Here’s the pitch: A show that’s like David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, with slightly bumbling, wacky characters and an unconventional approach to the murder-mystery format. A unique voice, but no big stars. No wonder 15 Gigs decided to put it on the Internet first.
Directed, co-written and starring David Fickas — who’s developed branded content for MSN and also directed Strike.TV’s NSFW but crazy hilarious Buttf—er — The Iceman Chronicles covers one small rural community’s reaction to a shocking murder, focusing on the veterinarian/coroner who stands the best chance at winning the who-dun-it game. The 15 Gigs-produced series originally premiered on Hulu in August 2009, but this month got distribution on My Damn Channel as part of a larger deal with the Fox Television Studios-owned company.
Chronicles doesn’t push too hard for jokes, and while there could be more mining of laughs, the series operates on a level of comedy that allows for some subtlety and real character development. The “wacky characters” (a phrase that can often mean dramatic overacting and ridiculous accents) actually have a lot of charm, including the giggling police officer and the fedora-sporting police chief. And the central protagonist is a winner. As Russell Coldpalm, Fickas is likable, clever and so put-upon by his community that it’s easy to identify with him almost immediately. He brings a non-fat-and-shilling-for-AT&T-Luke-Wilson-ish charisma to the series.
Props to My Damn Channel, by the way, for maintaining public viewcounts, especially since it shows that Iceman Chronicles has wracked up over 85,000 total views since its launch on the site a few weeks ago (we’ll never know how many views it’s gotten during its seven months on Hulu, as those numbers aren’t made public). Because My Damn Channel content isn’t geoblocked, international audiences are getting their first taste of the show (which may or may not be helping its viewcounts), but impatient U.S. audiences can check out the complete series on Hulu now.
15 Gigs’s approach to web content is that in using Internet audiences to measure the reaction to a new series, they’re able to gauge the show’s potential for other mediums. In short, for 15 Gigs, the web is a testing ground. And the dilemma of it is this: Unique and interesting concepts do get a chance to show their potential, and potentially get acquired for broadcast adaptation, but it’s doubtful that anything beyond the six episodes of Chronicles currently online will be produced strictly for the web. Which is a shame, because while the premise could easily get lost in the mix in a primetime schedule, it’s a quirky concept, the kind that easily finds a home on the web.
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