Brought to the web in April 2006 by Shaun O’Rourke (who plays lead Alex Dekker and whose voice you might recognize from a laundry list of Japanese anime features) and Charles Stewart Jr. (who started Eleven Bravo Productions with Sheila Brothers after a stint in the army and a short career as a television news cameraman), the episodic, police drama was one of the first web series to make waves online.
For those not familiar with this gem from the earlierish days of online video, all you need to do is imagine Miami Vice crossed with the current network television police drama of your choice highlighted by a healthy dose of canned Hollywood storytelling devices and plot points. That will give you a good feel for what Port City P.D. is all about.
As the series begins, we find Dekker paired with his new partner Detective Williams (played by Raymond Shepard) who looks imposing enough to have been a recurring character on Baywatch.
The pair – along with a hefty supporting cast featuring the usual gang of angry superior officers, criminals, and love interests – try to solve various crimes, including one of very personal interest to Dekker. Port City, their apparently fictional home (the series is shot in Wilmington, NC) provides the mandatory neo-noir background.
Unfortunately, you can no longer find Port City online (the embed above is one of very few artifacts left of the series’ life on the internet). After bouncing around from domain to domain more often than an military officer’s kid changes school districts (first it was on PortCityPD.com, then PodShow.com, and then Mevio.com), the episodes were finally taken offline after investors couldn’t wrangle up the funds for a full second season. But when the contract between said investors and producers expired, O’Rourke, Stewart, and Brothers began shopping.
In early January, along with Creative Entertainment & Media, Port City‘s creators found a buyer. The America Unleashed satellite network picked up the series for primetime viewing in 16 countries (including England, Germany, France, and Italy) and an estimated 120 million homes, reports Amy Hotz.
The show’s producers and principals at CEM are retooling the original 12 installments of Port City (which were initially shot for $40,000) into nine, 24-minute episodes suitable for television. The hope is the show will generate enough interest in those new markets for the creators to take home a “chunk of change” to make season two.
CEM CEO, Bidwell C. Tyler II is confident the series will do well overseas: “I just think that the Europeans are just so intrigued with what goes on here in the U.S., especially shows like this…They stay up till two in the morning to watch them.”
So fear not, independent content creators. If your web series fails to maintain an audience in the US, it could still have a shot across the pond.