Wednesday, 23 May 2012

WIGS, Geek and Sundry, and the Show Which Must Not Be Named

In an era of changing viewing habits, economic cuts, and poor career opportunities for women actors (unless it's porn), it should come as no surprise that there's been a shift recently towards alternative methods of product delivery. As genre TV junkies, we're already familiar with webisodes. (Even if we're not really sure what to do with them, where they fit in, or even if there's any point to them.) What some are now attempting to do is probably the next logical step in that evolution: exclusive online content, created by top drawer writers/directors/producers/actors, available to view when and where you want.

Why should we care? Well, mostly because of the significant number of genre TV/movie actors jumping on-board. Although web-only content is often dismissed as TV's poorer cousin -- or at worst, the domain of the enthusiastic amateur -- these new shows look and feel just like regular TV. They're just a little shorter, are only available online, and operate under a different paradigm. Gone are the network big wigs trying to mould everything into some generic consumable blob -- these shows are untainted by outside influences, made by seasoned professionals, and pretty much remain true to their creator's vision. At least that's the goal. It's early days yet, but if you fancy suckling on the teat of the potential 'future of entertainment', here are a few channels in which to dip your proverbial toe.

WIGS was launched earlier this month and is the brain child of Hollywood film-makers Rodrigo Garcia (Six Feet Under, Carnivale, The Sopranos) and Jon Avnet (Justified, Black Swan, Fried Green Tomatoes). According to Avnet, the channel provides 'quality scripted dramas, that are written, directed and performed by world class talents'. Who are these 'world class talents'? Most of them I'm pretty sure you'll recognise: Jennifer Garner (Alias), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Jaime Murray (Warehouse 13), Caitlin Gerard (The Social Network), Virginia Madsen (The Event), Julia Stiles (Dexter), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love), and Alfred Molina (Spider-man 2). WIGS is currently airing two shows -- Jan and Serena -- with Blue set to première on June 11th. The main WIGS site can be found here.

Next channel worthy of a mention is Felicia Day's Geek and Sundry. Whilst WIGS produces mainly drama, Geek and Sundry covers a whole range of interests -- such as gaming (Tabletop), fun documentaries (The Flog), drama (The Guild), comic books (Dark Horse), and comedy (Written by a Kid). Again, many familiar faces are involved: Wil Wheaton (ST:TNG), Colin Ferguson (Eureka-ka-ka), Rod Roddenbury (ST:NV), Neil Grayson (Eureka), James Kyson (Heroes), and Jane Espenson (Everything in the world -- including some stuff beyond it). So if you've ever wanted to see Sheriff Carter crocheting a stuffed mouse (complete with antennae), Clara from The Guild cooking a Torta, or Penny from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog sculpting a slightly deformed swan out of ice, then this may be the show for you.

My favourite show on Geek and Sundry is a book review show called Sword and Laser. The 'sword' is for fantasy and the 'laser' for Sci-fi. (The 'and' is just a conjunction.) Hosted by Tom Merritt (Tech News Today) and Veronica Belmont (Tekzilla), the show has had three incarnations: firstly as an internet book club, then as a weekly podcast, and now as a twice monthly video show. (With the audio podcast running alternate weeks). It's a mixture of book news, reviews and author interviews. It also boasts a strong internet community located at Good Reads, where you can discuss anything from the book of the month, to your favourite author, to why books smell. You can even interact with the presenters -- and the good news is, if you like the show, there are over four years worth of audio podcasts available in the archives. For a full listing of what Geek and Sundry has to offer, check out their website here.

And lastly, although not strictly in the same mould as the shows above, is the shamelessly named Vaginal Fantasy Hangout. This is not a professional project, but I'm mentioning it anyway because (a) it has a similar spirit, (b) it features some of the same personnel, and (c) it takes an amusing, sometimes insightful, look at 'lady-leaning' genre fiction. It's hosted by Felicia Day, and features Veronica Belmont (again), Kiala Kazabee (The Nerdist), and Bonnie Burton ( VFH airs the last Monday of every month, and is over an hour of live chat, bizarre opinions, reviews, drunkenness and stuffed animals. It airs live on Google+ (archived later on youtube), and is fully interactive (via Twitter, IRC and Good Reads). So if you want to mock Felicia's pitiful alcohol tolerance or Bonnie's insane taxidermy obsession, this is the place to do it. The website's here. Watch at your peril. There will be smut.

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