Couch Cases - stills 1Take a dysfunctional therapist with no people skills, add her neurotic clients, her wise-cracking best friend, and a host of boytoy hotties, and you’ve got Couch Cases, the new comedy web series from creators Patrick Ortman and Kathi Funston. Following a traditional sitcom aesthetic, Couch Cases previewed to an impressive view count on YouTube in October, but has its official “wide release” on January 15th.

Devotees of shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine will want to be on hand for the big event. As Patrick Ortman says, “Kathi and I are huge sitcom fans. And we wanted to write something that fit in with the smart, funny shows you see on TV… something cinematic like Sex & the City. We aimed high.”

Kathi Funston, who also stars as Dr. Amy in the series, adds, “My writing and acting were definitely influenced by some of the great shows like Friends and Gilmore Girls.” The Texan, asked why so many Hollywood actors hail from the Lone Star state, says, “We’re people people. We can’t help it. We love to entertain. Ain’t nothing else I can say about that. Hey, y’all!”

Couch Cases - stillsThe two came up with the show’s concept over beers once night, and, armed with the RED One camera Ortman had recently purchased for his commercial production company, Genius Monkeys, set out to shoot their “micro-version of a TV show” with a small budget and an even smaller crew. With Funston in front of the camera, and Ortman behind (he shot, edited, and did his own special effects), they managed to get several episodes in the can.

Judging from the poll on the show’s site inviting viewers to vote on which hottie Amy should date, it’s likely we’ll see some interactive elements introduced in the future. “We would absolutely be open to letting our fans influence our story lines,” says Ortman. “And we have all sorts of ideas about how to engage our audience beyond the episodes themselves.”

Ortman is something of a pioneer in the digital world. His company, emptystreet, was founded in 1993 as one of the first web design companies on the planet. He also created the mobisode series Deliverance by the Slice for Sprint.

Asked about the differences between creating for mobile phones and creating for the web, he says, “It’s all storytelling, but of course we had a lot of technical limitations with the mobisodes due to the medium. What’s exciting to me now is seeing the evolution of video on the Web. We can create stories that are much more cinematic and visually interesting and deliver them to people whether they’re at their computer, on their iPhone, or sitting in front of their television. Technology is finally getting to where it can almost keep up with one’s imagination, and that’s pretty cool.”

While the duo say Couch Cases was developed specifically for the web, Ortman sighs, “Oh, the things we could do with the $50,000 per minute budget of a typical network sitcom!” Check out the trailer (above) for Couch Cases, which premieres Thursday January 15th at couchcases.com.

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