Don’t you just hate when an actor reaches that point in their career where they just stop trying, you know when they just play themselves in every movie come comedy, action or high water. Fortunately Alan Tudyk hasn’t reached that point as seen here by him playing an actor best known for a short lived sci-fi show from over a decade ago where he played pilot to Nathan Fillion’s swashbuckling captain. A show which he now struggles to escape the low budget shadow and fanbase of. That is how you stretch yourself as an actor and this is……………………
Con man tells the tale of Wray Nerely a struggling actor best known for cult classic t.v show ‘Spectrum’. We know this isn’t Firefly because we run into Sean Maher later on and it seems Firefly was very different in this reality as he seems to have be the only person involved with it, after Joss followed his dream of becoming a stage hand and Summer opted to play someone normal for once. Anyway the life of Wray Nerely takes him from geek to nerd, con to comic book store, internet to prime time and in his travels he encounters many from this walk of life. Some we recognise like Sean Astin famed for playing a Hobbit, while others are playing new original characters like Nolan North who here plays a well known voice over artist. Apparently they tried switching his initials around to throw people off the scent but for some reason that didn’t work.
Yet others are faced with never hitting the big time at all, like Felicia Day who is in this world a volunteer at such conventions and pretty damn efficient if I do say so myself. In fact I think it’s fair to say that everyone with so much as a line is a name you might know and this can be a little off putting at times as you miss sections of the story as you try to place a face or voice, getting it just in time to stumble at the next surprise cameo. Air marshal on the plane; Wil Wheaton, bartender mixing the drinks; Casper Van Dien.
Honestly I would recommend promising yourself a rewatch to try and pick them out otherwise you’re gonna miss what’s going on. The episodes are quite short and they manage to move at a fair old clip with two conventions, a date and more all within thirteen; ten minute episodes. All the while we follow Tudyk with various people tagging in to play second string. See that’s something I feel I should warn you about up front. There was a lot of talk about Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk back together and he’s there from near the beginning but only via skype. See after ‘Spectrum’ ended Nathan managed to hit the big time with a series of Bond-esque movies with him as the lead. The same can’t be said for Tudyk who has fallen back on some voice over work to supplement his convention appearances. All that could be about to change however with him going in for a part in a Clint Eastwood film, or as he likes to call it a proper part. Its one of the big bits in the series as we see Tudyk desperate for some fame and recognition outside of nerds in comedy t-shirts and bad cosplay.
However he doesn’t push it too far, sure he get’s drunk and calls them on it but he’s only too happy to head off to another con straight after and he seems genuinely over the moon when he gets his own action figure. Not as over the moon as when he thinks he might stand a chance with Tricia Helfer but still. The series plays to it’s web series structure feeling almost like a newspaper comic strip. The plot, such as it is, is light and easy enough to follow aided by the fact that they generally repeat and reword what’s happened so far to keep you up to speed so you don’t miss the rapid fire jokes, so don’t worry about marathoning the show, though who am I kidding you will do anyway.
Speaking of, the gags aren’t the only good bit about the show with each of the actors pulling in a decent performance for some often quite small parts. Heck this could be the best I’ve seen Felicia Day in a while and she manages a very memorable Tudyk impression. Considering who some of these “actors” are and what we’ve seen them in previously this is saying something and a mark for the writer and director team of Alan and Tudyk. Okay so maybe the actors get some of the credit. Other than the actors and script there isn’t too much else to say as it looks decent but considering how much it cost and how they just used conventions they were at already that isn’t saying much. You’re still going to have to pay for that though. Literally.
See unlike most web series that are dropped on youtube like a baby into a pool wearing lead pyjamas and left to learn to swim like some En Sabah Nur. But not this one. I’ve mentioned Yahoo and I’ve discussed Amazon, well con man thought this was all a bit mainstream and opted for Vimeo.
Still to carry on the comic strip connection from earlier I would say that 99p for ten minutes of this is better value than most comics these days. These don’t really stand on their own either but you won’t come away feeling cheated, manipulated and talked down to which is more than could be said for most of the stuff coming out of the big two these days. After all this managed to come out on schedule at least.