Arts Runoff: PUBLIC SAFETY

Summary: Otter Nonsense, Midd’s oldest improv group, has become a for-credit organization.  As an independent J-Term project, some Otters (and friends) are writing and producing a series of 10- to 15-minute Webisodes about a fictional Department of Public Safety at “Corwin College.” Officer Greg (Greg Dorris ’13), a former cop, has been hired to bring order to the sinking P-Safe department.  (I know the series is nothing new — I wanted to wait to review it until the second episode came out.)

Good: Solid storytelling, immediately accessible characters. // Pretty funny, especially episode 2. // High production quality; nothing in the filming or audio to distract from the writing and acting. // Greg Dorris and Michaela Lieberman stand out as actors (of course, the latter is true again and again and again).

Bad: Even after the upswing of episode 2, “Public Safety” still runs the risk of just being “Reno 911” with different uniforms and a splash of “The Office.” The producers haven’t quite found a way to make it feel like there’s something special about the Public Safety job, or this office in particular. We have some archetypal characters (the sophomoric goofuses, the overenthusiastic rookie, the serious but doomed leader, etc.) // Sometimes the humor is a little predictable, and less often juvenile. (E.g., I saw the skunk thing coming.)

Broad: The Otters are the cool kids at Middlebury. People will come to any Otters project already prepared to enjoy it. Maybe that’s why it’s so nice when the group pushes its boundaries: the Otters don’t have to push any boundaries to remain immensely popular, but they do it anyway, because they’re sincerely interested in improv and comedy as creative outlets. (Not to say there aren’t plenty of other people on campus who feel that way, too.)

Contextual Rating: If you have something important to do this J-Term,
…do it, and see this show if you can.
…put it off and see this show. (The episodes are only about 12 minutes long. There’s no excuse not to watch them.)
…skip it. SEE THIS SHOW.

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