Tainted Love (Machinima) 1.01 to 1.03 Review

A tv review article by: Nick Hanover

Tainted Love Orlando Jones

1.01 to 1.03

You do stupid things when you're into someone because your body chemistry has literally turned against you. There's nothing you can really do about it except accept the inevitable and ride out the storm and hope that your life doesn't go the way of Black Barry's in Tainted Love.

Tainted Love, you see, is basically a web series about how much of a moron you can become when you fall for somebody, especially if the somebody is maybe (probably) kind of crazy and tells you that you've also just gotten her pregnant. The moron in this case is Black Barry, played by Orlando Jones, who is also the creator this new Machinima Prime series. Tainted Love is only three episodes in-- the third debuted today-- but Jones has already run Barry through a near inhuman gauntlet of embarrassing decisions, criminal fiascos and dangerous plots, most of which he's not directly responsible for.

 

Watch the full first episode

The first episode starts with Barry and his girlfriend Jezebel (Deanna Russo, from the US Being Human and The Young and the Restless) heading towards a convenient store they intend to rob, when Jezebel nearly shoots Barry, prompting him to explain via voice over and flashback how he wound up in that situation. The short of it is that he met Jezebel in a bar, had some potent drinks with her and they hooked up, but he had already fallen for her. And now she has informed him that he's going to be father. See: chemistry.

Because this is a fast moving web series, the robbery does not go as planned, Barry winds up with a bullet grazing his face and then to top it off, the second episode concerns Jezebel ignoring Barry's suggestion and robbing the crime boss Barry works for as a bagman. Which brings us to the real plot of the series, Barry's realization that he has to save the mother of his child no matter the cost, even if it means taking on a crime boss and his cronies. Again, chemistry.

 

Watch the full second episode

 

Tainted Love is shot well and features entertaining performances from its cast, but at the moment, it leans too heavily on a highly kinetic, comics-influenced visual style. At any given moment, dozens of things compete for your attention in a scene, from the actor's performances, to the diginoir cinematography to Jones' Chris Rock-like voiceovers to comic panel split screens to motion comic sequences. It makes for jarring viewing, even considering it's a webseries and therefore custom built for short attention spans. Where Jones and company allow the characters to take the spotlight, as is the case in the beginning of episode two, as Barry and Jezebel lay in bed together and you see that they do have tender moments rather than prolonged screaming matches, the show almost becomes something uniquely artful. Then we're treated to a cut to Jones' Chris Rock imitation and some cheesy comic art and the effect is ruined.

Similarly, there are glaring plot holes that threaten to overwhelm the narrative, most of which show up in the third episode, as Barry prepares to take on his boss with the help of a secret arsenal he had hidden away that would impress a Navy Seal team. We're constantly told how poor Barry is, so where exactly did this weaponry come from? And how did he get trained on it? The latter question is possibly answered by a throwaway visual in the first episode that simply states Barry's education was "Marine corps," but this would be great information to be handed via flashback or at least dialogue. Jones is clearly more interested in working towards the kind of giddy, hyperviolence of Guy Ritchie and his peers than the character work that makes Tarantino such a standout in his field, and that's too bad. Because there's something to the idea of exploring a couple who thinks they're Bonnie and Clyde when they're really only a step above Sid and Nancy.

 

Watch the full third episode

That said, Tainted Love is surprisingly well choreographed and the action sequences (of which there are plenty more; Machinima sent me all six of the episodes that have been produced so far) do make this an entertaining series. The show is by no means a waste of time, and there's a good chance that Jones will find a more comfortable middle ground between characterization and action before too long. As long as his influences aren't clouding his own judgment, that is.


Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he's the last of the secret agents and he's your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Comics Bulletin, where he reigns as the co-managing editor, or at Panel Panopticon, which he started as a joke and now takes semi-seriously. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd rants about his potentially psychopathic roommate on twitter @Nick_Hanover and explore the world of his musical alter ego at Fitness and Pontypool.

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