Want edgy comedy and inspiring drama? Switch off your television.
Remember when Australian free-to-air television was really provocative and daring? When the commercial networks took risks with programming and ran intelligent, thought-provoking drama and edgy comedy that occasionally fell outside “mainstream” interests?
Nah, me neither.
So thank goodness for high speed internet and the wonders of streaming web video, or we'd all be stuck watching two-year-old, already axed American shows and endless repeats of Young Talent Time or whatever other 1980s reject they're reworking this week. (And just quietly, Channel Nine, I've got one word for you: Chances. Just think about it.)
The web has proven fertile ground for innovative and intelligent film makers from around the world, which means there is a plethora of free drama and comedy series at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.
Bored with TV? Switch on your laptop, whip out your smartphone or fire up your iPad and check out:
Everybody loves poking fun at hipsters – they eat organic tofu, wear 1990s fashion in “ironic” ways and say things like “totes amazeballs”, so laughing at them is inevitable. Even more so in this hilarious weekly web series by Australian YouTube kings Christiaan Van Vuuren (who you may remember from his 2009 “fully sick rapper” viral video) and Nick Boshier (2008 YouTube sensation “Trent from Punchy”). As permanently vagued-out Bondi Beach locals Dom and Adrian, the duo share their insights on fashion, music and picking up chicks.
The explosive premiere of this new seven-part Aussie drama, which launched on May 22, hints at a series reminiscent of terrorist thriller 24 crossed with apocalyptic horror flick 28 Days. It begins with emergency workers rushing to a violent train derailment in the centre of Sydney. But as seemingly unharmed victims pulled from the wreckage start dying of unexplained causes it becomes clear something much more sinister and mysterious is unfolding.
Lisa Kudrow may have been the least funny Friend (it's OK, we can admit that now) but she's broken new comedic ground with this improvised series in which she plays Fiona Wallace, a therapist with limited patience for people with problems. She keeps her therapy sessions – conducted via internet video chat - to a tight three minutes, leading to some very unhelpful (but very amusing) advice.
Are you a self-loathing vegan? Do you want to annoy a vegan? Try this offbeat cooking show, in which chef of indeterminate Eastern European origin “Szef Bartek” teaches you a range of recipes and kitchen skills you never knew you wanted, rapidly intercut with retro footage and music. This is probably what 1950s communist propaganda would have looked like if MTV had made it. (Also: the recipes are actually pretty good.)
Terrible name notwithstanding (it apparently stands for “where it gets interesting”), this YouTube channel was devised by Black Swan producer Jon Avnet and Sideways actress Virginia Madsen to create episodic web dramas featuring quality roles for women. So far the channel has more than 20 videos divided between two storylines starring such names as Jennifer Garner (left) and True Blood actor Stephen Moyer.
This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on June 2, 2012.