What do you do when the mysterious death of your father causes your oh so grounded Beverly Hills 90210 life to come to an end? Suddenly you find yourself in a new town, going to a new school where you get picked on by mean girls and slipped the occasional roofie. But hey, this is high school, stuff like this happens and sometimes you just need to walk it out.
Enter Oldburry Hill. “During Senior year at Oldbury Hill Academy, forbidden love will change lives, friends and enemies will be made, clues will start to unravel, an ancient mystery will be revealed, and someone will find out who they really are!” Starting this Sunday on the WB…er wait. My bad. I forgot where I was for a second. I thought I was watching a preview for something that comes on after Dawson’s Creek. And believe it or not, from me, that’s not a put down. I’ll admit to some occasional tissue usage (to wipe my tears you pervs!) as I watched Rorie Gilmore grow up. She and Lorelai really touched me. But I digress…
The show follows Maggie Phelps, a seventeen-year-old High School student who suddenly has to move to Oldburry Hill – an historical New England town harboring a centuries-old dark secret – with her younger sister and their mother after her father was murdered. It is kind of a magical realism, mystery, teenage romance all rolled into one as it spans 20, 3-4 minute episodes.
Oldburry Hill has a huge cast with a really wide range in ages and, for the most part, it’s well acted. Here we have a group of people who really are theatrically minded and each does a good job at playing his or her role.
An example of this can be seen in Episode II – The Sleepover. Here, Maggie’s little sister is having a sleepover with her friends where they do the typical sleepover stuff, put on too much makeup, joke around, and tell scary stories. All of these young girls do a convincing job of being at a sleepover. At no time did I feel like I was watching any of them act out a role of a younger person at a sleepover. The same can be said for the majority of actors in this series. I would argue that this is quite an accomplishment for a web-based serial, showing promise for legitimizing the medium a as a serious art from.
The camera work is also very smooth and non distracting, the dialogue is believable, and the storyline, although sometimes cheesey, but not too much, moves along at a good pace. I especially like the show’s animated and moody intro.
Oldbury Hill is is a creation of of OurTvSpace (offspring of OurFilmSpace) based out of Sturbridge Massachussetts. I think OurTvSpace has done something right in their approach to making creative web projects. That’s their desire to work with the local, already existing creative community. Their mission statement reads: “to develop, market and distribute: i) high-quality original web video series through collaborations with the creative community; ii) targeted niche video networks and programs; iii) web commercials and advertising; and iv) branded entertainment worldwide in anticipation of digital convergence.”
Rather than spending energy and resources to track down and transport outside talent, the company seemingly maintains a relationship with people that are already avid actors and writers and artists in the community and I would think this would be a mutually beneficial strategy. The OurTvSpace has a rich and already existing resource to pull from and they provide resources and an outlet for these local creative types to express themselves: “The company has an approximately 5,000 square foot studio, complete with green screen, screening room, larte open space, and offices.”
Oldbury HIll‘s target audience is the teen school crowd and I think they’ve hit their mark. After watching the series, I’m genuinely looking forward to see what new things OurTvSpace comes up with.