A new year is upon us again here at The Indienet and Beyond, which means it is time to look back at 2012 and spotlight the best of the best of web series for the year.
Now with a disclaimer… not only another year of web series, but another year with a jump not only in quantity, but also in quality. This made narrowing the list down to 10 even more difficult than last year, forcing us to make some painful decisions. Even with our focus on scifi/fantasy/horror themes, it was a challenge to pick just 10. Also… SciFi Pulse’s Marx Pyle was involved in working on three web series this year. So, in order to avoid a conflict of interest, we have those listed as three “bonus picks.”
In case you missed it the last two years, here is a recap of the Top 10 for 2011 and 2010. You can also click links to read interviews (some in text and some as audio) with the creators.
Top 10 of 2011
Top 10 of 2010
For 2012, many of these shows are still developing their next season or may just not return, which would have made it easier this year. However, there were plenty of new shows and returning shows to fill the gaps.
To give you a better idea of the growing number of web series each year and the increasing production quality, let’s take a look at the stats from the IAWTV awards. They had a total of 473 web series submitted to the 2013 IAWTV Awards, which is a 76% increase in the number of web series from 2011. Their numbers also show that the value of original web series productions in 2012 is over $135 million versus in 2011 when the industry was valued at $45 million.
Now, keep in mind that the IAWTV awards do not represent every web series out there. There are still many independent and studio owned web series that didn’t submit. But that still gives us a good idea of the overall growth in the number of shows out there and amount of budget they are getting to play with.
As bigger budget productions jump into web television, it becomes more challenging to give independent productions their fair nods. Most likely, if the trend continues, we will need to make two separate Top 10s. But not this year.
Let us know if you think we missed any web series. We are always looking for new shows to add to our viewing schedule. So without further ado….
…here are the Top 10 Web Series picks for 2012, chosen by The IndieNet and Beyond and presented by SciFi Pulse’s Marx Pyle (with a bonus three additional shows in which Marx participated in some capacity).
#13 (Bonus Pick) – Book of Dallas
“Dallas McKay is your average 20-something newspaper reporter: Single, liberal, and unabashedly atheist. When a truck smacks into him in a bar parking lot, he wakes up in Heaven and – after uttering a few choice profanities – finds himself face-to-face with the God he doesn’t believe exists. But God isn’t out for vengeance; She’s concerned that Her message has been lost in a swarm of religious zealotry, and sends Dallas back to Earth to write and sell a new, improved religious text.”
When writer/executive producer Joe Atkinson told me about his script, I instantly thought it could make a great web series and convinced him to re-write it as one. It is a timely, or perhaps timeless, examination of organized religion. I signed on to direct four of the ten episodes and co-produced the series. The series was picked up by Koldcast and racked up over 1.4 million views quickly.
#12 (Bonus Pick)– Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II
“‘Star Trek Phase II’ (formerly called ‘Star Trek New Voyages’) is an award-winning fan-created science fiction series set in the Star Trek universe. The series was created by James Cawley in April 2003. The series, released exclusively via the Internet, is designed as a continuation of the original ‘Star Trek,’ beginning in the fourth year of the Starship Enterprise’s ‘five year mission.’ It incorporates elements of the Star Trek animated television series as well as elements of the original ‘Star Trek Phase II’ television series–a Star Trek revival series planned for the late 1970s but ultimately aborted at the 11th hour.”
This classic web series is a fan production continuation of the classic science fiction TV series, Star Trek: The Original Series. Launching online in 2004 and winning a TV Guide award and nominated for a Hugo, this series is one of the longest running Star Trek fan productions and perhaps the most famous.
I had the honor of being asked to be Director of Photography on the series and worked on their new vignette and newest episodes. Walking on a duplication of the bridge and transporter room of the original Enterprise was like stepping into TV history. The next best thing to traveling in a time machine, which of course I wouldn’t ever want to do…. (We all know how dangerous that would really be what with messing with the space/time continuum, likely changing time so we end up conquered by machines or smurfs or something…)
Click here to listen to interviews with the cast.
#11 (Bonus Pick) – Reality On Demand
“Four strangers playtest a highly advanced virtual reality game that puts them into their favorite TV shows and movies. But when they become trapped, a fun adventure takes a dangerous turn where cancellation means death. Science Fiction, comedy, fantasy, and horror–any genre is game on Reality On Demand.”
Ever since I interviewed Damian Kindler back in 2007, I’ve always wanted to make my own web series. Right after I interviewed him, I was so excited about this new frontier that I wrote up three series concepts. Reality On Demand was one of these. After brushing some dust off of it, I wrote a pilot and asked Julie to write future drafts to help refine it. It premiered in January of 2012 and won a few awards (including 2nd place of Best Series at Gen Con and selected to screen at LA Webfest 2013). It was a blast to make what was the most challenging low budget shoot to date, with 6 main cast members, lots of secondary characters, action scenes, visual effects (like that awesome Hell Hole), and of course… zombies.
A season two is in the works. And I’m creating or co-producing more web series for the future. Click here to listen to an interview with the cast & crew.
#10 – Drifter: Broken Road
“…this Ozarks produced series follows a figure known as Drifter, portrayed by Vanessa Leinani, fresh off her role from the film ‘180.’ In the story, Five years after a brutal second civil war, a figure known as Drifter befriends the owners of a trading post on her trail to revenge, five years after a second civil war.”
This post-apocalyptic series, with a spaghetti western feel mixed in, is well written and directed. The series follows the Drifter on her journey for revenge. Season Two is in the works and we look forward to seeing where the story goes. Click here to listen to an interview with creator Jason Brasier.
#9 – Ragged Isle
“Young journalism school graduate Vicki Burke has just landed a job at a newspaper on the quiet Maine island of Ragged Isle. She is soon caught up in a mystery involving several deaths by drowning, though the victims’ bodies are discovered nowhere near the water, their clothes completely dry. The solution to the puzzle may uncover secrets that have been kept on the island for generations.”
This mystery-thriller web series out of Maine showcases the talent from that state. If you love Twin Peaks or X-Files, then you may get hooked on this show. You can click of here to listen to an interview with co-creator Barry Dodd.
#8 – Black Box TV Presents
Want to see an anthology on the web that captures the feel of shows like Twilight Zone or Outer Limits? Just go online and get your horror/scifi anthology fix with writer & director Tony E. Valenzuela’s Black Box TV YouTube channel. The anthology series combines compact storytelling, eye-catching cinematography, and well-paced music with twists that often pull at our primal fear of–or fundamental desire to explore–the unknown.
Since it was on the list last year, it has grown even bigger with support from the YouTube made-for-web channels initiative and bringing on-board C.S.I. creator Anthony Zuiker for relaunch. This included Silverwood, a horror/sci-fi anthology series that takes place in the remote, mountain town of Silverwood, California. This was the first effort by Black Box TV to link their stories. Click here to read an interview with creator Tony E. Valenzuela.
#7 – Transolar Galactica
“Follow the adventures of the crew of the S.S. Transolar as they navigate the far reaches of space and learn it’s not as simple, or safe, as most might have you believe…
Transolar Galactica, which finished its first season in 2012 and has raised 30,000 for a season two, is a little different than your typical scifi web series. With a low budget (under $100), the crew and cast based out of Spokane, Washington turned a one-time sketch episode into a funny scifi series unlike any you’ve seen before. Despite the name, it parodies everything scifi, not just Battlestar Galactica. The series is reminiscent of the humor of popular shows like Venture Bros., and promises for season two a bigger show with fun surprises. Click here to read an interview with co-creator Clancy Bundy or click here to listen to an interview with nearly the entire crew.
#6 – 10,000 Days
“10,000 days ago Comet 23 struck the Pacific Ocean with the magnitude of all the nuclear weapons in the world. The Beck Family was among the lucky few who survived the heat blast and fire storms. And then the freezing began. The comet had knocked Earth away from the sun; encasing the planet in snow and ice. For those who survived, life was violent and dangerous. The daily battle wasn’t just against the punishing climate but against each other for the basic necessities that meant life or death. Still, the weather was growing colder and the ice was expanding. Villages were being crushed by violent tremors. And then the Becks found an object from the past, buried deep in the ice. And with it came a choice. A choice that could either save them or destroy them.”
Written and directed by Eric Small (Penn & Teller’s: Bullshit), this post-apocalyptic series has a talented cast, great visual effects, and strong cinematography. It kind of flew under our radar until it was nominated for five IAWTV awards and one Streamy. It stars many actors you’ll recognize including Peter Wingfield (Highlander, Sanctuary), John Schneider (Smallville, Dukes of Hazzard). The green screen effects turn the stage into an epic-looking post-apocalyptic Earth, reminiscent of effects used in Spartacus or 300.
#5 – Continuum
“A beautiful young woman awakens aboard an adrift space ship with no memory of who she is or how she got there and at the mercy of the ship’s mysterious computer.”
This scifi thriller series is from Blake Calhoun, the award-winning creator of Pink and TheWB.com’s Exposed. It stars Melanie Merkosky (Lonelygirl15), Brad Hawkins (Pink) and Taryn O’Neill (After Judgement). The shows does an excellent job making us want to come back for more and hopefully a season two will become a reality. Click here to listen to an interview with Blake Calhoun.
#4 – Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time
“The Inspector and his faithful associate Piper Tate encounter the Inspector’s arch-nemesis, Boyish the Extraordinary!!”
This web series that is an unofficial spin-off/parody of the character shown on NBC’s Community – Inspector Spacetime, which is a parody of BBC’s Doctor Who. Confused? Don’t worry about it. If you are even the slightest fan of Doctor Who, then you should check out this web series. It’s a funny parody of the British show that also stands on its own as a funny scifi comedy. Click here to listen to an interview with star Travis Richey.
#3 – JourneyQuest
“Following a group of dysfunctional adventurers on a quest to discover and destroy the mythical Sword of Fighting, ‘JourneyQuest’ is a comedic adventure through the fantasy world of Fartherall, where intellectual orcs, incompetent wizards, and holy zombies form the living (and not-so-living) backdrop to an epic story of unrequited love, burning passions, and severely reluctant heroism. And running away. Lots of running away…”
From Dead Gentlemen, the makers of the popular Gamers series of movies, comes this very funny comedy set in a D&D-type world, only funnier. If you enjoy any type of pen & paper role-playing game, then you’ll likely find their antics hilarious. Season two is bigger, with over $100,000 raised for their budget, and guest stars like Fran Kranz (Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods) and MMA superstar Bob Sapp. Click here to read to an interview with producer Ben Dobyns.
#2 – Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome
Blood And Chrome is a sequel to Caprica and a prequel to the Re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series.
According to writer Michael Taylor, the series is “about a young man’s [William Adama] initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media.”
This long awaited TV pilot/web series premiered on Machinima in 2012 and awed with the virtual sets, space fights, and expansion of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica story, as we see a young Adama serving on the Galactica in its prime while fighting in the Cylon War. Hopefully, season one won’t be the end of Blood and Chrome.
#1 – H+: The Digital Series
“‘H+: The Digital Series’ takes viewers on a journey into an apocalyptic future where technology has begun to spiral out of control…. a future where 33% of the world’s population has retired its cell phones and laptops in favor of a stunning new device – an implanted computer system called H+. This tiny tool allows the user’s own mind and nervous system to be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.
But something else is coming… something dark and vicious… and within seconds, billions of people will be dead… opening the door to radical changes in the political and social landscape of the planet — prompting survivors to make sense of what went wrong.”
Warner Bros has been experimenting with web series, giving us Mortal Kombat: Legacy and more. This time, they gave us a web series proudced by Bryan Singer (X-Men) that jumps through time and around the world with a large cast and epic story of the possible future from the minds of John Cabrera (Gilmore Girls) and Cosimo De Tommaso. Click here to listen to our interview with co-creator John Cabrera.
I’m really not trying to be nice when I say it was tough. It would have been almost impossible if more of last year’s picks had come out with new seasons in 2012. So who are the runners ups? I’m glad you asked: Western X, Generic Girl, Malice, Drone, Guidestones, The Skyrim Parodies, Save the Supers, Bite Me, The Division, Video Game High School, and… I would go on, but I think you get the point of how many fantastic shows are out there right now.
With new seasons of many of the winning shows, runner-ups, and past winners in the works, it is safe to say that web series… webisodes… web television… independent television… however the heck you want to label it, is growing quickly and next year the Top 10 won’t be any easier. A few to watch out for in 2013 are: Aidan 5, Season Two; Vampire Mob, Season Three; Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time, Season Two; Ragged Isle, Season Three; Drifter, Season Two; and…. I’ll stop now before my fingers wear out from typing.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever? Then I want to know about it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s a wrap for now. Join me in 2012 for more news and interviews coming to a web site near you. Take care, my virtual friends. Until next time… marX out.
You can follow Marx on Twitter @MrMarx
Follow ScifiPulse on Twitter @SciFiPulse
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Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
- The IndieNet and Beyond – Top Ten Web Series of 2010
- The IndieNet and Beyond – Top Ten Web Series of 2011
- IndieNet and Beyond Tunes Into ‘BlackBoxTV’
- IndieNet And Beyond Goes On A ‘JourneyQuest’ With ZOE
- ‘Transolar Galactica’ Warps To The IndieNet And Beyond
Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in development for a season two of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.
Julie Seaton Pyle was born and raised in Indiana, where she attended the University of Southern Indiana. She majored in Print Journalism/Computer Publishing, while also dabbling in creative writing, literature and languages. This is also where she met Marx, the man with whom she would take the plunge into marriage and, years later, into another passion: filmmaking. She is co-producer, co-writer, and lead actress in the scifi web series Reality On Demand. She also co-hosts the popular online radio show GenreTainment.