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The Collectibles
Tonight's Webseries Presentation

THE COLLECTIBLES

Starring: Brian Sutherland, Lisa Skvarla, Dan Humphrey, Wonder Russell, S. Joe Downing, Frank Aye, Trish Loyd, Elizabeth Daruthayan

Written By: Dan Heinrich (also story), Todd Downing (also story), Landon Salyer (story), Trish Loyd (story)

Directed By: Dan Heinrich, Todd Downing

See It Here: http://www.the-collectibles.com


What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEDDAR.

Tasty stuff that everyone can enjoy.  Just don’t let Ultrafemme anywhere near the cheese knife, or it might end up in your back.


Pairs Well With...

GOLDSCHLAGER.

The alcohol equivalent of a gold star.  Awesome!


“Power Posse, Ho!  So, I know you’re all wondering what’s going on.  Why the urgent meeting?  Am I going to have a job come Monday?  Let me assure you: everything is going to be excellent.”


What if superheroes had to go to staff meetings?  Sweat over layoffs and reorgs?  Deal with corporate backstabbing?  File status reports?  And what if they had to answer to the single greatest evil ever encountered by humankind: clueless stuffed shirt management?

Welcome to the world of The Collectibles, where the superheroes have it just as bad as you do.

I’ll come right out and say it: The Collectibles is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year.  Yes, I’ve laughed at other stuff, and even laughed hard on occasion, but not as consistently as I have while watching this show.  It is outstandingly hilarious, and yet there’s much more to it than that.  The show is also smart, quick on its feet, and loaded with heart… and there’s no way you’d see something like this on regular television.  Not without losing something essential, anyway.  In short, The Collectibles is why you watch a webseries.

Let’s start with the concept.  The idea of sticking superheroes in a cube farm is fantastic, and having their superheroics “out in the field” constantly scrutinized by upper management and used to measure marketing potential for toy lines, movie deals, and so on is a masterstroke.  It combines two immediately relatable worlds – the world of superheroes, which is a commonly enjoyed fantasy, and the world of the corporate rat race, which is a commonly experienced reality – and puts them together in a way that magnifies both the comedy and the drama (of course there’s drama; all good comedy is based on it), and that strikes a different and more interesting chord than either genre can achieve by itself.

But just as importantly, The Collectibles does it with heart.

Some may look at “superhero” and “office” as buzzwords, but The Collectibles is not a project that was put together by anyone’s marketing department.  Rather, it’s something that was created for fans, by fans.  (Very talented and professional fans, mind you.)  The people involved – both in front of and behind the camera –obviously love what they’re doing here, and at the end of the day, it’s also obvious that their primary goal is to make a series that the audience is going to enjoy.  It’s something that pours out from every frame, and that brings a magic to the proceedings that no multimillion dollar special effect will ever touch.

Make no mistake; this is definitely no multimillion dollar extravaganza.  The production design is as simple as can be.  The cube farm is real, but it’s not stylized. Though they're all cool in some way, half of the superhero outifts probably wouldn’t even make the final round in a fan convention costume contest… but that’s part of the fun.  Outfitting Super Star with expensive sculpted latex body armor gilded with a layer of gold leaf would make even less sense than putting nipples on the Bat Suit.  (Did many of you just cringe at the memory?  Good.)  The costumes don’t represent a lack of care or effort; indeed, they represent exactly the opposite.  They help to sell the comedy and the absurdity of the corporate environment while still being easily recognizable for what they are.  Sure, budgetary necessity may be the mother of invention here, but Madam Necessity bore herself a pretty smart kid, and let the money go where it really needed to go.  (I’ll pick up on that again after the episode-by-episode rundown.)

Meanwhile, The Collectibles benefits from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to everything else that counts.  The writing?  Awesome.  The acting?  Gold stars all around.  The direction and the editing and all of that other behind-the-scenes good stuff?  Spot on.  I’ve watched every episode that’s been released so far three times, and I can’t find a single thing that I would want to see changed or done differently.  Not.  One.  Thing.

Why would I want to change anything, when Frank Aye and Wonder Russell by themselves prompted more genuine laughter from me in less than one hour of screen time than the entire cast of “Friends” ever did in one season?  How could I even fathom suggesting that things be handled differently, when the goings-on at CorpCo are such a perfect mirror of a real cube farm that I’d swear that Ultrafemme stabbed me in the back at one point?  No network television show since “Twin Peaks” has made me want to tune in every week.  But I want to tune in every week for The Collectibles…

…And I want you to do the same.  I promise that you won’t be sorry.  If you’ve never watched a webseries before, The Collectibles is a great reason to start watching them.  And once you start, you won’t want to stop.  Network television only wishes it was this fun to watch.

Power Posse, Ho!



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Season One | Ten (and a Quarter) Episodes, 9.5 – 13.5 minutes each


Episode 1.1: “Pilot to Co-Pilot” – I have never been hooked by a comedy show of any type so quickly.   The opening commercial that sets up what the Power Posse is brought me right back to grade school Saturday morning glory days.  The meeting that follows does an excellent job of introducing the characters and the story.  Each member of the cast is quick to impress, and gives the audience not just one but several reasons to remember his or her character.  The writing, the acting, the dead solid perfect translation of a modern corporate office setting… I can’t think of one thing I’d change.  Picking a highlight is almost impossible, but if I must, call it a tie between Aguaman’s outburst at the meeting and Shield Maiden’s rant at the camera (which many fantasy gamers will recognize right away, and which at that point becomes all the funnier).

Episode 1.2: “Tool Time” – The brilliant writing continues, starting with the episode title, which is a very slick dual reference joke.  Once again, “laugh a minute” isn’t a sufficient description; I was laughing way more than that.  The clueless mini-speech from senior management (complete with whispered coaching from the underling) is a scream, but the episode’s takes on office diversity – or more specifically, how the Power Posse members alternately complain about it and try to use it to their advantage – truly take the cake.  Ultrafemme’s scheming is very well-played, but for the second time in a row, Shield Maiden has the best rant.

Episode 1.3: “The Views Expressed…” – At this point, just consider great writing and general hilarity standards unless noted otherwise.  This one’s got three highlights.  Number one is… number one.  Just listen for the running water sound effect.  Before that, Aguaman gets in a super swearing session at Ultrafemme to which she responds by literally cracking the whip.  And even without a rant, Shield Maiden still gets a highlight thanks to refusing to back down in front of senior management.  I really, really hope that doesn’t end up backfiring on her.

Episode 1.3.5: “Moving Day” – Though it starts with a very quick laugh courtesy of Receiver, this two and a half minute mini-sode plays more seriously.  Super Star is packing up his office, and as he does so, his genuinely fragile personality (which we have suspected all along) shows.  What’s interesting is that Receiver – who can read minds – is very sweet about it when she drops by, and offers help without being intrusive.  It’s a tenderly written scene, and more proof that the writers have range.  As for why he’s packing his office…

Rundown Break: I haven’t even gotten to looking at the fourth full episode yet, and I have already recommended this to a friend who has started watching right away.  Do I think this is a good series?  You don’t need to be Receiver to guess that answer by now.

Episode 1.4: “Location, Location, Location” – It turns out that everyone’s office got moved… and someone got a bigger office than everyone else.  The dramedy thickens.  Once again, it’s hard to pick highlights with so much good stuff.  I will say that I scared my cat by laughing so hard at Receiver’s opening call, and the follow up snickers continued every time someone mentioned I.T. Guy (whom no one can find, of course).  Aguaman’s sloshed rant is also a blast, and I almost feel sorry for the Graviator.  Almost.

Episode 1.5: “Ninja, Please” – Oh; things just got messy for the Power Posse.  Turns out that Evil Hand caused Quick to turn Evil briefly… If only Aguaman could have been there…  The tension’s rising here, and while the comedy isn’t quite as rapid fire now, it’s still well-played and plentiful.  Highlights here are Death-Wish’s sidekick (her name’s Ennui) and the interview conducted in bathrobes, complete with Super Star quoting Wikipedia as reference material.  As for the talent agent… he’s just frighteningly realistic.  Bonus: This is a crossover episode with the webseries Chop Socky Boom, from which applicant Daisy originally hails.

Episode 1.6: “With Grrrl Power Comes Grrrl Responsibility” – I didn’t think it was possible for The Collectibles to get any funnier; this episode proves that theory wrong.  When two sorority sisters turned alleged superheroes come in for an interview and the guys in office faun all over them, it’s up to the superheroines to keep things from turning disastrous.  Anyone who doesn’t recognize the scenario presented simply has not worked in a “co-ed” office, period.  The stupid behavior of the men is spot on, and the defensive measures taken by the women are nothing short of hilarious.  The runner-up on this week’s highlight reel is Receiver invisibly putting her two cents into the interview, with the clear winner –once again – going to Shield Maiden, with her single word lament, which I’ll leave unspoiled so you can laugh as hard as I did.  This is now my favorite episode thus far.

Episode 1.7: “How Does That Make You Feel?” – There’s some interesting drama to this episode, thanks to the fact that the new applicant is a psychologist named Shrink Ray who puts down everyone in front of him.  You know you’ve become attached to a group of characters when you find yourself feeling angry at other characters for hurting them, and this son of a bitch made Shield Maiden cry!  Doesn’t that make him a villain?  Of course, she does get in a great scene in the process (Highlight #1), but still.  If Shrink Ray ever comes back, I want him to pay.  Meanwhile, some other insecurities are revealed at a trip to the bar (featuring the world’s fastest bartender), capped off by Highlight #2 with Receiver and a Ren Faire wannabe that’s even funnier when you realize who’s playing him.  (Hint: Go to www.the-collectibles.com, check the “crew” section, and do a little face matching.  You won’t have to go far at all to figure it out.)

Episode 1.8: “Hostile Takeover” – Part one of a three-part finale!  After opening with Shield Maiden’s commercial for Top Pot Doughnuts (Highlight #1), we start the show with a bombshell: that “change” that’s been hinted to all season is announced… privately, to just two people.  This, of course, means that the whole office soon knows about it.  (Another excellent and very office-savvy bit of writing there; will managers and execs never understand how things work?)  Get ready for the drama, folks…  Highlight #2 is a truly “gold star” performance throughout by Brian Sutherland as Super Star; he’s always been good, but given the story in this episode, he really gets to shine here.  (The pudding scene is both funny and a little heart-wrenching at the same time.  Extra kudos for the prop placement there.)  Highlight #3 is, of course, the first appearance by our supervillains: the Terrible Trio.  Mwhahaha…

Episode 1.9: “In the Bored Room” – Okay, no spoilers because we’re near the end of the season; just highlights.  Highlight #1: Death by Powerpoint, which cube farmers have known about for years, and which obviously had to be used by villains sometime.  Highlight #2: Evil Hand and Shield Maiden talk over Top Pot Doughnuts.  Highlight #3: Receiver has a point.  Highlight #4: The movie!  HA!  I KNEW IT!

Episode 1.10: "In Case of Emergency, Press Here" – Finale, so nothing spoiled.  Highlight #1: Ennui’s helpful suggestion.  Highlight #2: blackmail/justice.  Highlight #3: Power Posse vs. Terrible Trio!  Highlight #4: Promotion!  Highlight #5: “Follow me on Twitter!”  ULTIMATE HIGHLIGHT: After the credits!  Bonus question for Evil Hand: Wait a minute… since when does evil scheming prevent dating?  Don’t they usually go together?

Bottom line on Season One: WOW.  I’ll wrap it up with an answer to a character’s question.

Ennui: “Well that was fun!  What should we do next?”

Ziggy: “Make another season!”



There is no studio paying for the production of The Collectibles.  Though there are a few business sponsorships at play (in a completely non-obnoxious way), the real financial support for this show comes from the fans.  If you watch the show and like what you see (and, of course, if you can afford to do so), please consider yourself encouraged to go to the production website at www.the-collectibles.com and show your appreciation with either a donation or the purchase of something from their shop.  Independent filmmakers deserve our support, and the truly exceptional ones – like the folks making The Collectibles – especially deserve it.

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, May, 2012


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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