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Divine: The Series

The first two episodes of Divine: The Series are up at YouTube, and I'm reserving judgment for the time being. The concept is interesting, but so far, the execution by the lead actors is a bit less so. Dan Payne hasn't quite hit on his characterization for Cesare Divine, and Chasty Bellasteros feels off in her characterization for Jin -- possibly because she's putting out a lot of emotional energy, but it isn't being met in kind. Even Misha Collins seems hesitant about his characterization. Taken as a whole, the first two episodes make me feel like no one really trusts anyone else to play their role correctly.

I think this uncertainty is fairly typical of any new series, but I'm not sure Divine can get away with it. The episodes are under 15 minutes each, and the overall presentation is deliberately constructed so that viewers can watch them in any order they wish, not just by release date. This means that the actors really need to nail down their characterizations and trust their costars right from the beginning, since they can't count on the audience to watch in such a way that they will see a progression of character development from start to finish.

That said, would I recommend it for others to watch? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a qualified yes. The uneven acting is not unexpected, and I hope to see it level out with each of the next four episodes that will be released. I believe the fact that this is Ivan Hayden's first directorial experience may also be playing a role in the performance issues, and that as he gains confidence, so too will his lead actors. Visually, the episodes can't be faulted. Maple Blood Productions put together these episodes on a shoestring budget and with the benefit of a hell of a lot of donated labor and a strong Kickstarter campaign. Despite the Rodgers and Hart feel of "Hey, kids! Let's put on a show!" the production values are high, and the special effects are about what I would expect from any well-financed project.

Maple Blood is trying something new with Divine, and I believe its mission is one worth supporting (disclaimer: I donated a significant chunk of change to the Kickstarter campaign). Ivan Hayden, one of the principles of Maple Blood, is pushing a new concept of web-based entertainment, and Divine: The Series is one of six projects under development (Hayden hasn't gone into detail yet on the other five, only that he's working on them) as part of a proof of concept to find a financial backer. One of the things the group needs to show is that the series can find an audience on the web, and to do so, Hayden has been overtly and unapologetically courting fandom for several months. To be honest, he's kind of a dork about the whole thing, but I refuse to fault his enthusiasm and his willingness to go a non-standard route to bring his concept to life.

If you haven't done so yet, take a look at the episodes that are already up, and then take a look at the blog for Divine: The Series to make your own determination on whether to support Ivan. Personally, I think this is an interesting direction to take for new entertainment options, and I kind of love the fact that Ivan is so directly engaged with fandom.

Episode 1: Divine
Episode 2: Choices

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