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The Twelve Days of Festivus: Four webby series

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 20th 2009 11:22AM
Felicia DayOn the fourth day of Festivus, TV gave to me... four webby series.

There's probably more original content being created for the internet than there even is for television. A lot of that is your neighbor sitting in his basement in front of his webcam seeing how many croutons he can shove in his mouth in thirty seconds, but there are places to find great original content, many times on par with what you'll see on television.

Syfy's Sanctuary is a show that began as a web series and has since become a successful TV series. But many web series live and thrive on the web, and belong only there.

A lot of our favorite celebrities have turned to this unrestricted format to create gems, like Will Ferrell's modern classic "The Landlord" from a few years back, or even last year's sensational Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog that brought Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Simon Helberg and Felicia Day into a mad scientist musical world created by Joss Whedon. Even the networks have gotten in on the action, creating original content for their own websites.

It certainly wasn't easy selecting only four series to spotlight, as we could easily do the 100 Days of Festivus and still not cover everything that's out there. And I'm sure there are many, many series that I overlooked, didn't properly appreciate or just plain forgot. But that's what the comments are for. In no particular order, here are four webby series that demanded my attention this year. Just for fun, I've even found four with TV connections.

Baman Piderman1. Baman Piderman - This animated series could have gone down in history as just a very, very strange collection of nonsense shorts. But after a few episodes, it became clear that underneath it all is ongoing continuity, and now even an adventure quest.

It reminds me of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, in that it's so weird you can watch an episode and have no idea what you just sat through. While ATHF has a vicious streak, there's a sweetness in the relationship between best fwiends Baman (Batman parody) and Piderman (Spider-Man). The pair are like Bizarro versions of the super-heroes, only even less together than that.

It's a sister series to the violent, talking animal, internet phenomenon Happy Tree Friends over at Mondo Media, and has become a favorite feature of G4's Attack of the Show, which screens virtually every episode on TV.

Here's the latest episode; the first part of an "epic" adventure:

Between Two Ferns2. Between Two Ferns - There were only four new episodes of this interview series in 2009, but considering how high Zach Galifianakis' (The Hangover, Bored to Death) star has risen this year, it's fantastic that he's still making these interview specials. The premise is pretty simple. Galifianakis is the host of a talk show, and he and his guest sit between two giant ferns. The problem is that Galifianakis is generally rude, disinterested and incredibly inappropriate to many of his guests.

The series is part of Will Ferrell's Funny or Die! website, which has always been a friendly place for celebrities to moonlight in the world of web videos. Hopefully, Galifianakis will continue into the new year with these shorts, and use his growing fame to book bigger and better guests that he can insult and make incredibly uncomfortable. Check out his latest interview with The Tonight Show's Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter:

Ctrl 3. Ctrl- This past summer, NBC became the first major network to launch an original web series, and it turned out great. Starring Tony Hale (Arrested Development), it's a fantasy comedy show about a hapless office worker named Stuart Grundy. He has a crush on his boss' assistant Elizabeth, but doesn't get along with the boss, Ben. The series is an expansion of a short film named Ctrl Z, featuring the same cast, which took Sundance by storm in 2008.

In the first episode, Ben launches a football at Stuart, causing a drink to spill on Stuart's keyboard. Somehow, this mishap gives Stuart's keyboard magical abilities. By pressing Ctrl-Z, he can undo time. Ctrl-B makes him more bold than his usual nerdish demeanor. Other keys create other situations, but it's Hale himself that makes the series such a delight. It's worth watching from the beginning, and at only a few minutes per episode you can burn through it pretty quickly. Here, I'll get you started:

The Guild 4. The Guild - Felicia Day has been around TV and the internet for awhile now, first gaining recognition as Vi in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But after her starring role back with Joss Whedon on Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog last year, she's become a much more familiar face on television. She starred also in the un-aired first season finale of Dollhouse, and is back on board for the series finale.

Before either of those things, though, Day created The Guild, a web series she writes and stars in. In it, Day plays Codex, a healer in The Knights of Good. It's based on her own experiences playing World of Warcraft, though she makes the game her guild plays more generic for copyright purposes. It's the story of Codex's life and how complicated it gets after she and her online guild meet in person and start to interact that way.

Over three seasons and 34 episodes, The Guild is one of the most viewed and critically acclaimed web series in the history of the internet. At the 2009 Streamy Awards, which honors achievement in web series, The Guild took home three awards, for best series, best ensemble, and best actress for Felicia Day. Check out the first episode here:

Shout out in the comments with your "cant miss" web series. Maybe by next year, we'll need a much bigger number for this category.

Twelve shows a stinkin'
Eleven babes worth watchin'
Ten shows on DVD
Nine on-air breakdowns
Eight stars a'shinin'
Seven shows a'thrivin'
Six shows you should be watchin'
Five cancelled shows

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December 21 2009 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Legend of Neil" is one of the funniest web series around (and not coincidentally, Felicia Day is in that too).

December 21 2009 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Riese the Series, a sci-fi/fantasy web series. is another can't miss web. The show has some of the top sci-fi actors to date in it, in addition to animals in the cast.tOt also took the production of web shows to a new level in term of art direction and cinematography. Plus the storyline rocks and it's steampunk, showing how niche marketing for web shows can be a success. And it's completely independent. I'd definitely check out Riese.

December 21 2009 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Shout out in the comments with your "cant miss" web series. "

I'd humbly recommend "Real Life With Married People"--while it's an indie series without TV-related corporate sponsorship, it's often about two people *watching* television. Sort of like "Mad About You" meets "Beavis & Butthead." Plus, it's short and funny.

December 21 2009 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kevin Pollacks chatshow is much better than between two ferns.

December 21 2009 at 2:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Didn't Clint Howard have an Internet talk show that took place in an alleyway, and the guests were paid something like $6.98 and a frozen turkey?

December 20 2009 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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