Aside from adapting paneled comics to the smaller small screen, my favorite new found genre that’s finding a life in new media is the uber short-form.
On a platform where our attention spans are constantly questioned, our concept of attention constantly changing, and an episode of a classic American sitcom becomes a far superior piece of entertainment when it’s cut down to less than 1/4 its originally running time, the proliferation of web series with installments clocking in under 120-seconds marks an evolutionary step in the advance of entertainment that would make McLuhan smile.
It’s the product of a mutual understanding between content creators and viewers. They want us to watch. We want to watch something good. And unless they’re going to spend some serious cash (or are otherwise capable of making their show awesome) the probability of worthwhile entertainment declines as episode times tick on.
So, to keep production costs at a minimum and potential viewers tuned in, some savvy creators keep their series uber short. It works for us because, if we like, we can consume multiple episodes in a single sitting. And if we don’t like, we can leave comments demanding the creators only give us two minutes of our lives back instead of five or six.
Things You Can’t Do… is a member of the genre that had potential.
Created by Erik Crary and Raj Patil for 60Frames, the series was off to a fantastic start thanks to intrinsic fanboy humor and the fact that as long as the wearer is in a location outside the Death Star, watching anyone do anything in a stormtrooper costume is amusing.
Unfortunately, the series was as short-lived as the run time of its episodes, and after four installments, 60Frames chose not to renew. I’m guessing because the view count just wasn’t there (though on average the episodes received 90K views a piece, which would seem like enough to greenlight further production, but that’s a topic for a different article), and that’s partly because Things You Can’t Do didn’t stay true to the uber-short-form.
Crary and Patil stretched out scenes a touch too long (a few to many kickspins on the yellowbelt, one too many pans back and forth in the neighbor’s home) when the beauty of the genre is that everything’s boiled down to the bare essentials.