October 21st, 2012
I bookmarked H+ The Digital Series a few weeks ago, but only got round to watching it yesterday evening:
A groundbreaking new series by acclaimed producer Bryan Singer, 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 the world's population has retired its cell phones and laptops in favor of a stunning new device by Hplus Nano Teoranta, an innovative technology company that has found a way to connect the Internet to the human mind 24 hours a day.
The production values are reasonably high and as the series has been running for three months now there are enough 5 minute episodes up that you can dive in and watch a run of them to get an idea of the scope and style of the story. Which brings me to the problems: one story-related, and one structural.
First the story: simply put, I've watched the first dozen episodes and the story they're telling us has the stink of FlashForward/The Event all over it. A big world-changing event arriving out of the blue, nobody letting us in on how it happened or why, but with hints being dropped that at least one recurring character knows more than they're letting on. Stories happening in different parts of the world, and involving (apparently) unrelated groups of characters. None of those things precludes this turning into an interesting story, but after so many shows tried and failed to replicate the Lost effect it's only natural to be a little gun-shy.
The structural issue is trickier. Strip out the title sequence and the credits and there's only some 3:30 of story per episode. Essentially, you find yourself getting a couple of scenes with a character/group and then there's an enforced switch to a different person, place and point in the timeline. Even if I disregard the fact that once I've caught up I'm going to have to wait a week between these tiny chunks of story, breaking your story up into such small chunks does the rhythm of the storytelling no favours. Little cryptic snippets of story are fine for seeding the initial mystery, but it doesn't leave characters much room to breathe as the situation gets more complicated.
I suppose that there's a bright side to this – if you find one particular story thread dull then you can rest assured another one will be along within 5 minutes1 but I do wonder how well they'll be able to tell their story as it gets more involved.
They've done enough in the first dozen episodes that I'm willing to stick around and find out, though, which is a start.
- Or within a week, if you've caught up. ↩