Monday, April 30, 2012

Felicia Day Launches Geek and Sundry!

If you are a regular visitor to sites like Beaucoup Pop, chances are you've heard of Felicia Day. If not, shame on you! Just kidding (sort of). But if for some reason you are unfamiliar with her, let me tell you why you should rectify that little oversight immediately.

See, Felicia Day is a huge geek, and as such she has been an ambassador of geek culture for about the last decade in one form or another. Known primarily for her role as writer, producer and star of The Guild, Day is also a very talented writer, actress, singer and all-around cool person. She has also starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Eureka and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Now I'm not here to discuss her resume. No I'm here to talk about her latest project. Spearheaded alongside fellow executive producers Kim Evey and Sheri Bryant, Geek & Sundry, is a new YouTube channel offering a full slate of original programming covering catered towards nerds the world over. And trust me when I tell you that this isn't your typical "geek programming." You are not likely to find interviews with fellow card-carrying members of the geek community, or a bunch of videos from the floor of the latest convention, or a roundtable reviewing their favorite comic books or video games (not that there is anything wrong with that). No, the minds behind Geek & Sundry have set out to give viewers something unique, shows that are not expressly geek oriented, but will appeal to their overall interests. They've given us shows we never knew we wanted, but now we'll be grateful that we have them.

While not every show has launched their first official episode, every series has at least produced a short trailer giving viewers a sneek peek of what to expect. Here's a breakdown of Geek & Sundry's current lineup.

The Guild

As Felicia Day's most successful project to date, this show's inclusion should be obvious. When the series premiered, episodes were released on YouTube. After its initial success, The Guild was picked up and distributed by Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace, eventually making its way to MSN video, its own official website, Netflix, Hulu and iTunes. Not bad for an independent series.

I reviewed the show on my personal blog back in 2010, so I'll be brief with my description. At the core, The Guild chronicles the day-to-day lives of seven online gamers who spend all their time immersed in a fictional MMORPG. Although their gaming obsession plays a prominent role, the series is really about the guild's offline activities and how their unique, and often times quirky, personalities make them the unlikeliest of friends. The episodes are short, varying in length from 6-8 minutes, and have included cameos from actors such as Wil Wheaton and The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg. The writing is sharp and what I love most about The Guild is that it doesn't require you to have any prior experience with MMORPG's or online gaming to enjoy the series. Anyone can jump on and enjoy themselves.

Currently in Season 5, if you've never watched the series before you'll be able to find every episode on Geek & Sundry's YouTube page. New episodes air every Monday until the season finale.

Table Top

Hands down this is the show I'm most interested in. Hosted by Wil Wheaton, Table Top introduces viewers to the world of table top RPGs. Each week, Wheaton and a revolving panel of celebrity guests meet to play a boardgame handpicked by Wesley Crusher himself.

At the beginning of each show, Wheaton gives viewers a brief introduction of the game and it's various rules. After that you are introduced to the other players and then it's game on! You watch the first few rounds in real time and then video speeds up and stops at important parts of the game, and ultimately the finale. Along the way the player's exchange witty banter and Wheaton will educate any newbies on the game as they go along.

Given my other interests, you'd think I would be a sucker for table top RPGs, but honestly, I've never sat down to play one. Part of the problem has always been finding enough other people interested in giving them a try. Table Top shows me what I've been missing and has rekindled my desire to start playing these types of games. But the show isn't just for beginners. Whether you are an avid board gamer, or never played one in your life, Table Top is a very entertaining show that introduces viewers to a variety of different games that they may never have heard of. And you can tell that Wheaton loves table top games. His enthusiasm for the material is apparent throughout each episode.

If you play RPGs regularly, you may not want to devote 35 minutes a week to watching other people play online. But it's worth checking out to see what game they've picked and if it's something you and your friends might be interested in down the road.

New episodes air every other Friday.

Sword & Laser

Any fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts out there? More specifically, any fantasy and sci-fi novel enthusiasts out there? If so, have I got the the show for you.

Spinning out of their popular podcast of the same name, Sword & Laser, hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, is an online book club devoted to science fiction and fantasy-themed novels. The club originally started back in 2007, making the jump to podcasting in early 2008. Since then, Sword & Laser has moved their online discussion forums to Goodreads, where their membership has skyrocketed to over 7,000!!

Now thanks to Geek & Sundry,  Belmont and Merritt have added a visual element to their discussions. They will now interact with their fans "face-to-face" every other week during their video show and interactive feedback section. In addition to book reviews, viewers of Sword & Laser can look forward to interviews with authors and an overview of the industry's top news items and developments.

New episodes air every other Friday.

The Flog

I know what you're thinking. What the hell is a "flog"? Well it's simple. It's Felicia's video blog. Duh! What did you think it was?

Wanna see Felicia Day bottle feed a goat? How about try her hand at ice sculpting? Or better yet, being a trapeze artist for a day? That's pretty much the gist behind The Flog. It's Day getting out of her comfort zone and trying something new and exciting. And then filming herself while she does it.

I really enjoy the format of this particular show. It's starts off with her "Fave Five," a list of her top five favorite things from that week. It could be a new online game, or a book she really enjoyed, or an interesting Twitter feed. If it was one of favorite things that week, she's going to tell you about it. After that it's on to the nitty gritty. In the first episode, Day decided to be a blacksmith for a day. Sure, why not? It must be really cool to have these opportunities. To try different jobs, to meet such interesting people, and to be able to share it with the masses. You can tell that Day is having a blast and her natural enthusiasm and charisma really shine during these videos. This is easily my second favorite show on the channel.

New episodes air every Monday.

Written by a Kid

If any of  you are fans of Malachai and Ethan Nicolle's comic book series, Axe Cop, I think you'll really enjoy this particular show.

Here's the premise: Find a kid between the ages of 5 and 9-years-old and get them to create their own story. It could be about anything. Dinosaurs, robots, pirates, or better yet, a robotic dinosaur that commands its own pirate ship! Then you take that story and have it animated by some of the top online directors in the business. The results are nothing short of epic!!

This show is an ode to the untapped creative resource that is a child's imagination. It reminds you of what it was like to to be a kid, before life became complicated and your creativity was burdened by the restrictive rules of nature and physics. I think I'm really going to enjoy this one. I hope you do too.

New episodes air every Wednesday beginning July 18, 2012.

Learning Town

I have to admit something. I know nothing about this show, even after watching the trailer. But I'm a professional (?) so I'll do my best to break this show down.

Learning Town is hosted by Paul and Storm, a comedy music duo that's been around since 2004. They have released studio albums steadily since their debut, they put out a weekly podcast, and have performed live at various events across the country including PAX.

I think the idea of this show is to create something of an educational series using music and comedy to get the message across. But again, I'm just spitballing here. This show is a real wait and see for me. 

New episodes air in early Fall 2012.

Dark Horse Motion Comics

The title of this show doesn't leave much to the imagination now does it? So I guess we'll jump right in.

Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent publisher in the country, and is responsible for such titles as Hellboy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Goon, Umbrella Academy, and Felica Day's The Guild mini-series. Using the latest in motion technology, Dark Horse is offering up some of their premiere titles as motion comics that can be viewed every week on the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel.

I have mixed feelings about motion comics. The whole thing seems like an oxymoron to me. If for some reason I want my comics to move there are far superior ways to do it, i.e. live action films and animation. Motion comics never seem to look right. The movements are stiff and inorganic. Sometimes they are outright creepy (see the Astonishing X-Men motion comic....Yikes!).

And just like in animation, voice acting is important, but seems to be lacking in the few motion comics I've seen. I remember when they released Watchmen as a motion comic and one guy voiced every character! WTF?! It was disgraceful. He didn't even try to change his voice to suit the character. Male and female voices were identical. That's a no-no.

Although I've yet to be impressed by motion comics, my mind is still open to the idea so I'm looking forward to seeing what Dark Horse has to offer. 

New episodes air every Wednesday.

Well, that's the lineup so far. Not a bad selection overall. Like I said, the shows aren't what you may have expected, but regardless I'm looking forward to almost all of them. If you are interested in finding out more about Geek & Sundry its web presence is pretty extensive. You can check them out at the following locations:!/geekandsundry

Signing out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uh. I just lost half an hour somehow. Oh yeah. It was watching Tabletop. Holy SHIT I wanted to play tabletop RPGs as a kid. I lived in Rural Fucking Ohio where nobody would PLAY WITH ME and this shrink said I was going to turn suicidal the first time my character died. My mother bought me D&D in retaliation for the shrink's stupidity, but there was still the problem of NOBODY ELSE TO PLAY. And now? NOW? NOW I AM GOING TO HOUND my friends until they all agree to play thse damned things with me.

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