Noah J Nelson on Tuesday, Sep. 11th
When last we checked in on Fourth Wall Studios, they were launching their RIDES.TV platform with their premire transmedia web series Dirty Work. It’s been a busy summer for the Emmy nominated Culver City studio, who have ramped up their release schedule and rolled out a bunch of one-shots and anthology style series in the past few weeks.
Where Dirty Work held to a more traditional sitcom format, the latest offerings from Fourth Wall are shorter pieces. Resulting in content that feels a little more native to the Internet in terms of running time, while still holding on to the high production value the studio has established.
So just what do they have up their sleeves? Find out after the jump…
The horror anthology Dark Wall is anchored by it’s own version of the Cryptkeeper. In this case a sinister old man in a wheelchair played by venerable character actor James Urbaniak (Henry Fool, The Venture Brothers). Known only as Dark Wall, the old man communicates through an keyboard interpreter, sort of like an evil Stephen Hawking. Urbaniak does a hell of a lot with just his eyes and a smirk. I actually just shuddered to think about it.
The latest episode, The Swarming, has shades of the Japanese horror movie Ringu. Note that I’m too pretentious to just say “it borrows a beat from The Ring“. That’s because (Hipster Alert!) I saw Ringu first and it traumatized me. Oh. Now you feel guilty. When you think about it, how could writer Sean Stewart avoid playing around with the idea of an infectious phone call when writing for a storytelling platform that rings up the audience?
Another recent release, also in the anthology vein is the pilot for a series called The Gamblers. Two disembodied voices– they could be cosmic beings of some kind– watch a scene unfold and take bets on the action. The viewer gets to bet on the final outcome as well, matching their wits against both the scripted characters and data on what other viewers have picked. It’s a neat little interactive twist on the format, without actually changing the story. (There may be a missed opportunity to have the gambler characters react to the viewer/player’s bets however. Just something to think about.)
The pilot is a twisted little tale about an emotionally stunted creep who is threatening suicide in an attempt to manipulate the girl of his dreams. So, you know, a feel good comedy through and through.
There’s an overall feeling of something subversive running through much of the current Fourth Wall offerings. I’m still not sure if it’s a conscious choice to appeal to genre fans, or an expression of the outsider attitude that led a group of gaming and marketing geniuses– yeah, I’ll go there– to try their hand at disrupting the entertainment industry with a format that takes into account the fractured way in which modern audiences consume media.