Comparing a web series to a TV show isn’t something I love to do, because the playing field is pretty uneven. But in the case of the indie series Reservation, when compared to the NBC drama Heroes, I don’t mind doing so because Reservation wins.
Directed by Matthew Balthrop of g14 Productions and distributed via Blip, Reservation tells the story of people with extraordinary abilities — and the government agency hunting them.
The approach, though, is pure character with little narrative, with each tightly-paced episode focusing on either someone with supernatural powers and how it affects their lives, or one of the agents hunting them. The closest the show has to a central protagonist is Alec Silva/Agent Pearce (Al Ghanekar), a reactivated agent whose decision to return to duty deeply complicates his personal life.
But in between vignettes about his domestic drama come portraits of people dealing with their special abilities without resorting to cliches like crime fighting or villainy. What would you do if you saw the future and it held tragedy? What’s it like to live life at sonic speed? These are some of the questions Reservation answers without relying on cliche, and as a result of this ensemble approach, the stories told are intimate and focused, shifting to drama to suspense on a dime and keeping things interesting.
The show isn’t perfect — production values are decent, but the sound design could use some work. And while the opening and closing themes are decent, the episodic music choices are pretty poor, hovering on the level of daytime soap operas. Some of the acting is also a little over the top, but the writing’s unique approach elevates some of the more amateurish elements and keeps things moving.
In short, Reservation proves a much more intriguing superhero drama than its most obvious comparison, managing to be affecting and engaging without relying on Peter Petrelli’s boyish charms or Claire the cheerleader’s bisexual experiments. Doesn’t matter what the medium is, in the end — good storytelling is good storytelling.
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