Kudos to the makers of Riese, who have eschewed the traditional method of getting a series seen through a network in favour of releasing it themselves online. I love this approach. Taking out the middle man like this is a brave step, and one that I hope pays off for the people behind this ambitious new web series. With character deigns and settings that are sure to please the Steampunk fans, it does seem to have more to it than just pretty imagery. Granted, I've only seen the first ten minute episode so far, but it looks promising.
Occasionally you are reminded that it is a web series and made on a limited budget, but these moments are only fleeting, as the series has been shot with such style that it looks much more expensive than it really is. Set in a post apocalyptic world stuffed with Steampunk inspired costumes and devices, Riese tells the story of a young woman who is hounded by a strange religious sect as she tries to piece together her past. The plot, while not original in the slightest, should nevertheless be just about enough to keep people revisiting the series (in addition, or course, to those great visuals).
I'm just wondering though, is a large audience ready to take on Steampunk concepts? The genre doesn't always translate that well to the screen, and while I love what I've seen, I'm curious to see what other people think about it. Steampunk is big in the SF literature scene, and has been for a while, but will its status as a recent gimmick be enough to sustain a series? In all honesty I would imagine so. The genre has some great ideas, but thankfully Riese doesn't appear to be using Steampunk as the crux of the whole thing. This is a good thing, as the moment a show starts to point out what it is in big letters to its audience, its days are numbered.
Riese may not be to everyone's tastes, but it is a fun piece of independent science fiction, and that is to be applauded. Whether or not it garners millions of viewers isn't really the point- it is already a success in that it has successfully been made, features a superb cast and an interesting visual identity, and is providing a section of fandom with something they have wanted to see on screen for a long time. I for one shall be watching the whole run of Riese, and I must applaud the cast and crew for their big brass (steam powered) balls for setting out to make it.
Visit the Riese website
Watch Riese on YouTube