The world does not need another dating webseries. At least not after Hell Froze Over, which is pretty much the last word on the subject. Protag Jody, played to perfection by Tracy Clifton, has decided to date every man she’s ever rejected and we get to watch. That’s the show and as an idea,…eh, as they say, it’s all in the execution. And, well, here it’s executed pretty well.
I’ll start off by saying that some eps are uneven. Production quality isn’t stellar by any means. Some perfs could use a little brushing up. In short, it isn’t perfect. But it’s very watchable, likeable and sometimes dead funny. And, frankly, Tracy Clifton, is f’ing good. Her timing, delivery and her basic portrayal of the oddly oddball Jody who seems to have no awareness of her oddity, is simply genius. Clifton has real star quality, and I don’t say that lightly.
The other standout for the series is the writer J Wilder Konschak. He has an uncanny ability to jump the shark in every episode with Jody’s reject dates. From a white-suit wearing psychopath that Jody seems to find irresistible in episode one to a persistent bleeder in the season 1 finale, there is not one dull apple in the whole rotten bunch.
The series is created by Misplaced Planet, consisting of bi-coastal creatives, Konschak, Michael Benni Pierce, Shaun Boyle and Alli Harltye. So, I want to at least acknowledge that though Konschak does the bulk of the writing, with Harltye doing some additional writing, there is most likely more than one sick mind responsible for the creation of such gems as episode 7’s, sandwich and bus humping ‘Wendel’ played by Matt McNutt. Or episode 8’s, suicidal ‘Tommy’ played by Mark Hugo, who calls Jody a, “Death tease,” after she tells him “I’m not really dressed for a suicide pact, Tommy.” A line delivered without any irony by character or actress, which makes it all the more funny and brilliant. The point is, it’s a talented bunch.
It should be noted that each of Jody’s dates are bookended with a few moments spent with Jody’s roommate and best friend Brook, played by Diana Toshiko (check out episodes one and two for her best perfs). The bookends are decidedly less funny than the actual dates, but they are basically set-up and wrap-up, so all is forgiven. There is also something nice about the idea that Jody has a bit of normalcy in her life. Especially since she has the hilariously bad instincts to do things like give her stalker her mother’s phone number as a concession for rejecting him for so long in episode 4. The stalker is incidentally played by writer Konschak and not badly so.
There isn’t much that’s bad about the show. If anything it suffers from its low budget. I mean, I’m not even sure it’s shot on HD, it’s so murky. The editing could be a little tighter, the directing, which is credited to Pierce, Boyle, and Konschak is good, not great. The acting can be a little uneven by everyone except Clifton and a few choice others – Sean Simbro as Whiskey in episode 1 is pretty good considering the freak he has to play, and Matt McNutt warms up with some good deliveries at the end of ep 7, and Garret Kirby is worth a mention in episode 2, as well.
But, overall, this so far 10-episode series which aired once a week from February 13th until April 24th is definitely worth watching. Their site, www.hellfrozeover.tv, has some extras like Jody’s blog and character interviews (two of which, Creepy Larry and Ask Brooke!, I couldn’t get to work) that are worth a quick peruse but nothing fantastic – to be honest, the lack of white balance and poor lighting kind of got under my skin. But truthfully, the site isn’t too bad, pleasant interface and a clear attempt to elevate the material on a shoestring budget.
Konschak tells me, “With sufficient viewer interest, we’d like to fund a second season [and] put out a DVD with all bonus materials.” According to him they actually have quite a following in Germany for whatever reason, so my thinking is, if you people start watching it, then contact your friends in Germany, we might all be lucky enough to enjoy more of Jody’s incredibly disturbing dates. Now wouldn’t that be nice? So get on it.