Hello, my name is Alec and I’ve been a Cataclysmoholic since the first season.
I’m not sure when I got hooked, but it may have been after a session of YouTube surfing. I believe I stumbled across Project X first. I was at once impressed with the spirit of the production. It felt like a movie done with heart, even despite the low budget and at times hammy acting by some of the minor players. I could tell the producers tried their best despite limitations. I have great respect for that. I have been watching fanfilms for a while, but this time I had stumbled onto something different and unique. Seeking more entertainment in the same vein I automatically linked to Cataclysmo, the name peaking my interest. Cataclysmo and the Time Boys? Sounded like one of the old serials a la Flash Gordon, Ace Drummond and The Phantom Empire or a parody thereof.
The first episode did not disappoint. The credits and first sequence (the jets flyby) felt like someone who knew what they were doing had been behind this. The rest of the episode was filled with all the elements I enjoy: sarcasm, humor, and an interesting storyline. Of course, at first the acting, particularly on Chris’ behalf, seemed over-the-top. But after a few minutes it was apparent this was not due to lack of acting talent, but quite on purpose and very fitting. The whole episode spoke to me: “we have no budget, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we want to poke fun at sci-fi, serials, and TV shows in general, but at the same time we want to do the best job we can, show our talent and have fun while doing.”
That was enough for me to be caught. I picked out the direct link to webserials.com (as much as I like YouTube, the pixelmess they crank out really cracks my cookie) and watched all the episodes in high-res I had not yet seen. I believe it may have been the first three. The entrance of H.G. Wells as a character and MacGuffin was fantastic — you just have to love a show that brings in a literary personae to excuse time-travel with a stick-on face fungus and a stiff-upper-lip British accent straight from SoCal. After that I followed the show religiously. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the show, the low budget production supplemented with decent FX and — I said it once and I’ll say it again — the hearts poured into the whole deal. How can you not love something that the creators love themselves?
The addition of the Sam character was another big plus. Not just was here a purty girl added to the feast, she also served well as a straight-man to Chris’ funny-man and Brian’s serious-man and seemed a genuine actor-at-work. Looking up Erin’s profile on IMDB gave me insight into The Asylum, and after torrenting a few of their doozies gave me even more respect for the work those kids from Biola where pulling off.
The show moved along nicely. The story became more involved and even Crankshaft sweetened the deal, but we never forgot that this was a parody. I mean, who waters his mail box? Hilarious! The monkeys too made the show stick. Fake monkeys in T-shirts and sporting waterguns? Brilliant!
Then suddenly, as abruptly as it had started, the show ended. Questions were left unanswered, plot-points remained loose and Cataclysmo unstopped. What the…?!?! Didn’t they stop it? What now? Who really caused it? What’s the deal with Wells? And most importantly… where in the name of Captain Tightpants did Bucky and Johnny keep their guns!?!
Ah, but wait. There was promise of a sequel.
The whole season left me with the same taste as the initial episode: these people meant business and they were here to entertain. They didn’t have the budget, but they had the heart and soul of true story tellers and film makers. They deserved a one-man standing ovation! My dog gave me a peculiar look for that one.
Also the business aspect of WebSerials.com left me curious and puzzled. Where was the money in all of this? Or was it purely a production of good will? Besides exposure for the cast and crew, I couldn’t for the life of me see the business aspect in all of this. And I highly doubted that the links would generate enough dough to make such an elaborate production permissible. DVD sales? Unless a miracle happened a la Firefly I do not expect the bucks to come marching in. Then again, sometimes I am too cynical for my own good.
Alas, season two began. The beginning was powerful and is probably one of the episodes I have watched the most. In fact, i feel like seeing it again, it’s that much fun. Be right back.
The quirky intro, the playful give-and-take between the characters, the epic music, not to mention the professional editing and directing and 300-styled battle sequence left me picking up my jaw. This seemed even more promising than season1!
Episode 2 continued the promise, as did 3. But something had happened. The approach had changed, the angle shifted. The humor had settled and a darker, more dramatic tone had fallen over the Time Boys. Could it be that suddenly the producers had decided they needed to show they could be stiff-faced as well? I pulled an about-face and continued to watch.
Indeed, the tone had become darker, gloomy nearly. I almost expected Poe to replace Wells as the MacGuffin. I hoped for a return to the quirkiness that had so much distinguished the first season. But nevermore. Which is not to say that Bucky didn’t retain his drollery or the story got boring or lost momentum. I remained hooked, but still missing the fun and parody of the first part. And most of all, where in the name of Charlton Heston were all the monkeys?
But — sweet Susan Sarandon! — the story did come together nicely! The Atlanteans where a nice addition, as was the wonderful Back To The Future-esqe trip. And despite the darkness some of the humor seemed to return towards the last episodes, as did the excellent FX. In fact, I was reminded of the style of shows such as Lexx, except that Cataclysmo was a lot more fun to watch.
At times the episodes seemed emotionally heavy. The acting settled and became more leveled and believable, the mood swung into emo-mode and suddenly everyone was taking themselves so gorram serious, at least until clever plot twists jerked us back.
“I am your father!” — Lucas would be proud.
The FX-laden ending was a dream. Sure, the Winnebagos seemed a bit flat and clunky as they faced down the flying monkeys… but good grief! They were flying monkeys! A straight-up hoot! And the Wicked Witch of the W…. I mean the Queen of Atlantis was lovely to look at. Her acting seemed a bit stiff at times, but it still worked.
I’ll admit, the story left me a tad confused at first. Took me a while to figure out what had been where, when. The two Wells left me giggly, but happy. And the Gas Mask Gang? Honestly, they could have been fleshed out a bit more. They seemed too much like red-shirts on their way to the slaughter in the climax. Which is a bit sad, because most of the actors portraying them seemed underused.
All in all I wish to repeat that which I have stressed over and over again: I enjoyed both seasons because of the professionalism and heart the creators poured into it. Everyone… from the guy sweatin’ it out in the monkey suit to the editor hoping he doesn’t have to render the sequence again because the system had crashed on him… truly showed they cared about the show. Beyond a doubt, this show had heart and soul, and all the anger, stress and sleepless nights were honestly worth it.
You just can’t help loving something the creator loves himself.