In a universe much like our own, in a time much like the present, a scattering of people with mutant genes is hidden within the general population. These genes grant them various powers and abilities. Some are super smart, some are super strong, some can create fire etc. Two groups of super-people, a good one called “The Fallen Angel Network” and a bad one called “The Junkyard Dogs” race and battle each other across the globe in an effort to recruit these people to their side (or kill them). You may think you’ve heard this before, but trust me, you’ve never seen anything quite like Chronicles of Syntax.
I’m a huge comic book fan. As such, I don’t have a problem with basic premises being recycled. How different are the backstories of Batman and Iron Man, really? Or Doctor Doom and Baron Zemo? So long as I like the basic characters, and the writing distinguishes them in some way, it’s fine by me. What separates Luke Skywalker and King Arthur? One was a long lost heir who was given a magic sword by a wizard, the other was King Arthur.
Writer-creator Susan E. Clarke improves on the basic model by adding an additional plot layer: doomsday. Oh, and time travel. Apparently, these mutants have a message from the future embedded in their genetic code; a message which could avert, or at least mitigate, the coming apocalypse.
There is some decent plot writing behind Chronicles of Syntax. This is doubly impressive because the episodes run about a half-hour in length, and triply impressive on the internet, where uploading anything longer than ten minutes is often considered risky. The acting is generally good, and, although there are a few spotty moments, they are seperated by lengthy periods of high quality showmaking.
It’s important to understand that, unlike many of its contemporaries, Chronicles of Syntax was made by volunteers. If some of the production values on the first season don’t seem quite professional, well, they aren’t. Once you’ve accepted that, it’s much easier to enjoy (plus, the longer you stick around, the better those values become. People can learn, you know?) And while not everyone is a professional, some members of the team clearly are. Daniel Tyler-Smith, for example, plays good-guy genius Steven Bramwell here, but has also appeared in things like “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” and numerous stage productions. His performance is, as you might expect, quite good.
The first season focuses on team leader Sian (Laura O’Donaghue), the daughter of the team’s mysterious benefactor. O’Donaghue seems to struggle with her leading-lady badass action hero role in the first couple episodes, but soon settles in. By the end of the first season I found myself both expecting, and cheering for, scenes where she gets to go all Incredible Hulk.
All in all it’s a great series. It’s in a completely different vein than most of what’s out there, but I understand why it and the other shows on YouTube’s “The Multiverse Channel” have been successful. No community is more supportive of their content than the geek community.
Watch Chronicles of Syntax on YouTube !
***Update**** Catch the 1st episode of Season 2 here!