Monday, 29 March 2010

Web Season Review - The Ballad of Mary and Ernie - Season One

Well, I'm assuming the five episodes currently available constitute a first season...

It takes a big man to be a town Marshall, and Ernie is a BIG man. In fact, he's about our size, while all the town's inhabitants are the size of... well, small toys. Ernie takes his responsibilities seriously though and tries hard to fit in with the people in the town. Through various adventures he meets Mary, who is the same size as he is - but will he stay faithful to Nan, the woman he's engaged to though he can fit her in the palm of his hand? Nan is instantly jealous of the bigger woman and tries to set her up in various ways; Ernie also has to deal with the unending adoration of "The Kid", a juvenile who hero-worships Ernie no matter what. There’s also Blad Bart, a mad, bad, gun-tooting cowboy who’s out to get Marshall Ernie.  Oh, and at one point killer sheep... but I'll let you find out about them for yourself.

The Ballad of Mary and Ernie is relentlessly silly but James Lane as Marshal Ernie and Vanessa Celso as Mary Venezuala play it dead straight, and that’s really what makes it work. There’s no attempt at realism with the little people – they’re just plastic figurines – but they’re treated as if they’re real and, in some crazy way, you actually feel that they are. Robert Stadd directed and produced Mary and Earnie with some style; the image quality is very good, the micro-sized sets look great, and there are some very funny moments of visual comedy (I particularly like the horses – you’ll have to watch it to see what I mean). The sound quality, often the main failing in indie movie-making endeavours, is great.

In terms of the writing, there’s plenty of humour, though personally I think it would have been funnier if there had been more emphasis on the surreal and less innuendo. In terms of rating it would probably be 12A/PG-13 material – nothing terrible, just a little rude in places. There’s a real storyline running through the five episodes (each approximately 5 minutes in length); the episodes stand up well on their own merits but seeing them all in order is definitely a requirement. There’s a great sci-fi twist in the last episode; again James Lane and Vanessa Celso do an amazing job of keeping straight faces while coming out with the most ridiculous dialogue.

If you like your comedy slightly surreal and whimsical, you’ll definitely enjoy The Ballad of Mary and Ernie. I’m not a fan of Westerns myself, so I may have missed some satirical references, but the humour works well. The music (by Matthias Weber and Samuel Peters) deserves a special mention too – not only is it good, it adds immensely to the humour and atmosphere (especially the main theme). It’s definitely worth 25 minutes of your time to watch the five episodes.

Watch all the episodes at:

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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