Hulu’s ‘Battleground’ Campaigns for Web Video

For the record, I’m reluctant to start regularly paying attention to original web content for all kinds of reasons, not the least among them that it threatens to dramatically add to my work load.

Nevertheless, I decided to take the plunge and sample “Battleground,” a new half-hour series (22 Battleground
minutes, actually, sans ads) premiering Feb. 14 on Hulu.

“Battleground” sort of looks like a TV show, employing what’s become a pretty tired device — it’s really a documentary about a political campaign! — to obscure its low-key production values. Yet the content and premise, while not bad, simply aren’t enough to get me to sit in front of a computer and watch.

The show deals with a senate race in Wisconsin, as covered from the perspective of several people working for an underdog candidate. Writer/director J.D. Walsh has a good ear for political jargon, and the cast is (with a few exceptions) fine. But the limited scope of the production works against it, since all the big events are discussed, not shown. Moreover, there are a fair number of direct-to-camera confessionals meant to reflect the documentary format but which simply feel like “The Office Lite.”

Promotionally speaking, the political angle has some appeal, and introducing the show in an election year has a certain logic. That said, nothing here is going to make anyone forget Aaron Sorkin. Like a lot of these web series, it has the feel of a master’s thesis — promising, but rough around the edges. It basically feels like the kind of thing that would end up on Sundance Channel or IFC.

The bottom line is the bar ought to be pretty high for original online fare, and “Battleground” — based on the first two episodes — doesn’t clear it.

So there. I reviewed a web show. Don’t expect it to become a habit … yet, anyway.

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