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To Kill A Princess
Tonight's Webseries Presentation


Starring: Roxanne Gregory, Nick Hayles, Harriet Morgan-Smith

Written By: Sam Casserly, Jenny Perlman Directed By: Sam Casserly

See It Here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ToKillAPrincess/videos

Production Website: http://www.tokillaprincess.com

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


It tastes all right, but you ordered something else.

Pairs Well With...


Drinkable, easy to take down quickly, but…

“You’d like a little drink, wouldn’t you?”

I will start by saying this: I am fond of To Kill A Princess.

The choice of words is important.  The fact that I am fond of To Kill A Princess doesn’t mean that I like it.  I want to like it, but I just can’t convince myself to go there.  Ask me if I like it, and I’ll tell you that I don’t.  Ask me if I hate it, however, and I will also tell you that I don’t.  And I want to like it more than I want to hate it, ergo, fond.

The choice of words is important.  Kind of like how the makers of To Kill A Princess call it a “UK Steampunk Webseries.”  It’s the second word that’s the problem.

See, I love Steampunk, so I approached To Kill A Princess with that brand of anticipation in mind, expecting that the people who made it would keep to their chosen word.  Because of this, I was highly disappointed at many a turn; most of them, really.  Had they called it a “UK Fever Dream,” there’d have been much less of an issue, but…

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

If all of To Kill A Princess looked like the first seventy-five seconds, it would be a masterpiece.  The opening sequence at the Gala plays as a silent film with a twist: rich color and definition, but the perfect style of camera wobble and changing focus to mimic birth-of-cinema filmmaking.  The visuals are gorgeous; the costumes fulfilling the Steampunk promise while still speaking to the atmosphere of a gala.  After the luscious crush of guests is pressed through, the pantomime is well acted and utterly intriguing.  It’s all backed by oustanding music: piano, Saxon violins (had to), hints of music box.

For seventy-five seconds, I was enthralled.  Might someone have actually dared to make an entire production in silent style but with modern color and definition?

Nope, sorry.

What follows is a bizarre amalgam of styles that really is best described as a fever dream collection.  Here are some scenes that look like a demo for Hell’s Own Apple advert.  Here’s one that looks like a dating service postmortem rant read into a shattered crystal ball.  Here’s some slightly overexposed stuff shot in a somewhat sparse wooded area.  Taken without any prior advertised context, most of it’s interesting, but if you’re waiting for Steampunk… um…  Some of the costumes work, and the one guy – yes, the one they actually call “Evil Bob” – sure talks about steam a lot, but the atmosphere of Steampunk just isn’t there most of the time.  It’s not a matter of budget – others have gotten it on similar shoestrings – but of artistic choice.  And again, had the makers of To Kill A Princess not been so definite about calling their work “Steampunk,” this would have been fine, but…

But, that’s not the only problem.  Taken together, what the makers here call the first season takes up less than fifteen minutes, which others might call a first episode.  Not a lot of time for mucking about beyond the point, right?  Actually, one can skip episodes 2-5 entirely and miss very little context that’s immediately relevant to the main story arc of the season (the producers have called it a season, so I’m playing by their rules), and really, it can be lived without. (Indeed, the fact that everything is filmed in different styles makes it that much easier to divorce subplots from main action, however tangentially related.)  I do understand that the intention is there to make another season and that these other events are the seeds of things therein, but I also think it would have been nice to tell one fully fleshed story first before jumping ahead to the next level.

And to have skipped the digital fire burping.  The digital steam pushes it already, but the belched flames are too much. 

I want to like To Kill A Princess.  There’s great potential here.  The stories are interesting, though I wish they’d put more flesh on them before jumping about.  The different presentation styles make for an intriguing semi-hallucinatory kaleidoscope if one isn’t pigeonholed into expecting a specific style that is often sidelined.  Everyone in front of and behind the camera has obviously got heart in spades, and that I will not put a qualifier against.  I want to like To Kill A Princess, but they clearly love it, and on projects like this, that labor of love vibe does count for a lot. 

(Though, all right, I do wish they’d not have given up on their production website so quickly.  I’m writing this a full three months after their first season’s finale went live; they haven’t updated their website since Episode 4.)

I want to like To Kill A Princess, but I don’t.  But I don’t hate it, either, so if you’re up for something different, I’d say go ahead and give it a try.  Just be prepared for lots of tangents, and don’t expect full-on Steampunk.

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Season One | Six Episodes, 2.75 – 5 minutes each

Episode 1 – Wherein we are introduced to the world via the Royal New Year’s Gala, followed by a royal pain.  Obsevration #1:  Silent film style introduction.  Good start.  Observation #2:  I like the camera.  Color and hi def, but just the right wobble/occasional unfocus to carry an antique look.  Observation #3:  All right.  If the object is to get the audience to agree with the title early, success has been achieved.

Episode 2 – Wherein we meet “Evil Bob.”  Observation #1:  Okay… so “Evil Bob” works inside of a low budget Apple commercial.  Observation #2:  A bit too Apple to be called Steampunk, even with the digital steam.  Observation #3:  Period?  No, but one has to admire this actor’s commitment to playing a whacko well.

Episode 3 – Wherein we take a massive detour to make a small point.  Observation #1:  I like the visual style of what plays as a dating service postmortem, but it’s more crystal ball than steam.  Observation#2:  The sound drops are unfortunate; they get a pass because they happen during a surreal monologue.  Observation #3:  Once again, not sure it belongs here, but I like this performance. 

Episode  4 – Wherein pink hair is pitted against psychopathy.  Observation #1:  Digital fire belch.  What?  Observation #2: Why don’t you just kick him in the steam-powered bollocks?  Observation #3: Do we honestly have time for this many side trips?

Episode 5 – Wherein we get a second psycho.  Observation #1: A bit too long of a wait on the reveal.  Observation #2: I think I have a favorite character now.  Observation #3: Oh, are we going for the main event?

Episode 6 – Wherein a few seconds of catch-up reminds up that the last four episodes were superfluous.  And then some more footage is reused.  And then the season ends in a fashion far more outstanding than I was expecting; indeed, I quite like this.

End of season note: I can be convinced to watch more, but I do hope for better next time.

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2013

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