Comedy TV is Dead

Last Friday saw the release of Wayside Creations latest new series “Aperture R&D” – a promising, but so far, flawed web comedy “based in the world of Portal 2”

Aperture R&D is (presumably) set before the events of Valve’s subversive 2007 first-person puzzler, and chronicles the (not so average) workdays of the scientists in Aperture’s mysterious “F-22” lab.

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As simply an idea on paper, Aperture R&D is nothing short of genius – providing Wayside an established, fleshed out and recognisable setting that still allows for the creative freedom to tell an original story and establish a new lore. In practice however, a good idea requires great execution, and it’s here that Aperture R&D is prone to stumble.

Opting to follow the direction of the more broadly appealing but shallower humour of Portal 2, Aperture R&D at times feels like it’s going too far – the dialogue and humour itself is very middle of the road, relying on exactly the kind of over-the-top characters and setups you’d find in a bad Will Ferrel movie (The Underdogs VS the Smarmy Rivals). It would have been nice for some of the original Portal’s darker, more subtle humour to find its way into the episode – without it, the Portal themed window dressing feels just that – skin deep.

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On top of this, some poor editing and sound choices curb a lot of the great comedy moments. The pacing of the banter is just slightly off, creating some stilted pauses. Jokes that rely on snappy short-reverse-shot exchanges fall flat, and there’s a constant bed of chirpy, daytime comedy music that undermines some otherwise successful comic pauses.

It’s a rough start for the series, but one full of potential also. The fatalistic knowledge we as an audience have about the true goings on at Aperture Science creates a wealth of potential for intelligent and subversive humour to sneak its way into future episodes, and until that point, Aperture R&D is fun (if thoughtless) and full of likeable (but predictable) characters.

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It’s not quite pick of the week material, but episode one, which you can watch here is definitely worth your time (8:33) as an audience. It doesn’t break new ground, but I think there’s a good chance later episodes will. Watch this space to find out if I’m right.

♦ End