I sometimes question the usefulness of teaser campaigns for comedy web-series. I actually have no proof for their effectiveness or lack thereof and if I was launching my own web series I’m sure I’d be tempted to make my own teaser trailer. But it’s not like you need to entice your audience to leave their house to watch a web-show; your audience can watch your show on a bus with their dry cleaning if they like – maybe that’s exactly where they’ll watch it. After a friend of theirs tweets about how good it is. This is a new paradigm after all.
Also if you build up your show enough there’s the chance that the real product won’t live-up to expectations and I’ll be a horribly let down when I have to review it. That’s right, me. That’s the reason I almost didn’t want to watch episode one of Lisa and Kate Know Better Than You – I mean The Actress Diaries – actually as soon as those words came out of Lisa’s mouth I started to feel better. I was getting worried by the wobbly cam, opening out-of-date static effect and highly forced presentation style. The trailer had promised humourous and charming vignettes – slices of borderline surreal failure in the uncomfortable world of auditioning. And now it looked like two people doing stiff improv.. “No wait”, I thought! it just looked like crap temporarily. I see what’s happening here!..
We open with a videocam shot of Kate and Lisa sitting down addressing their audience. They’re putting on a show and trying hard to impress, the two are acting the part of presenters but despite their best efforts the façade begins to crack in their performance. They’re actresses yes, but not very good ones, and neither of them seems to be acknowledging it. They’re also waitresses filming themselves in an empty restaurant booth. Their unknown but presumably admiring audience may begin to see through the slick and practised demeanour as time goes on. The dynamic between the two characters is obvious immediately and works very well. Lisa Kimberley Hughes is the energising force behind the on screen couple. Kate Bateman is incredibly charming but somewhat detached from the proceedings of reality. We look at them through our eyes, as they try and sell themselves through theirs. They’re both stars.. but only in their own minds.
The episode plays off this brilliantly as we get to the point of the diary itself. It turns out Kate and Lisa are US giving tips on how to successfully audition as we cut to extracts from their appalling and hilarious auditioning failures. The direction is skilful, shooting the two from a neutral perspective allowing reality to provide all the context we need to understand they’re more than a little hopeless. The juxtaposition between their narrative, and their shockingly bad auditions and their hopeful, try-hard-professional persona’s creates a huge potential for great comedy.
Episode 1 doesn’t waste time with an obnoxious, unnecessary intro sequence. It’s punchy. With varied locations. Good acting and the directing isn’t bad. Sound quality is good. The episode has a beginning, a middle and an end which wraps up nicely. That’s it for the technical paragraph then.
I guess the only thing left to say is that episode 1 is always hard and it looks like The Actress Diaries got over the bump fine. If there’s something to improve it might be the slight over acting by Lisa Hughes (playing Lisa Hughes). Part of the draw of the series has got to be the genuine feel of both main characters and sometimes the challenging lead role, that demands high energy causes Lisa to lose a little bit of sincerity.
This is a great first episode not only because it’s funny and unique but it establishes two great characters that share a goal. You should definitely check out the series at youtube if you haven’t already.
And follow the twitter here because tomorrow is Thursday and that can only mean one thing – it’s episode 2 of the actress diaries! You don’t want to be late to tweet how good it was.