Last weekend, the third L.A. Web Series Festival (aka L.A. Web Fest) took over the LAX Radisson Hotel, bringing a wide variety of Internet-based programming to screening rooms. I stopped by the event on Saturday afternoon and got to check out episodes from more than 20 series.
The annual convention certainly shows the diversity within the still-new medium. Shows ranged from slick productions with actors recognizable from television and film to DIY efforts. There were comedies, dramas, talk shows and documentaries. Comedies, however, seemed to dominate the day.
Below are five web series I caught at the festival that are worth your time.
5. Voyage Trekkers
The most obvious point of reference for Voyage Trekkers is Star Trek. From the “Captain's Blog” to the varied worlds this Galactic Union crew explores, many of the elements of the original Gene Roddenberry series are here. The difference is that Voyage Trekker's three-person team is beyond hapless. Their leader, Captain Sunstrike, is more Zapp Brannigan than James T. Kirk and the trio essentially fumbles its way through world after world, all the while offending the locals.
4. Human Resources
Mike Judge may have provided the blueprint for modern corporate comedies with Office Space, and Ricky Gervais certainly added to that with The Office, but sisters Kozi and Kyra Kyles are giving this 21st-century genre a creepy spin with Human Resources. It has sci-fi plots, disturbing horror movie music and puppets. Also, every episode concludes with hysterical bits of HR wisdom.
Laps doesn't launch its weekly broadcast until Wednesday, but I had the chance to catch two episodes at L.A. Web Fest and can say with certainty that you must check out this series. Cigar-chomping Nathan needs to shape up, so he heads to the local track for some workouts. His road to health and vigor isn't easy, though. Laps packs a lot of heart, and comedy, into very short episodes. I'm excited for the premiere.
2. Gigi Almost American
Gigi Almost American is co-produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, so there's a level of technical know-how evident here that trumps most DIY web series. (Though slick production certainly doesn't necessarily make a web series entertaining.) Josh Gad, from The Book of Mormon, stars in this series as Gigi, a man whose shaky grasp of English leads him on a string of episodic misadventures. Gigi in America is a comedy about communication and language, how a simple reversal of word order can completely change the meaning of a sentence. The writing is as much a star of the show as Gad.
1. Sunset Junction
Are the critters living in the Silver Lake Reservoir as impossibly hip as the neighborhood's human residents? John McCutcheon, creator of the stop-motion animated series Sunset Junction, seems to think so. McCutcheon's animals try to one-up each other with tales of their eclectic social lives. They gush over the career arc of James Franco. They debate the trendiness of the “unipant.” With all of the hot spots name-dropped in this series, it might be funniest for locals, but much of the humor will translate outside of Los Angeles.