Safety Geeks:SVI, the effects-laden green screen comedy web series put out by Pith-e Productions, tracks an “elite” squad of accident investigators and safety professionals who usually cause more trouble than they’re worth. When we covered the launch of the series a couple of months ago, we highlighted it’s main boast: a record-setting number of visual effects. So far, four out of a planned 12 episodes of Safety Geeks have been released. So how does the show hold up?
The offbeat characters in Safety Geeks do an ample job of pulling out a few chuckles. There certainly is nothing safe about this team of screw-ups. One thing’s for sure: whether landing a plane in a parking lot or simply opening a door, destruction won’t be far behind. First up is Reginald Syngen-Smithe (David Beeler), a British billionaire with a nack for unintentionally hurting people. The character is clueless and as a result, leaves behind a trail of slap-stick comedy that would make Frank Drebin proud. For example, when the character bends over to pick up a flashlight he accidentally trips Giant Provisions’ (think Costco) owner, Mr. Giant Provision. Beeler does a adept job of capturing the character’s not-so-serious nature while working the part of a dimwit — a passing reminder of the golden days of John Cleese in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In fact, that can be said for the entire main cast. Budwin W. Yacker (Tom Konkle) is a character with some serious childhood issues, but then anyone who saw a man’s arms ripped off during a circus probably would be. His flashbacks and inner-monologues deliver what could be an interesting story-arch as the series develops while putting the show’s edgy-foot forward. Konkle fits Yacker’s shoes well and never breaks character. Benton Jennings serves the Brit manservant flavor with cunning precision. Rounding things out, is the sexy Dr. Randi Minky, played by former Playboy playmate Brittney Powell, whose jokes mostly consist of sexual innuendos and seductive body-movements. Powell shows herself to be a very competent actress and fits right in with the veteran improv crowd.
The storyline for the show is still gearing up by the fourth episode and it is still hard to tell where this show is going. After an accident in Giant Provisions’ Costco-like warehouse, the three-person Professional Occupational Safety Hazard Team, or P.O.S.H., goes to check it out. That’s about it. The jokes spliced in-between plot-points serve as the real meat in this C.S.I-meets O.S.H.A. spoof.
The show’s writing is little more geared towards a punch line than a plot that makes the viewer care. What about the jokes? Do they come off well? Is the show a laughing riot that will make you fall over and roll on the floor? The answer: sometimes. Those who like the absurdity and slapstick moments from the Hot Shots or Naked Gun series, and enjoy props like visibly taped-on kneecaps, will get a kick out of Safety Geeks. Shocker moments from Yanker’s past will take the viewer by surprise and no-doubt elicit at least one “OMG” facial expression. Powell’s sexual dynamo of a character definitely fills the role of…well… eye-candy, and while she performs the personality well, the character falls flat on the funny-side. Sexual innuendos abound in this web show, so if that’s your gig, go for it, but they didn’t draw out more than a little ha-ha from me.
Finally, the show definitely does have a host of visual effects. Settings, explosions, virtual airplanes, forklifts, and cars are all prominent in Safety Geeks. Some of these effects, such as virtual backgrounds with little color, come off well. One particularly impressive effect was the chrome plane, Safety One, which looked polished. Clearly, a lot of time was spent developing this model and one has to admire all the effort that went into producing the show’s visual effects. However, other settings like that of the Giant Provisions’ store and warehouse, look fuzzy and provide a harsh contrast with our moving characters who stand out from the background like a paper doll cut-out.
Some of the visual effects also suffer from clunky animation. In one scene, Safety One causes massive destruction in the store parking-lot. Here, the scene starts off with some fantastic visuals but bouncing cars and few textures make everything look a little odd. Maybe that’s the point of the show. Green-screen is still the way to go because chaos is expensive to produce live, but a little more time spent polishing the show’s somewhat wonky physics would serve Safety Geeks well.