7.12.07

Break a Leg - the Sitcom

Okay, I feel like I haven't quite talked too much about Break a Leg. So I'm going to completely break it down, review-style.





As you can see from the trailer, it's about a writer named David Penn, who has just gotten his sitcom, Groomates, picked up. The whole show is basically a satire on modern-day Hollywood, with the multiple guilds, eccentric people, and of course the snuff-film actor turned porno star. Yes, it is as creepy as you think.



Now, the whole hook to this show is the fact that the naive protagonist is going to die at the end of the first season. He thinks. He's not exactly sure yet. So we go back one season, and get rid of that washed out, indie look. At this point we are introduced to our producer, Sebastian, and the director, Jennifer. Yes, Jennifer. It's Scandinavian.


The cast of BaL is mostly composed of local San Francisco actors, who were all initially gathered together to take part in Yuri Baranovsky's film Life Noir. They shot the film, but before they were able to edit it, Break a Leg (the sitcom) was born. Out of an online contest, too. By Myspace. Who does Roomates. Which Baranovsky hates. But enough of that.

The series is written by Yuri, and his brother Vlad. It's obvious that they both share their love of deadpan humour, which is the biggest draw of this show. If, for some reason you can't stand deadpan satirical humour, you should watch this show anyway.


Now I'm going to stop with the undying praise for a moment, and take a look at what really makes a Break a Leg episode. Unusual for internet shows, Break a Leg is actually filmed in a more conventional style. This is a very good thing, and something Baranovsky takes very seriously. Each episode, however, is broken up in three parts, with the latest episode, entitled "High Treason" being broken up into five pars. This is to allow release over several weeks.

The first episode introduces the characters and the hook. It provides some nice characterization, and it contains lots of archive footage cut into the actual show, similar to Arrested Development. Thus far these little clips of archive footage have been nice and humourous, I just hope it doesn't turn out like Family Guy with their overuse. Especially one the show gets into shorter length. It would be unforgivable if they sacrifice plot for laughs. Well, we'll probably forgive them anyway. They're just so damn lovable.


Thus far all their jokes have worked like clockwork. The second episode, which furthers the plot of the first, is fairly similar in substance. I had a bit more of a problem with this episode, because it was inside way too much. In this episode, a publicist hired by the network "CNC" is slandering the actors, so the actors have a sit-in. You know, like an intervention. Except everyone is sitting down.

Anyway, I personally felt like this episode lacked a bit of the lush San Francisco scenery, but we did learn about how desperate these actors were to become famous. We also learn of their camaraderie, though with a certain actor leaving in the end, and everyone else chastising the writer for vouching for his dismissal. The plot only gets more confusing from there.


Episode 3 is the onset of something horrible. I'm reminded of the Harry Potter films, but that thought immediately leaves me. (Despite both this Episode and the Harry Potter films thus far being chopped up in five parts. Coincidence? I think not.) Stuff only gets worse from the beginning of the episode, to it's (literally) explosive ending.

There's a mole in the production. What's worse, this mole has been selling the idea to another network. A rival network. So, David decides (with some prodding) to investigate. The whole turns out to be some form of conspiracy that, even with the seventh watching, I'm still not sure if I get it.


As for Episode 4, well it hasn't been released yet. However, the Break a Leg crew have been filming short little minisodes they call "Conversations". It's an actually great idea, as we get an idea of character relationships between the shows, without harming the overall plot. It's also a platform for Baranovskys and Co. to comment on current events. It's a very slick, entertaining idea.

Ultimately I like what I see. I like the professionalism they take in producing the show -- it's definitely not some teen in his mother's basement filming himself eat a goldfish with his webcam. That would be boring, simply because we've all seen it far too much. This is a wholly original idea, presented in digital form on the internet. It's humorous, and the best part: FREE. I would strongly suggest watching out for it, and for things in the future from these guys. They have a very intelligent, funny show on their hands, and I really hope they can keep it up.

Break a Leg - The Sitcom - www.breakaleg.tv

1 comment:

tagline said...

Cheers Nick, great review of "Break a Leg". I never would have found the show otherwise. I think there is a great future for this type of media - low cost quality entertainment for web / mobile.

Maybe some of the guys on the Celtx forum would be up for a collaborative webisode scriptwriting project.

Cool blog by the way,

tagline