Monday, January 24, 2011

Honourable Mentions: Transitions – Season 1

Transitions is a web serial that has run its first season and, being a free to watch series, it receives an honourable mention rather than a scored review. The series can be found here and was directed by Chad Ream.

Things start with a man sleeping in a cemetery and then we get brief close-ups of people, a swing, a baseball bat, a shopping trolley. It is actually a rather nice collage of images. After the opening credit runs we see a bum, Ed (William Ellwood), pushing his trolley. Three thugs approach him, one with a baseball bat. He tries to ignore them and, when it becomes clear that they aren’t going to leave him alone he runs.

under the moonlight
They catch him in an alley and one of the thugs starts to beat him with a baseball bat. This is watched from a rooftop by Zachariah (Chad Earnest) and here we see two of the less strong aspects of the web-show. The fight scene isn’t as convincing as it might be, punches are too obviously pulled, but also there is a dark sky and moon aside the vampire and yet down at ground level it is clearly daylight. Later a grey wash is used to offer a feeling of night but again we can tell it is daylight – or strong lighting has been used, I suspect the former. Not enough to kill the series off, I have witnessed much worse, but something to mention.

turning Ed
Anyway, Zachariah kills off the thugs and then he is by Ed’s side. Ed refuses going to a doctor – presumably because he has no insurance – and he has no home. Zachariah takes him to a building. He bites Ed and then feeds him from his wrist before leaving him. Later he returns as Ed comes round – he has transitioned.

Tudor Dixon as Claire
Zachariah takes Ed to a house where he lives with his clan. Joseph (Todd Sprad) accepts Ed but is angry as Zachariah did not ask permission to turn him. Later Ed’s development will be handed to Claire (Tudor Dixon) as Zachariah is put into solitary. This means he cannot feed and the punishment will debilitate him and may send him mad. Another vampire, Kevin (at first Matin Markaj and later Adam Slager), has a problem with Ed – because he is a bum – and dislikes Zachariah. Here we get one of the strengths of the series (and a potential weakness).

Angela Robitaille as Delvi
The depth the filmmakers have put into this is truly welcome. We have hints of in-clan politics as well as problems with another clan. We see the Vamp vampire Delvi (Angela Robitaille) in a couple of scenes and it is clear she is a villain. What is she up to? We don’t know yet. This is where it might become a weakness, as the production has opened several threads and I hope they manage to juggle them as the next season is recorded.

a victim
Lore wise we don’t know too much. The vampires can be starved, they can’t fly and don’t sparkle, sunlight will not burn them but they are naturally nocturnal. One nice bit surrounded daytenders, these are humans bitten (and presumably given blood) who have not turned. The vampires release an enzyme when they feed and in those turned it has bonded with their systems. Daytenders are people with whom the enzyme will not bond and their immune system breaks down. They become reliant on the enzyme but the only way to get it is to be bitten. The vampires treat them as not much better than serfs, or at least that is how Claire treats Amber (Liza Zaczek), the daytender we meet.

Occasionally the dialogue can feel a little clunky, or the delivery forced, but this is in no way worse (and indeed better, in some cases) than many independent films that have somehow gotten distribution. The varied locations in use are very much better than a lot of straight to DVD flicks. All in all, worth a watch. At the time of write up there is no imdb page.

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