Combining film noir, green screens, graphic novels, and stars with names you recognize appears to be the recipe du jour for web series backed by major motion picture studios.  To see the latest releases made with some of these ingredients, watch the The Cell from Sony’s online entertainment arm, Crackle or Gemini Division from NBC. 

To watch a series with them all check out Crackle’s just-launched good-cop-bad-mayor, low-dialogue drama, Coma.

Produced by Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Anonymous Content, the story goes like this: Mr. Blonde Bob Budd Lennox (played by Michael Madsen, who’s reprising that badass role that comprises 70% of his filmogrpahy) is an straight cop who looks super-cool smoking cigarettes and is on the trail of a metropolis’ crooked mayor (played by George Hamilton) who’s in league with the Mob. 

Presumably, Lennox has a gravely, stone-cold voice that would unleash a maelstrom of paranoia on whichever bad guy is close enough and still has ears to hear it, but I can’t be totally sure.  Lennox ges shot in the shoulder by an unknown assassin and slips into a coma before he can utter a single word.

And that’s the only problem with the series. 

Coma is visually stunning, stylized with slick edits, excellent special effects, and great make-up (the gunshot wound looks like it hurts and not like it makes me want to laugh), but there’s barely any dialogue (so far) and the story’s not developed enough to intrigue.  A focus on aesthetics evocative of a Frank Miller comic certainly won’t turn viewers away, but it won’t keep them tuned in. 

Where’s the plot?  How can I follow the paneled action?  Sin City had narration to lead us along (though maybe too much), why can’t Madsen growl little bits of the story as the action unfolds onscreen?

If you need a reminder of just how sweet he sounds, check him out in the self-deprecating Orange commercial below:

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