Today on the Internet: The Junior League of Superheroes

Posted: July 15, 2009 in Braak
Tags: ,

Pursuant to Tosh.0, and the relationship of television to the internets, I find myself interested in the potential viability of amateur web television shows.  One way or another, I think, this kind of stuff is the future–just, near future or far future, that’s the question.  The stuff like Dr. Horrible is important, and the real change is probably going to come through something like that, when someone who’s already in a financially sound position can just do it; but the actually body of the art form is going to be made up of just regular people doing this because they want to.

But, anyway, I get a notice about this, The Junior League of Superheroes, which features a variety of people, including someone named Teresa Reilly who I, apparently, actually know(?).  So, that’s exciting.

The show is cute.  They’ve got two eight-minute episodes up now–with surprisingly high production quality, actually.  I think that the gradual and consistent increase in availability of camera and sound equipment is going to be a huge boon for artists like this.  I remember trying to make movies when I was in the sixth grade using this big fat VHS camcorder…well, it doesn’t look like that.  Junior League looks and sounds clear as crystal, which is really the only important thing that you need when it comes to filming comedy.

The premise of the show is that it’s something about a Junior League of superheroes.  Or, I guess, it’s a group of friends who are also superheroes, and want to join the Junior League of Superheroes.  There’s very little information in the show about exactly how that works–do they really have powers?  Do they just wish they have powers?  Do they have their own costumes?  Do they fight crime on their own, or only as part of the Junior League?  What the hell is the Junior League of Superheroes, anyway?  Is there a regular league of superheroes to which this one is junior?  (I assume so.)

I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem, actually; releasing the superhero stuff in dribs and drabs throughout the episodes will enable them to focus more on the characters (and avoid what I think must still be expensive special effects).  There’s something funny, in fact, about a TV show about superheroes that doesn’t have them doing anything especially a) super, or b) heroic.  You come to realize that, as a superhero, most of your time is spent not being a superhero.  Instead, you mostly sit around and talk about Star Wars.

The script and performances are strong, and there’s occasionally bits of genuinely funny and dynamic direction.  My only criticism of it is this–I understand the rejection of the traditional, fixed-point camera model used in regular sitcoms.  But!  They didn’t just use that model because they couldn’t afford a ton of camera operators; letting most of the scenes of a comedy rest without cuts and edits leaves the humor up to the natural comic timing of the actors.  Comedy is hard under the best circumstances–having to have to cut your scenes together to recreate the natural give and take that your actors are providing is just making extra work for yourself.

So, final conclusion:  assuming that there’s a direction in which the series is going to go (and I think that this is a fair assumption), it’s not bad, and could be really good if it finds its feet.  I recommend support at this stage, to help create and foster an environment in which new artists can work.

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Comments
  1. Jeff Holland says:

    We know Theresa as youngest of the King of Prussia actin’ Reillies, which also includes Erin and Mike, from our Consortium days.

    I’ll weigh in on this later, as I too received notice and wanted to investigate after work hours.

  2. Hey Chris and Jeff,

    Indeed, I am of the Consortium Reillys. And yes, we are all friends on facebook (which is how I snuck this crazy little web series into your hands) Aren’t the marvels of the great intraweb amazing?

    Dr. Horrible is a great thing to compare the creation of this web series to, because just like Joss during the writer’s strike, this little bunch of well-trained and unemployed actors really wanted to just make our own work, make it well and not wait around indefinitely for someone to notice and cast us in something we might possibly not hate. We wanted to create a world we could play in. And if it meant producing it ourselves…why not? (In true Reilly fashion.)

    You have lots of excellent questions, all valid and important. Some will be answered in the 3rd Episode, which we will be premiering at Comic Con next week, and others which will be fleshed out in further episodes in our 12 episode season. I recommend checking out our supersecret trailer, which reveals some little sneak peeks of Episode 3, at http://www.juniorleagueofsuperheroes.com/secrettrailer.mov.

    Thanks for watching, Chris and Jeff. There’s more to come, I promise.

    Best,

    Teresa
    http://www.twitter.com/jlosh
    http://www.youtube.com/getjloshed

    PS The weird thing is…I think YOU facebook friended ME. Huh!

  3. braak says:

    I don’t remember any of this. This is not unusual, though, and don’t take it personally, Teresa. It’s just…I have a very hard time paying attention to people who aren’t me.

    Anyway, though, I think you raise an excellent point, and something that’s likely to, in the future, be a key distinguishing difference between a web series that has legs and one that doesn’t–are the people making it doing it with the attention of getting noticed and then hired in (ideally) more lucrative work? Or is the series the end in itself.

    I think the real turning point in web-based entertainment is the number of people who are purposefully creating web-video content with the sole intention of creating web-video content.

    So, we’ll see.

    That’s trailer was funny, but is it a good idea to have a trailer be a secret? I thought you wanted trailers to be the opposite of secret.

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