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Genre in general … on the web

Last week found me mired in dystopian cinema. One side effect, other than a few bad dreams, was simply more thought devoted to genre in general. It’s summer, when genre really rears its head! Romantic comedy becomes somehow even more romantic, horror feels … horrific, the science fiction film is as big and real as the block-busting multiplex screen it was born to illuminate.

But what about the small screen? How much, in other words, has film genre really permeated the web?

Clearly, we all know that a certain strand of comedy is alive and well on the internet. Think Will Ferrell and his toddler daughter Pearl, yukking it up a few years back on funnyordie.com.

The Landlord from Will Ferrell

Don’t get me wrong – this bit is still so hilarious that I laugh out loud. But just how far has comedy expanded on the web since then? I would characterize the Ferrell skit as just that, a skit – with a slapstick quality that clearly plays well. (We all know that gross-out humor goes down easy too – fast and disgusting seemed to do the trick for a while.) But things might be changing. This year’s Webbie for best comedy went to the satire Children’s Hospital, and Best Comedic Performance to Lisa Kudrow for the dialogue-based, performance-focused Web Therapist (See both here – it must be noted that this year’s Webbie winners for series were dominated by network and cable television entities, or by celebrities. This was not the case in years past.)

Both of these series are great – and evidence that comedy is starting to move beyond high-concept, one-joke slapstick. Slower, darker comedy? Not quite yet, that I have found.

How about the Western on the web? A great series that ended after four episodes (read their blog to find out why) is thewestside.tv. I could even riff on my dystopia bender here and categorize this as mildly apocolyptic, given the fact that the Brooklyn locations are absolutely desolate, an incredible production feat. Watch it here.

For a scare, I would try Stephen King’s N. It’s short and sharp and leaves you wanting more.

In terms of science fiction, it feels a little thin out there. Condition: Humanhas a great look but some stilted performances and little narrative progression. The Crew, a science fiction comedy (Star Trek meets The Office) is not quite there comedically. Hope for, er, the future? The NYT technology blog reported recently on an upcoming Ridley Scott series based on BLADE RUNNER. In the meantime, there are millions of series to wade through. Of course Green Porno on this very site is one absolutely worth watching, categorized by the Webbies this year as “Best Experimental.” Leave a comment if you find something else genre-inspiring.

–AH