happens around the city, as the cast gets tossed together, trapped in the basement. Tense moments, conflicts, allegiances and essentially an entire season mingled into act two.

When they finally escape, they are given a bit of deus ex machina by escaping to The Rich Lady's house. Therein lies food, booze and rest. It would have been a perfect place to hole up for a few episodes while the series lays out the groundwork for the season, but nope, bad guys show up and everyone has to run off into the dark, into the woods. Are there woods in LA? End act three.

It has possibilities, as it flowed back and forth across the line of decent indie production to half-assed web series. It was definitely not a polished Netflix original series (not sure how they knew how to produce such quality as the first of its kind) but it has potential. I have a feeling the cast will be gutted before the series properly starts but even so, there could be some fun to be had.

And then we have Crisis, which I just noticed is running on broadcast TV now.  It was a mid-season replacement series from NBC, which I am pretty sure we saw long before it properly aired, but it has all the feeling of half-assed web series. The charm of web series is that despite their clunkiness and limited budgets, they are often labours of love and that shows through. Their condensed formats, usually running much less than 42 minutes of standard TV, keep things flowing and create a whole new rhythm. This one has all the bad acting, head shaking story telling and boring sets without any of the charm. It was really bottom of the barrel scraping for mid-season replacing.

Basically the plot is that a bunch of kids, including the President's son, are kidnapped by an extreme group, one of whom we find out is actually one of the kidnapped, a disgruntled intelligence worker played by Dermot Mulroney in scary-geek mode. So, its up to the Secret Service (who had traitors in their midst) and FBI (when did late-20s blonde become an FBI model?) and the kids themselves to save everyone. But I am not sure we actually care about these over-privileged kids and their desperate parents. I am sure someone billed it as 24 for soccer moms,  but again, not my demo.

Its kind of disappointing that soon after the emergence of exploring TV from different sources, I am already running out of decent stuff to watch. I guess I should just give up for a while and watch the three Bridges.