Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

The new way to watch telly

on December 16, 2014

Following on from my (relatively) recent post, where I rounded up things I’d been enjoying, here’s more information about some of the web-series I’ve seen, and my thoughts on them.

Since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries came to an end I’ve investigated several more similar series.  Some I haven’t really got into.  Some I’ve persevered with despite their failure to live up to early promise.  I’ve just finished watching Pemberley Digital‘s latest venture, Frankenstein M.D. and was inexplicably disappointed, since they were only being faithful to the original (or, at least, I think they were, I’ve only read the Ladybird version and that bothered me enough – not in a scary way, just a sad way – that I never wanted to read the real thing).  One thing’s for sure, LBD has set the bar very high for other attempts!

The ones I’ve really enjoyed this year are Nothing Much To Do,  an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set in a modern-day New Zealand high school, and Classic Alice.  NMTD interested me as the original play is one of my favourite Shakespeare works – I’ve been in it, studied it for A-level and seen about 6 or so different productions.  The series has finished now (I think – a couple more little episodes have popped up since I thought it had ended) but of course all the episodes are still there, and there’s a playlist which helpfully presents them in the correct order.  What’s great about it, apart from the fact that the updating process has been really well thought through, is that it was broadcast on several different channels to represent the various points of view of the characters (who weren’t always watching each other’s videos), and to highlight the accidental way in which Dogberry and Verges become involved in unravelling the plot (and I adored their homage to Sherlock, including kazoo theme music).  The makers (The Candle Wasters) have promised a follow-up, Lovely Little Losers (loosely based on Love’s Labours Lost), in due course, so I’ll be looking forward to that.

Classic Alice isn’t an updating of a book as such, but centres around a creative writing student who decides to live her life according to the decisions made by characters in various classic plots, following each through to its conclusion before embarking on the next.  Her friend Andrew who is studying media (or something) is filming her for a project and he also gets involved in the stories, as does Alice’s roommate Cara, and a range of other characters.  So far they have worked through Crime and PunishmentPygmalionThe ButterflyMacbeth and The Wind in the Willows but cleverly the plot created by their responses to each of these is ongoing and continues to develop despite each book’s coming to an end.

I’m not great at following the transmedia bits of the shows on Twitter, Tumblr and the like (what is Tumblr even for?), so I’m sure I’m not getting the full benefits, but the Facebook pages tend to link to the most significant tweets, etc, so I’m not missing anything important, and my main interest is the updating and presentation of the stories.

One more that’s just getting going is In Earnest, a version of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The first episode is DULL, but give it a chance because it’s warming up OK and the actor who plays Algy is especially good. This is one I think would benefit from the multi-channel approach – having everything broadcast on one channel is convenient to find, but doesn’t really make sense within their universe – and it seems a lot less “real” and more of a performance than some of the others, but is nonetheless engaging and entertaining.

My final pick, for the time being, is A Mid-Semester Night’s Dream.  I can’t work out how much I like this, it’s a strange beast – set on a modern-day college campus but performed in the original text (with modifications), and with fairies?  It does at least show that there are other ways of approaching an update of a classic, and I’m waiting to see how it pans out.  I’m definitely impressed by some of the clever updates to the text, however, my favourite for now being:

PUCK: I go, I go: look how I go;
Swifter than arrow from Katniss’s bow.



What do you think? Let me know!

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