Raise your hand if you've heard of Epic Meal Time. Great. What about Leo Laporte's This Week in Tech? Excellent. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? If most of you geeks aren't raising your hands by now, something's wrong. Is your YouTube broken?
Thanks to the combined powers of the Internet, Webcams, and creativity, a world full of bored office workers now has access to some of the most interesting, funny, and downright weird video content at the mere click of a mouse. And when these popular videos all center on a specific theme, we call that a "show"—in some cases, a "channel," depending on who's hosting the videos. Get my drift?
But here's the age-old problem: There's just too much content out there. If you aren't an Internet sleuth, there's a pretty good chance you're missing out on all sorts of awesome episodic video content if it doesn't contain the words "Red," "Blue," or "Revision" somewhere in the title. And that's why I'm here: I'm not going to point you in the direction of super well-known video shows that you could (really, should) be watching. I'm here to show you some of the slightly less popular gems that might have flown under your Geek Radar for some odd reason. I'll wait while you make the popcorn.
Excellent production value, excellent comedy, and excellent use of creative, alternative storylines for all of your favorite movies and games: Welcome to How It Should Have Ended. If you've been hacked off at a less than stellar ending to something you've watched or played, then you owe it to yourself to check out this parody series' alternate, animated shorts. Doesn't World of Warcraft's Arthas Menethil deserve a vacation instead of daily heroic raid defenses, after all? I think so.
It's hard to find a good place to start desciribing the LXD. Here are the essentials: The Web show takes place right in the brief period of time between 1920 to just around the year 3,000. Two rival groups are sparring for dominance: The League of Extraordinary Dancers (not Gentlemen, we note) and The Alliance of the Dark. But don't let the corny names dissuade you, for this beautifully choreographed Web series is nothing short of the best parts of So You Think You Can Dance combined with the best parts of, say, the X-Men. Episodes of The LXD is easily one of the more cultured ways you can spend 10 minutes of your busy day.
You do. And I do. Becuase few possess the raw, artistic mastery of fictional PhotoShop guru Donnie Hoyle, exemplified in a series of video tutorials that really have to be seen to be believed. For you don't watch these for the tutorials per se; you watch these videos for the subtext—like that of Episode 3, where Hoyle shows users exactly how to use PhotoShop's clone tool by editing out his supposed wife's wedding ring from their official photos.
Unfortunately, Hoyle now sucks at YouTube, for the series only delivered 20 episodes in 2008. I'm not trying to bait-and-switch you with a legacy Web series on purpose. This is just one classic gem that's definitely worth an afternoon viewing session.
Okay, this one's on College Humor, but that doesn't mean that it's necessarily permeated Internet pop culture as much as a Samwell or a Tosh.0 or what-have-you. The Web series Troopers chronicles—what else—the lives of those poor legions of clones running security on a big-as-a-moon battle station that may or may not have a striking resemblance to another spherical battle station from a certain series of movies being constantly refreshed by that George Lucas guy.
Got it? Here's a spoiler: Never leave a suggestion in your workplace's suggestion box, especially if your boss wields the mastery of the Force.
Take the average mindset of an Epic Meal Time contributor and exchange the love of bacon for a love of projectile vomiting and horror. What you've just created is the average plot for a typical episode of Wreckless Eating. In this show, as the name implies, the contributors do just about everything possible to put each other in a coma (not food coma) from the poor, poor ideas that they conjure up in the kitchen. I mean, really, who would have ever thought that a mustard-chugging contest was a good idea? Hilarious, yes! Good? No!
Continuing the food theme, what happens when—instead of trying to make your friends throw up by drinking and eating vile concoctions (or massive quantities of alcohol)—you instead imbibe your booze yourself and attempt to make scrumptious meals? Welcome to Hannah Hart's kitchen, where the first recipe on the menu is: Get loaded. And the main course? Well, it's certainly supposed to be something. Hart's attempts to go from ingredients, to baking, to edible products are highly entertaining so long as she promises to never make you sit down at the table.
Straight from a Reddit thread to your YouTube, The Drunken Hobbyist is an emerging series for those who don't give a lick about drunk cooking, but would much prefer to watch some dude imbibe and attempt everyday tasks. Or perhaps every other day tasks, as it's not very often that you or I probably saunter up to the barre and attempt a few ballet positions—let alone attempt to recreate the best of Black Swan—after a brief warm-up at the wine bottle. The production quality isn't stellar on this video series, but the idea is certainly there…as is the hilarity.
Might not want to put this one on the ol' speakers at work, because the title reflects exactly what you're getting: Scathing gaming videos that combine clever cursing with creative commentary. James Rolfe might have a lot of inner rage—and a never-ending supply of old-school gaming titles—but he actually has some valuable insight lurking behind his angry showmanship. And here's how you know he's the real deal: Dude's even got his own feature-length movie in the works.
Dungeons and Drago—er, Goblins & Gold—is serious business. And with the stakes higher than ever for the upcoming World Goblins & Gold Championship, a team of intense adventurers hit the tables, unzip the dice bags, and throw down critical hits across six episodes in this Web series' first big season. It's smart, it's funny, it's geeky: You aren't going to find more fun Dungeons and Dragons-themed Web videos unless they involve the phrase, "attacking the darkness."
Technically, Facerocker isn't a show—it's a website, hosted by three cool Internet dudes: Matthew Arnold, Freddie Wong, and Brandon Laatsch. But their names aren't nearly as important as their video skills. From their presentation, to their funny, to their FX—well, OK, mainly their FX—these guys know how to cut right to a geek's core. I realize none of this is very descriptive to what the videos they make actually are, so I'll cut to the chase: Anyone who can augment a standard go kart video with fancy graphics to make it appear as if it was some kind of real-life Mario Kart is a win in my book. These dudes are definitely worth checking out.
This series of comedy shorts is mostly themed around the San Francisco Bay Area, but don't just throw away this particular video project because you don't live in California. From time to time, the sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster transcends geography to bring some heartwarming, nostalgic narratives to the digital equivalent of the silver screen. Case in point: The group's tribute to outdated technology (except for those horrible things called fax machines) should bring a tear to the eye of any Maximum PC enthusiast over the age of 7.
Raise your hand if you've ever played any games within the Legend of Zelda series. Ok. Now put your hands down, all of you. The very, very few of you that did not raise your hands are now tasked with borrowing a friend's Super Nintendo and firing up the greatest title of them all, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (no arguments!). And those of you that have indeed sampled this delightful game (or any game in the Zelda world) will surely enjoy The Legend of Neil. It's the story of a common man transported into The Legend of Zelda and tasked with, well, getting out.
My tip? Get Zora's Flippers, man.
(Thanks to Michael Lerch for the tip on this one!)
Three guys. One love of sportsmanship. Tons of idiotic ways to try and best each other. That's the entire premise of the YouTube series, "The Compatish." Think of it as a variant of all the various "Watch us eat tons of food and barf" Web shows on the Internet. Only, replace "eating food" with "awesome tests of skill and bravery," like the dreaded Belly-Flop competition, the silly Cup-Stacking competition, and good ol' fashioned Strip Spelling, and you've got the ingredients for a funny—but not all that disgusting—series of face-offs.
Alright, Maximum PC readers. It's time to class up the joint a little bit. The Piano Guys isn't just your average YouTube channel of people jamming to one of the following two scenarios: Songs you've never heard of, or the exact same rendition of Super Mario Brothers that you've heard 38,000 times. The Piano Guys—technically, a pianist and a cellist—both play a variety of songs themselves (musicals, pop covers, classical stuff, Charlie Brown, Star Wars, et cetera) accompanied by some beautiful cinematography on the production end. Ultimately, these guys are half-geeks, half-musicians, and all-entertainers. Now when do we get a video for the Halo theme?
I'm not going to spare any punches on this one: This show is absolutely nuts. Or, rather, the premise of the show is absolutely nuts: Tasking a person to pull a 21st-century Ferdinand Magellan and make it completely around the globe. The traveler comes into the journey without any cash whatsoever, just a backpack full of essentials and the power of the show's Internet-based fan base offering tips, help, and other assistance.
As the show puts it, Around the World for Free comes with, "no script, no itinerary, no security." These people are playing traveler on Hardcore Mode, and their adventures are pretty exciting to watch from the comfort of one's desk.
Straight from London (usually), The Black Cab Sessions is an awesome simple Web series. Singers, bands, or any combination thereof are invited to come play in the rear seat of a typical British taxicab. Yes, these are going to be acoustic sets unless someone's found a way to power an amp with a cigarette lighter adapter (and then there's the issue of getting the amp in the car in the first place). No, the strange idea doesn't mean that you're just going to see a lot of bands in a cab that you don't really know. For the full lineup—no fare required—check out The Black Cab Sessions' site!
It was bound to happen sometime: The art of developing successful YouTube videos got turned into a YouTube series itself. Meta, yes. Funny? Also yes. Little Cat Version of Me, as the name implies, follows two guys attempting to themselves follow the footsteps of the 58,041,413 cat videos on YouTube. The goal? Striking instant popularity through the exploits of their adorable cat, Meowla.
The bummer? You only get the 11 episodes you see. Apparently, Meowla wasn't that big of a success after all. It nevertheless seems fitting to include a commentary on Web video popularity within a list of popular Web shows, no?
Bad video game cutscenes suck—that's almost self-explanatory, I realize. That's why they deserved to be mocked in a fun, voiceover fashion, and that's exactly what The Escapists's Unskippable show delivers. Sit back, relax, and enjoy all the horrible video game cinematics that you've always mocked with your friends on couches in living rooms nationwide. And developers, please, do better than these