“Queen Elizabeth heard that and she’s gapping it over here and is going to come and scissor-kick you in the head.”
As my first webseries for The Reading List I give you Nothing Much To Do which was created by The Candle Wasters. It’s a Youtube show which uses multiple channels but the full story playlist can be found here.
There are lots of similar literary-inspired webseries on my Reading List so I’ll just give you a brief outline. Most of them are modernised adaptations of classic literature (i.e. books etc. in the public domain), shown in vlog-stye episodes of roughly 5 minutes long on Youtube. They also usually have ‘transmedia elements’ e.g. active twitter accounts for characters. I got into them via The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (adapted from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice).
Like most webseries, I discovered & decided to watch Nothing Much To Do(abbreviated to NMTD, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) because of enthusiastic comments on videos from webseries I watched – in this case mainly people spelling ‘flamingoes’ wrong!* 😉 Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite Shakespeare play, primarily because it showed me I could have a favourite Shakespeare play when I studied it at some point in secondary school**. I found it really funny and the language didn’t seem like such a barrier any more so I was always going to be interested seeing it ‘literary-webseries’erised but I didn’t realise quite how much I was going to enjoy it… It was in the March of this year, I’d just found an internship I really liked the look of and was up late frantically trying to write an application before the deadline the next/that day. By the time I’d finished it was approaching 3am but because of CV-related tension I decided to watch the first couple of NMTD episodes to relax before I went to sleep – I think you can see where this is going. A couple turned into a few which turned into a few more… Reader, I did not sleep that night but I did watch the entirety of NMTD!
It’s the first non-American/Canadian webseries that I’ve watched so the whole thing was a Kiwi education, getting over the concept of seasons at the opposite time of the year etc. I really enjoyed the multiple channels giving different perspectives of same events and each having different styles and appreciated the large ensemble cast, most of whom featured in videos a lot throughout the story. I haven’t looked at the twitter/tumblr/instagram stuff for the story but the interaction between characters and viewers in the Youtube comments is really cool leading to an interesting combination of comments treating the characters as fictional and as if they were real people. The description of the vlogs was always worth a read and added to the realistic nature of the episodes as did episodes which were less plot driven and more like videos posted by real-life vloggers – eg. Hero’s make-up tutorial, room tour and cooking demonstration. The dialogue(/monologue) plus the way they’re delivered also feels very natural and I suspect that a decent smattering of improv helps this. Other things I love include cute, random annotations/drawings and geek references (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, GoT & Benedict Cumberbatch ftw). Nothing Much To Do is an absolutely hilarious adaptation (that also traverses the whole emotional spectrum) and is one of best literary webseries out there. And what’s more, it was totally worth suffering through the next day with severe sleep deprivation!
All Much Ado About Nothing SPOILERS are over 400 years old but still…
I can’t really pick favourite moments, there are so many great ones and I don’t want to make this post longer than it already is! Besides I’m bound to forget to put ones that are actually the bits I loved most.
But I will say that the episode ’TRUTH’ is fabulous from the lines to Jake McGregor’s performance and I’m happy to admit I’ve rewatched that episode by itself several times since just to brighten my day 🙂
The weaving of music through the webseries definitely deserves a shout-out from making the effort to do their own version of ’Sigh Not So’ to the goofy sing-alongs.
As a Brit I totally appreciated the general anglophilia of series, it’s why I picked the “Queen Elizabeth…” quote to top this post, hard decision though it was (I’m patiently waiting for the opportunity to use it myself). I completely conform to the British stereotype Beatrice lists later in the same video, I have a deep fondness for tea, scones & Keep Calm & Carry On posters – I’ve visited the second-hand bookshop where the Keep Calm & Carry On poster which kickstarted the trend was uncovered; I’ve been in enough heated debates over the correct pronunciation of the word ‘scone’ to realise their importance; and “I would stop drinking tea for you” really is one of the truest declarations of love I’ve ever heard.
*It transpired that – believe it or not(!) – all those people knew exactly what they were writing which was a plural fusion of the words ‘flamingo’ and ‘mango’ or ‘flamangoes’ which is what NMTD fans call themselves and if this seems bizarre to you, I would like to reassure you that even if you know the reasons why flamingos and mangoes are important (to NMTD fans) it is still pretty bizarre that this is the fandom name.
**We watched the Kenneth Branagh version alongside reading it fyi, if you’re interested.