Monday, June 11, 2012

Web Series Review: L5

Status: One Episode Completed
Credits: Stanley Von Medvey (Creator/Director), Tom Ptasinski (Creator/Writer/Producer), Will Finson (Cmdr. Richard Adams), Chad Burns (Rodney Lewis)

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars (Highest Rating)

Synopsis: This hard science fiction mini-series follows a deep space expedition that returns to a dying Earth two hundred later than its scheduled return date after exploring Barnard’s Star in hopes of finding a new home for the human race. Once the ship is back in Earth’s orbit, though, the crew can see no signs of life on the planet and they receive no radio communication. They encounter a large O’neill cylinder-colony in orbit known as L5 that appears equally lifeless, and two members of the expedition head there to try and find some answers.

Review/Commentary:  L5 is an ambitious, space-based, sfx-heavy web series that has turned to the sci fi fan community for donations to fund its production costs. Their campaign to raise money for the first episode was a success and now we see the results of those efforts. And what magnificent results they are!

I have seen many rumblings across fandom over the past year or so that there is a dearth of space-based, hard sci fi available, and this independent production nicely fills that void. The first episode runs about thirty minutes and introduces us to the crew of the Argo (particularly Commander Richard Adams and the ship’s doctor Rodney Lewis) as they return to Earth from their extended mission and find that much more time has passed than they expected and something seems to have happened to the people of Earth. This episode sets up the bigger tale that will follow, but it does so without dragging out or bogging itself down with expository details. It is a grand tale that L5 seeks to deliver, but in the first episode it unfolds with a cramped, almost claustrophobic feel to it (by necessity due to the budget limitations). But this actually lends to the atmosphere of the show and sets up a good direction for the series to follow.

L5 was definitely made on a budget and that shows at times, but then it never feels cheap. In fact, compared to other web series, this one blows them away with its production values and it can nearly stand toe-to-toe with some of the professionally produced series on the broadcast and cable channels. The directing is tight and well-paced, and the acting is quite good. And the series manages to deliver a little of the spectacle that sci fi fans crave, yet on an economical budget. This is definitely one to keep an eye on as new episodes roll out and one that could be a trailblazer among independent web productions. We often complain that there is too little in the way of quality sci fi out there, but L5 and other web series like Pioneer One and Cell are delivering just that, so it is up to us to support them.

Links/More Information: The first episode can be downloaded for free via bitorrent at this link: You can also stream the episode, if you prefer, for a small contribution (I paid the $5 and it was definitely worth it). That same link will direct you to the streaming option. You can also follow the progress of the show at its production blog and its Facebook page.

Download or stream the first episode of L5 at this link

Follow the series at its production blog at this link

Like the series at its Facebook page at this link

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