Financed by producer/creator Marcus Blakely and the four members of Big Fantastic, Sam Has 7 Friends follows the storyline of Sam, her friends, and their friends as they go about their lives and deaths. It was made known that Sam would die on December 15, 2006 from the first episode of the first season and intrigue (and more death) has followed the characters ever since.
The four writer/directors each took the reigns of four different storylines revolving around Sam: her best friend Dani (Chris Hampel), her boyfriend Patrick (Chris McCaleb), her ex-boyfriend Willie (Ryan Wise), and her acting career (Douglas Cheney).
If the creators of Lonelygirl15 had started out with an actual production budget, they probably would have made something like Sam Has 7 Friends, which feels less like an online independent serial and more like Melrose Place, in a good way. It has different production squads, original music, cinematography, professional lighting, a large ensemble cast of good actors, and a good storyline. That’s already a miraculous combination for an online dramatic series born in 2006. On top of that, it featured new episodes daily while it was in production. While the first season has a murder mystery as its hook, it’s the drama behind the series that will keep you watching.
Take the first season as an example. Viewers knew that Sam would be killed. But new episodes every weekday for four months had us watching the show’s many characters to figure out who was going to do it and why. Would it have to do with Vera, who’s sleeping with Sam’s boyfriend? Would it be related to Scott, a neighbor who became increasingly obsessed with Sam, or his jealous girlfriend Holly? Is there something darker behind her agent Roman’s arrogant veneer? As online serials go, this is a platform that works.
My honest suggestion is to watch the episode where Sam is killed off and then start the series. It’s shocking but ruins no surprises and gives nothing of the storylines away, but it will definitely whet your appetite for more. If that viewing technique seems to unconventional, just watch from the beginning. Either way, it’s worthwhile.
Studio/Network: Independently produced, but later purchased by Vuguru
Production Company: Big Fantastic
Principal Crew: Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb, Ryan Wise, Douglas Cheney
Principal Cast: Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb, Ryan Wise, Douglas Cheney
Launch Date: August 28, 2006
Status: The first season ended on December 15, 2006, but after Vuguru purchased the rights to the series, all episodes were taken down from the show’s website and the various video sharing sites where the series was distributed. A second season was planned but has not gone into production.