So I've been given my first review copy of a piece of media to review on this blog, that being the pilot episode for Meatspace written and directed by William Carlisle. Now before I begin there is something that should be addressed about my criticisms, that being that the pilot episode is unfinished meaning that any complaints I have about the technical side of things can be addressed between now and when the episode airs. With that out of the way, let's dive in.
The plot of the episode concerns the attempts of three student flatmates (Lydia, David and Jamie) to get the fourth person in their flat (Megan) to open up to them after two weeks of living together. Now, having finished my first year at university there are a lot of elements that I identify with, mostly concerning Megan. This is because, during my first year, I was the introvert in my flat and a lot of the issues that Megan had in the episode, mainly the nerves faced by opening up to complete strangers, were issues that I had when I first moved into uni accommodation, although with my flat I didn't really open up to them, instead I opened up to people in my course and friends in societies. This also leads into a problem I had with the episode in that I think Megan opening up was too quick. As an introvert it wouldn't take one conversation for me to open up to strangers, it would have been more believable if we heard that Megan and Lydia had been talking for the two weeks prior but she was unwilling to open up and then Megan does so during this episode, which would have been better at establishing a growing friendship between Megan and Lydia whilst also showing that she was struggling to fit in. There is another issue I had with this episode which could transcend to a full series, that being the fantasy sequence seen near the end of the episode. It felt a bit out-of-place for me, although this is an issue that could be solved if more sequences like it were included in the full series but judging the pilot on its own merits, it felt out-of-place. There's also an issue which is just a nitpick for me but one that really bugged me at the start of the episode, that being that it took 2 weeks for the flat to get wi-fi, but if it was uni accommodation for freshers, wi-fi should have been provided, just something that bugged me. One thing that works really well is the dialogue. It feels really natural for students to talk like this, it was consistently funny and it worked really well for a show like this.
Another thing that worked really well was the acting, the highlight being Chloey Rose as Megan. She nails all the different ticks that are seen in an introvert, the big one for me being when she sees David wandering around the kitchen virtually naked and freezes and I can say there were times when I did freeze when my flatmates walked into the kitchen when I was in it. There is also a lot of interesting stuff concerning her family that could add a great deal of character development later on. The other highlight is Della Maylan as Lydia, who shows a great deal of concern for Megan and when she finds out about Lydia's talents her enthusiasm works really well. She also has good deadpan delivery of the comedic lines which really works for the character, with this also being true of John Ferguson as Jamie. I also like how Rose, Maylan and Ferguson all show the worry that creative people have that their work will not be appreciated, again the highlight being Rose who hasn't told her family about her talent (which I won't spoil here), whilst also showing a creative spark which is needed in order for these characters to work in the long run, especially considering the degrees they are doing. If there is a weak link in the cast it's Cayde Sleeth Wilding as David who came across as a bit annoying throughout the episode and there doesn't seem to be as much scope for character development for David as there is for Megan, Lydia and Jamie, especially since we don't find out what degree he's taking in this episode, which could have clued us into his character. Instead he comes across as the overeager, annoying flatmate that you don't want to get. However, Wilding does work really well with the rest of the cast, in fact the chemistry across all the actors is great, which allows him some funny moments but I feel like he will be the character people will dislike in the series.
Then there is the technical side of things and this is where me watching a review copy hinders my experience, mainly concerning the lighting. There were a lot of moments throughout the episode where it was too dark for me to see anything, but I will note that Carlisle has let me know that the lighting issues will be fixed between now and the public release. There is also an issue I had with the music, or lack thereof, which made the whole thing feel a bit too quiet most of the time, especially in the transitions. Granted there are times when it worked, a great use of music from Zelda working really well, but for the most part the only music heard was the title music which did start to grate on me the more I heard it. There are also issues where I found it a bit hard to hear what the characters were saying but again this is an issue that can be easily fixed between now and the premiere of the show. Finally there's the major aspect of the show which is set to differentiate it from other shows involving students like Fresh Meat, that being the integration of Facebook. Carlisle has said that, during each episode, there will be live updates on Facebook pages for the characters, which will help add more background to the characters and help add to the viewer experience. Since this is a pre-release review the Facebook integration wasn't seen, meaning that I cannot fully judge the show since I couldn't experience such an important element.
Overall, the pilot for Meatspace was really good. The characters and the dialogue are solid, aided by great acting, especially from Chloey Rose, and there is this overall believability throughout the programme, there are issues with the lighting and sound (along with me not being able to access a major aspect of the show) but my rating is based on how I feel it will be when the pilot is finished and the Facebook integration starts up and, based on what I've seen, this is a really good pilot episode for a TV show and, especially considering the low budget of £200, offers up more laughs than shows that cost a thousand times more than that.
My Rating: 4/5
If you want to watch the pilot, go on the YouTube channel TrilbeeReviews at 9PM (BST) on the 5th of September.