TV Review: The ENORMOUS Pilot Feels Big
Today Machinima premieres the pilot of Enormous, the new web series based on the comic by Tim Daniel and Mehdi Cheggour and directed by BAD pal BenDavid Grabinski. The first episode, written by Trollhunter's André Øvredal, has only nine and a half minutes to introduce us to a world very much already established, and it does so tidily, opening with a title card that reads:
The world has been overrun by monsters.
The remaining humans are plagued by a mysterious virus.
Some believe children might be the key to a cure.
We meet a United Nations search and rescue team, including Ceren Lee and Erica Gimpel (of Veronica Mars), who are committed to finding abandoned children in particular. We learn plenty about Lee's Ellen Grace, the leader of this merry band, as she makes her way alone through a building filled with radiation hoping to find a child. Their driver asks "Has she always been this ambitious?" and Gimpel replies, "One time I suggested we draw straws...and she took all the straws."
The pilot takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, "One Year After E-Day," and we also meet a group of marauders - including Joe Swanberg - who blow through the countryside looking for loot. Enormous avoids the usual pilot pitfalls of exposition dumps and awkward character inaugurations, especially impressive because it's such a short episode. This is a world that already makes sense, and these feel like characters who have existed for quite some time, instead of springing up from the ether with these opening minutes. Of course much of that may be due to the fact that the series is based on existing source material, and it gives Enormous a narrative anchor that most pilots are lacking.
And the thing looks great. It's big, it's cinematic, it's interesting. The episode ends with our first introduction to one of those enormous monsters, and there's scale and stakes aplenty to be had here. It's hard to believe this was made to be watched on a computer monitor, but as I've said many times in the past, I think web series are an exciting form of storytelling. They offer more freedom from format, from network notes and Nielsen trends. It's unlikely a network pilot would dive right into the action the way Enormous does, trusting the audience to follow along. Enormous feels like the direction serial storytelling is headed, and that's a good thing.
So give it a watch! Take ten minutes out of your day and take a look:
And stay tuned - a little later I'll be posting my interview with Enormous director BenDavid Grabinski!