As one of my favorite web series begins airing new episodes – today, actually – I decided to take a look back on internet media and the plethora of great shows that are starting as web series and turning into more. Before writing this blog, I realized I didn’t quite have a large enough list, so I went looking for more, found some great (and not so great) series and then recognized just how many of today’s popular shows either started as web series or had their own spin-offs or episodes which could only be found online. The SyFy show Sanctuary began as a web series. Who knew?

This list is varied with comedy, sci fi, drama, reality, and even even a little bit of romance mixed in. The shows are quirky, sometimes bizarre, and definitely not the same boring thing you’re used to watching. The truth is when it comes to web media, there’s something out there for everyone; you just have to find it.

1) The Guild

My favorite web series by far, The Guild, is what started my recent obsession with web content. The Guild follows six people who met online through an MMORPG (styled after World of Warcraft) and formed a guild called “The Knights of Good”. The characters are quite possibly the biggest tropes you could imagine when it comes to gamers and the show’s lighthearted “poking fun at itself” tone keeps it from being offensive. It definitely gets better with age; I wasn’t too thrilled with the first season, but I had someone who was encouraging me to keep watching.

And I’m glad I did.

The more I watched the more the characters grew on me and the utter absurdity made me giggle, roll my eyes, and want to strangle the characters in my frustration with some of their antics. I am almost excited about today’s premiere of Season 6 as I was about Series 7 of Doctor Who premiering.

Written by Felicia Day, The Guild is definitely aimed at roleplayers, both MMO and table top players should be able to follow it just fine, but non-roleplaying nerds who know “the type” should be able to enjoy it, as well. In addition to the actual episodic content, the series also has music videos and has expanded into a comics series released from Dark Horse comics.


Genre:
Comedy
Rating: R, mostly for sexual innuendo and language. Definitely watch it before you let kids under age 15 or 16 watch.
Years: 2007 – Present
# of Seasons: 6
Episodes per Season: 10 – 12
Running Time: 3 – 13 minutes per episode
Where to Watch: Seasons 1 – 5 can be found on youtube at watchtheguild, watchtheguild.com, xBox Live Marketplace, iTunes, Netflix, and DVD from the Geek & Sundry Shoppe.
Season 6 premiered TODAY on the Geek & Sundry website and youtube channel. New episodes will be released every Tuesday!

Season 2 Trailer:

2) Husbands

Husbands is a sitcom created and written by Jane Espenson (Buffy, Firefly, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Warehouse 13) and Brad Bell. It focuses on a newly dated gay couple living in (an unfortunately) alternative universe in which marriage equality exists. After a crazy weekend in Vegas, the couple wakes up to find themselves married and must deal with the fall out. It’s a fantastic spin on the classic newlywed sitcom which also deals with stereotypes about homosexuality and being comfortable with yourself. The show has several guest stars including: Mekhi Pfifer, Joss Whedon, Felicia Day, Dichen Lachman, and Nathan Fillion.

Both seasons are quick watches totaling 30 – 45 minutes each. So far, there hasn’t been news about a third season, but it was hinted at Dragon*Con that it’s in the works. It was also announced that Dark Horse Comics is going to be releasing a comic book series based on the show.

Genre: Sitcom
Rating: R, mostly for sexual innuendo and language. Definitely watch it before you let kids under age 15 or 16 watch.
Years: 2011 – Present
# of Seasons: 2
Episodes per Season: Season 1: 11; Season 2: 3
Running Time: Season 1: 1 – 3 minutes each; Season 2: 8 – 10 minutes
Where to Watch: Several places, but I watched it all on youtube at GoCheeksGo. Convenient playlists: season 1 and season 2.

Season 1 Teaser:

3) Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is a musical tragicomedy written by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse, etc), his brothers Zack Whedon and Jed Whedon, and writer/actress Maurissa Tancharoen. It’s a three act story about an aspiring supervillan Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), his archnemesis Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), and their mutual love interest Penny (Felicia Day). It’s quirky, romantic, and well… quite honestly… I loved it. The three part miniseries aired in its entirety in 2008 and runs a mere 42 minutes for all three episodes. It does have an explicit tag on iTunes, but I don’t remember there being too terribly much in the way of questionable language. It might ring in at a strong PG-13.

You can find the entire series on iTunes or on Netflix; I believe it’s available through hulu and (unofficially) youtube and other sites as well. The soundtrack is also still available on iTunes.

4) The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator is a motion comic created by Edgar Wright (director, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), Tommy Lee Edwards (illustrator, Marvel and Lucasfilms), and audiences. It was a collaborative project with viewers submitting ideas in the form of text, drawings, voice mail messages, recordings, etc. It’s definitely… bizarre, bordering on existential and a bit noir. I don’t recommend this one for kids. The artwork, though, is simply gorgeous, and you could spend hours digging through all of the material there. The premise is simple: Brandon Generator is an unsuccessful writer, struggling with creativity problems, and downing far too much espresso. He essentially puts himself into a caffeine coma one day and this series is what happens to him.

I really did enjoy watching it and can see myself going back for inspiration drawn from the music, images, and other material gathered by the community.

The site does recommend using IE9, but I was able to play through the first three episodes just fine on Firefox. The fourth episode was having an issue playing over the menu music, even switching to the recommended IE9. I’m assuming it was some issue with my laptop itself as I was able to get it to play on an iPad just fine.

Genre: Motion Comic, Horror, Noir
Rating: R, for… uh… insanity.
Years: 2012
# of Seasons: 1
Episodes per Season: 4
Running Time: approximately 7 minutes.
Where to Watch: brandongenerator.com

Teaser Trailer:

As I near my second hour working on this entry, I’ve decided to hold off on the second half of my list until later this week. This should be enough to keep you busy as I plug away working on selections 5 – 9. Let me know what you think!

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