The 10 Best Nerdy Non-Professional Web Series'

By Chris Cummins in Daily Lists
Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 8:00 am
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At this point, any respectable genre fan can quickly rattle off the names of several popular web series. The Guild. Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. Legend of Neil. And on and on and on. As great as all of those are, they have either serious star power or some big deal website sponsoring and/or funding them. But what of the little guys out there who are struggling to get their creative (and decidedly nerdy) visions realized through Kickstarter, Indiegogo or other crowd-funding options?

Today's Daily List is all about the underdogs. The ten web series' that are featured here may not be household names yet but they all are clever and well-made. Since my picks are subjective, and because there are thousands of indie series' created by non-professionals floating around on the Internet, some of your favorites are certain to be missing from this list. So be sure to name your picks in the comments. That said, here's an assortment of web programs that are short on recognition and cash-flow but huge on entertainment. Let's take a look.

10) Transolar GalacticaSci-fi comedy is a tricky game. For every Red Dwarf or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy there are a thousand Homeboys in Outer Space and Hyperdrives. So the fact that Transolar Galactica fuses the two genres so perfectly on a limited budget is something truly special indeed. Chronicling the adventures of egotistical starship Captain Remmington Trigger, the series pokes fun at familiar sci-fi tropes -- a hero with a Derek Wildstar-esque tragic past, J.J. Abrams' love for lens flares taken to a ridiculous extreme, etc -- as it slowly engages in some universe building of its own. It's easy enough to coast by on adventure and humor, yet this series ups the creative ante by featuring some genuinely lovable characters. (Including Yasaki, the helmsman/audience surrogate who finds himself frequently questioning the captain's logic-defying orders). Transolar Galactica's first season of ten episodes was recently picked up by Funny or Die, so you can expect to hear much more about this interstellar comedy in the future.

9) Assignment: Unexplained?
We live in a world where there is a reality TV show called Finding Bigfoot in which four grown-ass adults go in search of Sasquatch. For reals. Flip through the channels these days and you'll find a cottage industry of shows looking to profit from America's fascination with all things cryptozoological/paranormal. It was only a matter of time before Ghost Hunters and its TV brethren got what's coming to them. Therefore in the spirit of Bullshit or Not? I present to you Assignment: Unexplained? This web series follows a squad of paranormal researchers as they set out to "investigate the uninvestigatable." As you can see from the above video, you wouldn't really want to goofballs from AU helping with solving your haunting. Still, regardless of their dubious scientific techniques you've got to admit that watching their antics is way more entertaining than the TAPS crew analyzing yet another bit of unintelligible white noise.

8) Standard Action

Bored of the rings? Then get yourself some Standard Action. Created, co-written by and co-starring Canadian Joanna Gaskell (as Edda, the world's least bloodthirsty barbarian), this comedy/fantasy series for Dungeons and Dragons fanatics has found itself frequently compared to The Guild. However, before you dismiss it as the Go-Bots to that series' Transformers, you should see how it succeeds at creating a comedic saving throw for those yearning for RPG-based humor. Making the most of Vancouver's otherworldly locales, the series -- which has featured 13 episodes and one special to date -- presents its laughs with a side order of lush cinematography, resulting in Standard Action being the most visually pleasing entry on this list. It should probably be said that non-D&D lovers will enjoy this as well...just not as much as their TSR-worshipping peers.

7) The Silent City

Speaking of beautifully shot series', The Silent City is a gorgeous look at post-apocalyptic isolation that is filmed in and around some of New York City's abandoned wonders. (Fans of Forgotten New York, take note). Set a decade after humanity was wiped out by a as of-yet unexplained calamity, the series focuses on a nomadic man as he wanders around the Big Apple in an effort to stay alive. There have only been two episodes of the series so far, each building palpable dread in a manner which The Walking Dead has yet to achieve. Because of the lack of characters the episodes are largely dialogue-free, leaving lead actor Eric Stafford to rely on body movement and facial expressions to convey his feelings. It's the sort of compelling performance that can turn an unknown into a cult sensation. Rumor has it that zombies will eventually make their way into the show, a prospect that I feel ambivalent about given how ubiquitous the undead are elsewhere in popular culture. Up to this point the series has been a tone poem about desolation and despair. Maybe I shouldn't panic yet. Something tells me that once brain-eaters are thrown into the mix the plot developments will be handled with the same elegance that is quickly becoming The Silent City's hallmark.

6) Awkward Embraces
"Nerdy girls need love too." No, it's not the name of a particularly clever Samantha Fox parody song, but rather the motto of Awkward Embraces. Best described as what Girls would be like if it had a main character who worshiped Star Trek instead of Sex and the City, the web series chronicles the romantic misadventures of Los Angeles single nerdess Jessica and her (slightly) less hopeless pals Lyndsey and Candis. If you are looking strictly for Big Bang Theory-style nerdery, look elsewhere. Although Awkward Embraces has plenty of that, at its heart it is primarily about friendship in our brave new post-nerd world. Check out the first two seasons here.

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