By Anna Pickard
“Three scientists have vanished. Two bloggers are under siege. One man has an urgent message to deliver. None of them are safe.”
I can see what they’re doing there, certainly. Kirill is a series for the internet, so bring in some internet people to make it relevant to the medium! Brilliant. Sadly, though, while MSN was spending six months creating the series, blogging went and died. Well, that’s what Wired claimed last week anyway, so it must be true. So surely the question is more: “Two bloggers are under siege in a forest with no one around to see, hear or read them: does anyone care?” Still, perhaps with this series, MSN can single-handedly bring blogging back to life. If bloggers’ lives are this full of derring-do, how can anyone not want to join their ranks? Although it does seem to be a bit dangerous. So is trying to watch Kirill. With a name like that, searching through Google is likely to find you lots of information on microscopic sea life with only a minor mis-typing, and once you actually get there, MSN forces you to download a whole new player in order to get any further. Still, it’s possibly very much worth it. The first episode is more audaciously written than any other web-series I’ve seen: tense, slow, giving very little away and unafraid to lead the audience slowly and atmospherically into the story, even though there’s only a very short time to hook them and keep their attention. I’m hooked, though I don’t know for how long, and if the drama becomes any more of an aggressive sales pitch for MSN platforms (“Pro-fess-orrrrr, we’ve managed to locate the victim through his MSN Spaces Blog, and we’ll be contacting him on MSN Messenger”) then I’m out; but if you can get through the annoyance of the medium, the use of the form actually appears to be fresh and dramatically pretty intense. The first third of the opener consists solely of someone counting slowly to 100 at a plodding pace, as the camera pans around numbers crossed off on a wall. And then it pans further around a dirty room, and shows a dirty man sitting looking terrified. Next you hear the words “Coming, ready or not” when the counting reaches 100 – and the refrain of a children’s game has rarely sounded so scary. As the voice promises to seek whoever’s hiding, suddenly the man sleeping against the number-laden wall wakes up and shoots a hole in a nearby pipe. Is he one of these bloggers we’ve heard so much about? I can’t wait to read that post: “Plumbing still seems on the blink, can’t believe we employed top local guy Joe to put this system in. I’m never trusting him again. Still, fixed it with the dried-bloody bandage from my hand, and then got on with the day. Cheese sandwich for lunch, maybe?” Next we see the man in the horrible room crossing something off a To Do list. If only our lives were exciting enough to include list items such as “Sleep with gun in hand”, “Don’t let the outside in” and “Drink – Eat” (these bloggers, they have to document everything, don’t they?). And a computer beeps; MATCH FOUND, it says, in the kind of big green flashing letters it would be handy if computers actually used. “Gotcha,” says the main character, the only thing he’s said in the entire episode. You see? Audacious. I’m prepared to stick with it, even though the stupid player is currently threatening to blow up my poor little computer; the quality of the content seems, in this case, to far surpass the technology given to it. And making good television is what this is meant to be about, no?