Tony Hand is the most bizarre concept for a web series I’ve seen yet: A severed hand that is a motivational speaker with a sordid past is being investigated by a slightly narcissistic documentary filmmaker named Newton Lowe who seems to be a cross between Geraldo Rivera and Nick Broomfield. Created by Seth Kurland, a writer-producer for such sitcoms as 8 Simple Rules and Friends, and showing on Strike.TV, this series is…not that great.
Per his production notes, Kurland is new to the medium and recently learned how to use green screen, which is probably the most impressive thing about the show as the disembodied hand in its orange wool glove, dances, balances and pontificates to his audience from atop a stool on a stage. Other fine uses put Newton in Saudi Arabia, Riverside Park in New York and elsewhere.
Beyond that, the show is basically just very odd and unfunny. In the first episode, Newton introduces Tony Hand as the topic of this expose. He also explains that he’s been criticized for being as much a topic of his docs as his subjects are, a la Nick Broomfield. Though, in truth this set-up doesn’t really have a pay-off, throughout the two episodes that have been produced, I never really get a sense of Newton stealing the show, which in some ways might help with the comedy. But I digress.
The episode goes on to introduce us to Tony Hand, even going so far as to show us a snippet of his motivational speaking, which is nothing remarkable and though attempts are made, there is nothing funny to be found here. Then, in an interview with a Saudi Arabian police officer, played by the same person that plays Newton (I’m guessing this is Kurland), we learn that Tony has a criminal past as the hand of a Saudi Arabian pickpocket. After being lopped off by the authorities, the hand escapes and runs off to America and eventually becomes a motivational speaker. I’m sure there are more details, but frankly I really don’t want to have to go back and watch the show to figure them out.
To be honest, I’m having trouble coming up with anything to write about this show, because I think and sort of hope it dies a quiet death after the promised third episode. I would imagine the Kurland has considerable writing talents to have written on both 8 Simple Rules and Friends, but unfortunately they are not at use here. I guess the important lesson to be learned from this is that though small and nascent, web content requires the same level of thought and care of any other medium. And okay, it’s cheap, so you can create anything, but does that mean you actually go out and create anything?
And as for Strike.TV, they have some good shows, but they also have some really bad shows and I have to wonder why they aren’t more discerning. Interestingly enough, the two shows that pop to mind as bad are Tony Hand and Life in General, both created by successful television writers. It just goes to show that web content is a completely new medium with its own set of rules, rules that need to be a) respected and b) learned. It’s a new skillset, one that’s being defined by a new generation of creators, so either figure it out, or get out of the way, because with shows like this it just feels like internet clutter. Not to mention the fact that if someone watches this as an intro to what web content can be, I’m not sure they’ll be coming back for more.