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NBC launched the first three episodes of their new web series CTRL today on NBC.com and Hulu.com. CTRL is based on the 2008 Sundance award winning short film “CTRL-Z” and will feature a total first season of ten episodes written and directed by Canadian film maker Rob Kirbyson.
CTRL is a comedy that stars Tony Hale (from Arrested Development) as Stuart, a mistreated office worker who spills a bottle of Nestea (two guesses who their #1 sponsor is) on his computer keyboard transforming it into a magical device capable of manipulating the laws of space and time with the click of a button. Some of Stuart’s new-found abilities include the power to rewind time, move objects, become invisible, and clone himself. Better yet, his reality manipulating keyboard may finally allow him to stand up for himself to his idiot boss, Ben Piller (Steve Howey from Reba fame). But will it give him the courage to finally tell Elizabeth (Emy Coligado), the woman of his dreams, how he really feels about her, or will he simply keep undoing it all?
CTRL is the first stand alone web series to be launched by any of the major television networks so far, and you have to applaud NBC for having the guts to jump out there first and start testing the waters. In fact, I’m so convinced that this is the future filler of our entertainment needs that I almost don’t even care if CTRL sucks worse than I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The mere fact that its being done is enough to garner my support for the project. Lucky for me, it doesn’t suck at all.
I absolutely loved Tony Hale in Arrested Development and he doesn’t disappoint as Stuart, the average office loser-nerd who doesn’t have the self-confidence to stand up for anything, and has spent his life getting walked all over by just about everyone around him. Even his office dreamgirl seems so far out of reach and you instantly realize what this magical keyboard means to Stuart. I was immediately struck by how well connected I was able to become with the three main characters in a short, five minute episode, but that’s a testament to the story-telling.
One small caveat I’d offer is to give this series a chance beyond the first three episodes. Starting out, there is a somewhat Groundhog Day feel to CTRL, where it seems like a lot of stuff is just getting repeated over and over. This is great in a two-hour movie like Groundhog Day, but a little different in a 5-minute per episode comedy on the internet. However, by the forth and fifth episodes, CTRL begins to settle into a nice grove with warm-hearted humor and characters you can’t help but love. By no means is CTRL the next Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, but it is a great launching pad to original scripted content produced for the web.
CTRL will be distributed online on NBC.com, Hulu.com, USANetwork.com, via mobile on NBC Wap, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and MobiTV, on Video on Demand on Comcast, Time Warner cable, Charter, Dish Network, Verizon, AT&T U-verse and Cablevision and downloadable on Xbox, Zune, Amazon UnBox, Sony Playstation Network and iTunes. But best of all, because its on the web, you can simply watch the first three episodes below! Check it out for yourself!
Episode 1 – Ctrl
Episode 2 – Ctrl-B
Episode 3 – Ctrl-Z