In 2013, when Netflix announced that they were adapting BBC's miniseries House of Cards, there were doubts. Could an internet streaming service create a television series on par with those from major networks? The answer was, of course, yes. House of Cards has won a staggering amount of awards. Then came Amazon Instant, and—after a few stumbles—they hit it big with The Man in the High Castle. Evidently, the Netflix model could be copied. Now every other streaming service is looking to be the next one to create a fantastically popular original series.
Last Sunday, I went to the theater to see Hidden Figures. It was alright, but that's not what I'm reviewing. In the previews before the movie, they showed an advertisement for all the "great content" I could be seeing on YouTube Red. Having skimmed the YouTube Red selection before, I don't think that's true.
At some point, I got a YouTube Red free trial. I don't remember how. I'm going to use that free trial to review every single series or distinct piece of video content on YouTube Red, which at the time of this writing, comes to twenty seven. Here's four of them.
The Game Theorists' MatPat's GAME LAB
Everyone's favorite game overthinker, other than the one actually named The Game Overthinker, is back with a new YouTube series called GAME LAB. You might think this YouTube series might be about something related to theories about games, but it's actually about re-enacting things from video games in real life to find out if "the game stacks up to reality." This is almost certainly copying the Rooster Teeth series Immersion, which has been going on since 2011. This itself was almost certainly inspired by Mythbusters, which you already know about. This third degree imitation has episodes based on playing soccer with cars à la Rocket League (where they just play the real-life game of car soccer), try to break into a building like one might do in WATCH_DOGS 2 (where they just talk to pentesters to learn how pentesting works), and sword fight like in For Honor (where they... sword fight). It's a dumb, uninteresting series with little relation to the video game itself.
In Immersion, the question they're asking is "Can you drive a car in third person?" or "Can you eat food to regain health in real life?", while in GAME LAB, they're asking "Does sword fighting exist?" In Mythbusters, they're asking "Could a steam-powered machine gun be constructed?" or "Could a snowplow flip a car?", while in GAME LAB they're testing "Could a haunted house be scary?" There's nothing to find out. There's nothing to test. It's just MatPat and other famous annoying YouTube gamers getting free sword fighting lessons on YouTube's dime.
SeaNanners' The Paranormal Action Squad
Gaming YouTubers get a badly animated Ghostbusters ripoff, oh boy! I really can't communicate how bad the animation is if you haven't seen it. It's the kind of thing that wouldn't look out of place in a Zap Dramatic game. The jokes are bad, the acting—if you can call it that—is bad, and hearing aging YouTube Let's Players call each other by their channel names while pretending that their new show about a team of four people who go around getting rid of ghosts is novel or funny is depressing. It's definitely not as good as Ghostbusters. Either one.
Good Mythical Morning's Rhett & Link's Buddy System
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal are the only people on YouTube Red as far as I know who aren't strangers to TV. Though you probably haven't seen their IFC show Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings, you've probably seen the Chuck Testa commercial it produced. Their new show, Buddy System, is about something related to magic powers and lost phones. There's a musical interlude in each episode, as is par for the course for these two. It reminds me of Wayne's World, though I can't pin down exactly why. Perhaps because it's two stars of a television—or YouTube—show who go on an adventure opposite an evil business person who wants to destroy them. I don't know. It's not really my thing, but it's not as completely repulsive as most other things on YouTube Red seem to be.
College Humor's Bad Internet
This one is strange. I've never seen Black Mirror, but from what I understand, this is basically a short comedic Black Mirror. It's a ten-episode series of short eight-to-ten minute episodes that explore a techno dystopia not too far from our own. It's got some funny ideas and a sampling of B-list actors. One episode has the kids of today as the old technophobic grandfathers in a far off future. Another focuses on the one man who can't find a match on a perfect future dating service. Frankly, I kind of like this one. It reminds me of the time that College Humor actually made original comedy content. You did it, YouTube Red.
Ok, that's four series down, and one actually good series so far. Twenty five percent—not bad! Next time, I've got some things to say about a certain recently cancelled internet gaming celebrity's show.