The Webseries...

Rumours of a dramatized Captain Canuck project have floated about for years, from animated TV series to live-action feature films. So it was a bit of a surprise when one such rumour actually came to life, using both a medium (the internet) and a financial model (crowdfunding) that couldn't even be imagined when the comic was first published.

The 2013 webseries in some ways proved more -- and less --- than a fan could've hoped for.

Financed using the new crowdfunding model, it was composed of 5 episodes each about 5 minutes long -- except half that was often credits, so really each episode was only 2-3 minutes long. Though clearly dealing with a tight budget, the series looked quite good. It borrowed a page from Japanese anime by focusing more on design than movement, often using short-cut animation (such as panning across a still image or something) but in a way that it told the story lively and dynamically. The voice talent was pretty impressive. Notably landing Kris Holden-Ried (The Lost Girl) to voice Captain Canuck, with Paul Amos (Sex After Kids) as villain Gold, Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, Bitten) as a gender-switched Blue Fox, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) as an even more re-imagined Redcoat, and even cameos by the likes of Craig Thomas (Murdoch Mysteries) as Professor Walker. In other words, if a live-action production had been mounted with this same cast, people would think it was a respectable line-up.

Once again, it was a re-imagining of Captain Canuck -- although perhaps swinging back closer to the original than some of the other re-inventions have been. C.C. here was a dynamic man of action with various gadgets and back-up support -- though I'm not sure if it was ever clear whether he was supposed to be a government agent or not. The costume had been re-designed, various gadgets and accoutrements added making him seem more like Iron Man at times, or the movie-version of Batman (same thing, really). And his cocky, happy-to-brawl personality didn't entirely evoke the original Tom Evans. Mr. Gold, meanwhile, looked like something out of The Prisoner of Zenda or Marvel's Count Nefaria more than the business man of the early comics.

I'll admit, I continue to have conflicted feelings about this constant desire to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. I get that that's what creative types like to do, and if the comic wasn't a huge hit to begin with, why religiously stick to recreating it? But equally, how do you create a Captain Canuck identity -- a brand to build a fandom around -- if every time someone revives it, they're basically starting from scratch? As well, it makes you wonder what the creators are into: the character, or simply the commercial potential in exploiting a recognizable name? Were the makers of this new webseries big fans of the comic (in one version or another) or did they simply see it as a way of piggy-backing their idea on an existing property?

But the biggest problem with the webseries was simply that though it was entertaining and fast-paced for what it was -- what it was wasn't a whole lot. As mentioned, the combined running time of the whole story (minus credits) was probably 10-15 minutes. So, not surprisingly, there wasn't a lot to it. Lots of running about and action -- but not too much to actually hook a viewer, to necessarily make someone eager to see more adventures of this particular incarnation of C.C. The "plot" was vague, and characterization/emotion almost entirely absent. There were some cute wisecracks, some big James Bond-y action scenes -- and that was about it.

Now, as I say, with only 10-15 minutes, it's not like they could be expected to craft The Watchmen -- or even Chariots of Fire (Captain Canuck #11-13). But at the same time, if 10-15 minutes is all you've got to try and boost the franchise, ignite fandom, and maybe lead to further projects, you've really got to deliver something. Even if the webseries was really only intended as a demo, showing what they could do.

As it is, it was a moderately diverting 5 episodes -- but I can't say there was anything about it that necessarily made me eager for a sequel, or to wish to see future adventures of this C.C. and his friends. (With that said: it didn't make me NOT want to see more -- it just left me largely ambivalent). Still, in technical execution (direction, design, actors, wisecracks) it was good work.

For more on the series -- and the series itself! -- check out the official Captain Canuck site.

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