H+ the digital series is so named due to being about the “advancement of humanity” or creating a human plus and because it is a web or “digital” show available on youtube. It is set twenty minutes into the future and carries on the tradition of the march of technology in particular the onslaught of smart phones. See the world today is so small and so fast that we can longer afford to leave our computers; instead we have merely shrunk them down and laden them with games we would not normally bother playing. However for some this is not enough, in the time it takes you to lift your phone from your pocket the contract could be lost and so we have now placed them on our wrist like an old sci-fi video communicator except without the live video option, though I’m sure that’s coming in the next model. But for some this is not enough just think of all that effort and time wasted lifting your wrist up to eye level and so we have begun to strap them to our faces.’ H+ the digital series’ imagines a future one step beyond where we have injected them into our very bodies.
Okay so that isn’t really the bulk of the show but it is the beginning, for now people use the ‘H+’ technology to swipe away at an almost constant H.U.D before their eyes allowing them to surf the web, get the match scores and participate in video conversations with people across the globe (despite the fact that the thing is inside your body and thus unable to have a video capturing your face for transmit). We start on an ordinary day as a couple descend the garage levels trying to find a parking space when the world ends. People begin to drop into fits and comas, the only people unaffected are those out of signal range or simply without the implant. We quickly learn that some kind of virus has been sent along the network and the way the device works mean that this is almost literally short circuiting the brains of people who have come to rely on it like another muscle or cortex. How this works for those who go out of range of the signal on a normal day I’m not quite sure, maybe the true wonder of the future is the removal of black spots which means you can now be bothered twenty four hours a day wherever you go.
The most interesting thing about the story however is how it is told for as soon as we are comfortable with the scene in motion we jump back to several years before the whole thing and then on to a few years after to witness the aftermath and effect on the population all the while joining different characters in different parts of the world all trying to piece the mystery together of who is trying to use H+ and for what goal. The problem is that this, combined with the four to eight minute run time for each episode, gives the series a slightly disjointed affair. Despite fairly quickly picking up a few core characters across the time zones, along with a decent enough supporting cast given the time allotted, (and Alexis Denisof with an “Irish” accent) it still feels fairly hard to emphasise too much with them or care too much about the outcome without the important fleshing out that was cut for time.
In truth the series does not do a lot with its setting, perhaps due to the money on offer and running time allotted for a web series on youtube and so focuses on the mystery, which we know always works out well *cough* Lost, *cough* Battlestar. Like most webseries H+’s episodes come in between four and eight minutes each and depends much more directly upon its adverts and watchers for support. While this isn’t much of a problem for shows about sitting at your computer or going to the dog park it does not leave a sci-fi series like this one with much breathing room. This is all the worse for trying to jump across three distinct time ranges and so many characters in so short a time it comes across a little flat and without getting too much in to spoilers the ending feels more than a little underwhelming and has a few moments that are pulled out of somebodies bottom with the explanation of ‘Science !’ and though it is open enough to warrant a second series, one has not materialized yet over a year later and I’m not sure I’m that invested in the world or its characters to race to watch the new episodes.
If we were to take ‘The Guild’ and ‘F to the 7th’ as traditional television then ‘H+’ is a box set of ‘Lost’ or ‘Battlestar Galactica’. It has big ideas and a wide cast but can end up tripping over itself in trying to sound clever and producing the twists and turns to keep the viewer hooked and in the end may be better viewed as duvet day marathon than as an ongoing series in order to keep track of whos doing what or why. If this were to be picked up as a full t.v series or if it were to be chronologically straightened out I can see it flying better than the slightly disjointed and rushed affair we’ve got at the moment. There is a reason that even ongoing stories like JourneyQuest have kept their cast small and the story easy to follow and what puzzles me is that the nature of web shows is not so set in stone at the moment that tweaks can not be made, after all look at ‘Comedians in Cars getting Coffee’ that will regular run its episodes up to twenty minutes. Though perhaps this once again brings us back round to the issue of money, after all this is not a larp session in the woods or able to just use regular restaurants and parks for its setting. All in all the series is not bad but does not live up to its ideas, at least not fully and perhaps the best that can be said about it is that it’s a series that is more about the journey than the destination. Though I can’t imagine this will please everyone.