So a Priest, a Deacon, a Catholic School girl & an Angel Walk into a Dark Alley…

So I’ve been trying to get back to this blog and I’ve started watching a handful of web series only to decide they weren’t worth reviewing. Yes, some things are THAT bad.
But I finally have a show I want to write about and it’s simply divine (yeah I hate myself a little right now).

Blood. Religion. Thick Font. This series ain't playing.

Head’s up – no way can I avoid spoilers on this puppy. You’ve been warned.

Divine is the name of an earthbound angel who’s superheroing it up against demons that prey on regular humans. Simple concept and I’ve seen it a variety of times before. The strength of this show is in the execution, from plot structure to acting to camera work.

The producers of the show have stated they want it to be watchable in any order. I have to admit they’ve done a pretty good job of that. You can jump in on any episode and move on to any other. We’ve seen non linear narratives a lot, from Pulp Fiction to Memento to Last Year at Marienbad (gotcha with that one, didn’t I?). But integrating the concept into a web series format is bringing it to a new level, as the audience can choose the order of the nonlinearness (I know that’s not a word). It wouldn’t work for every concept, but here it’s definitely part of the selling point.

So there’s these two men of the cloth working at a mission where our avenging angel sweeps the floor and sleeps in a spare room. The young priest, Father Christopher, is there due to a crisis of conscience (involving the death of someone he wanted to help) and a relocating from his superiors. He showed up in a cab driven by a sort of symbolic Christ figure only to discover he has to help out in healing rituals for Divine, who comes in from a beating. Also there used to be another priest (played by Misha Collins of Supernatural) but something really bad happened to him. Oh, and a catholic school girl, demon baby, a Minotaur & what appears to be Cardinal Richelieu carrying a falcon. Because: Reasons I’d know if I read more of the bible (I doubt that).

Everything clear now? Good. That’s as clear as it gets. I’m not knocking the mystery. I’m into it, they got me hooked and I hope next season is coming. Although, judging by their indiegogo campaign, it might be a while until they have the funding they want. While the kickstarter campaign for the first season was way successful, the second season’s indiegogo didn’t turn out so well.

Canada based Maple Blood Productions packages this up with stunts, effects, solid camera work and sleek editing. It’s made by pros who know what they’re doing. And the effects, while okay by motion pictures standards, stand up against any of my Sy Fy channel guilty pleasures (Lost Girl is my favorite, by the way). In fact, the effects on Divine are much better than many television  shows I’ve seen.

The pacing of the show could be more streamlined and compacted. The fight sequences are great but not so awesome as to be so long, proportionate to the episodes. There’s a similar problem with heavy dialogue scenes. I find myself sitting through an extra minute or two of dialogue after I got the point. This is also due to the fact that the dialogue is written extremely on the nose. At times it’s over-obvious. I find it odd they trust a smart audience to follow the show’s structure but not in the writing of the lines. However, maybe that’s appropriate for the audience that would be seeking this sort of show out. As I mentioned, it recalls some of the better Sy Fy series I’ve enjoyed and the writing on that stuff is certainly groan-worthy. I imagine it’s to keep the ADD preteen boys in the loop, or they’ll miss something.

The biggest mystery for me is Asian Catholic Schoolgirl Cosplayer (her name is Jin, actually). There’s at least a hint to everyone else’s past or motivations. I have no idea how she fits in, other than eye candy and sarcasm. Hopefully season two will solve that mystery first, cause she’s not doing much for me at the moment. In fact, she has the weakest delivery of anyone in Divine. I can’t tell if she’s sarcastic, genuine, or just reading lines off a cue card.

A sort of off – topic pet peeve. Blood on the face. This happens in a lot of horror and action films I’ve seen. In Ep 4 Deacon Jim and Father Christopher have just performed a ritual over a bloody Divine, during which they got a lot of blood on them. Ok, blood happens. But why aren’t they wiping their faces off through their entire conversation in the Holy Locker Room? This drives me crazy, it’s one of those filmmaking conventions that pull me out of the story cause all I can think is “I don’t know a damn person who wouldn’t be wiping the blood off their face and out of their mouth the first chance they got.” I get that it’s thought of as symbolic, but 9 times out of 10 it looks contrived and silly to me. Had the same problem with Bite Me that I wrote about in my first review. I just didn’t bring it up at the time.

In the end, I really enjoyed this show. It’s not perfect, and judging by the behind the scenes clips (check em out. wire stunts! bull head make up!) the creators are really dedicated and good at what they do. I also want to mention that the score is tight and well tuned into the pacing of the show.

I’d recommend it. Highly. Hell, watch it in any order. It’s better than alot of whatever’s on your TIVO. I’d say go buy a t-shirt and give them some support, but their online shop doesn’t seem to be working. I know this cause I was going to toss them $20 or so clams for a t-shirt. Well, let’s hope we see more angel on demon violence sometime soon.

(Fun fact: I just looked up the correct spelling of t-shirt. Allegedly, there isn’t one.)

Favorite Parts

Ep 02 • Demon Momma beats the crap out of street gang. I was rooting for her in the fight with Divine.

Ep 03 • Foul mouthed cabby driving the priest. Even the heavy handed JC visual reference at the end doesn’t ruin it for me. In fact, if Christ came back as a foul mouthed Eastern European cabby, I’d love to see the reaction of the Religious Right.

Ep 05 • Dude transforms into Minotaur. Solid effects with a Lou Ferrigno shirt ripping shot.

Least Favorite

Ep 03 • Expository phone conversation Father Christopher has with his mother. Too long, too on the nose, and a phone call nestled in a flashback? Sloppy storytelling. He could have flashed back to the actual event he’s telling her about. This was just to do shots of him cutting up fish (hey! can we get a few more metaphors in here?!).

Ep 05 • Chemistry between Divine and Jin. I want some buddy/buddy chemistry between them. His reactions to her bland delivery seem forced.

Ep  06 • Fine episode, but not a good way to end a season, in my opinion. Feels like rising action, rather than a cliff hanger or ending on some high energy.

It’s time for LINKS…

Some relevant stuff.

Divine Website

Divine Youtube Channel

A short review of the first episode from back in Sept.
And less relevant stuff…

Comic Book Recommendation (since that’s what I’ve been doing anyway, might as well give it a name).

Rex Mundi. Written by Arvid Nelson. Fantastic, epic, alternate history graphic novel. Best way to describe the plot and setting is a non-sucky version of the Da Vinci Code set in a 1930s France where magic exists and the Church is still a huge political power.

Some Web Series PLUGS
Follow Up to Last Post

After my review of Hollywood Girl and the follow up discussion with Courtney Zito in the comments section of this blog, I watched the latest episode. She’s definitely trying to focus the show and improve it.  S2•Ep2 is here.

More Canadian Action

You like teh action? You should be watching CLUTCH. I would review it, but I can’t. I consider the creators friends of mine and am working on a future project with them. So obviously, there’s a bias in anything I’d say. So I’m just plugging it. Go watch their show! It’s worth your time.
That’s it for now, folks. Hopefully someone reads this and comes back for more. Even more hopefully I will get back here sooner next time.