Web Series Review: H+ THE DIGITAL SERIES (2012 – Present)
Created by: John Cabrea, Cosimo De Tommaso
Starring: Alexis Denisov, Hannah Simone, David Clayton Rogers, Hannah Herzsprung, Amir Arison, Francesca Fanti, Sean Gunn
Number of Episodes: 48 (1 Season) – so far.
YouTube Channel: HplusDigitalSeries
In Short: In the near future a computer virus kills a third of the world’s population who have been given the digital brain implant known as H+.
JASON: Science has failed this world.
KEVIN: No, science has failed you. It’s made you into this.
If it hadn’t come before, H+ sees the official embracement of the web series as a viable creative alternative to films and television. H+ is the blockbuster equivalent for a web series, utilizing top Hollywood cast and crew (most notably Brian Singer, and actors Alexis Denisof and Sean Gunn). This is not to say that big industry names haven’t delved into web productions before; with H+, however, it is the combination and production that have made advancements for the medium.
Set in the near future, H+ explores the fusing of humans and technology and the possible dangers it poses—which are seemingly of Biblical proportions. The H+ technology is a 24-hour internet connection in the head that allows the user access to pretty much everything and everyone at any time. Unfortunately for those very same users, the series starts with an H+ virus unleashed on the world, killing most of the population wirelessly, the exceptions being the children who were too young to be implanted, those who either couldn’t afford or who refused implantation, and a lucky few that had no reception.
Although the series follows many different characters, all of whom have various different parts to play in the much larger story, Kenneth Lubahn (David Clayton Rogers) is at the centre of the happenings. When the virus is unleashed, Kenneth is found in an underground airport car park out of reach of the H+ signal, along with some other survivors who soon become interested in just how Kenneth knows so much about what is happening. He eventually reveals that Kenneth is actually one of the computer programmers who invented the H+ technology, and is a general tech wizard who guides the survivors through this now apocalyptic landscape.
The series moves sporadically from the “present” to the past to the future, following different characters from around the world and as the series is played out in very short episodes, the story is purposely made fractured and disjointed. The show slowly feeds the viewer small bits of a bigger story, providing a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle one at a time that the viewer assembles over the course of the show’s release. The can be frustrating, as with such a limited running time (usually less than five minutes) for each episode it is difficult to be fully absorbed by the show.
As the story unfolds in a non-linear fashion, the narrative negates the usual cause and effect of action, meaning that the viewer will sometimes know the outcome of a character’s action before said character has done it. The advantage of this is that the series doesn’t need to then spend time explaining what the viewer already knows, allowing it to explore the complicated characters and focus on developing them.
A large part of the story is dedicated to exploring the way in which the H+ technology has been developed by the Hplus Nano Teoranta company. The H+ program evolves from its initial birth in the laboratory at the hands of scientists and computer programmers to the testing phase that shows the exploitation of various individuals from all walks of life. Parallel to this is the development of another H+-like implant that has not been successful.
The production values are staggering as the series employs the use of orchestral music, cinematic quality computer graphics, and a reported 54 shooting locations in, for some reason, Chile. The budget for this project was over $2 million, but when compared to other Warner Bros. productions this is fairly low risk; that said, H+ began development in 2006 but took five years before filming started. Perhaps the thought of spending millions of dollars on a web series only began to seem viable in recent years.
The show’s focus on transhumanism (as the show describes an international movement that supports the transforming of the human body, and thereby the human condition, through advanced technologies) is not groundbreaking, but it does allow for debate rather than simply taking a negative stance on the subject. It also explores the need behind the advancement in technology. which is where the show’s philosophical strengths lie. H+ is a series that demands time and patience, but if you are willing to indulge, delving into this universe can be really rewarding.
And never mind about the cliffhanger – Season 2 is currently in production.
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