Aerial Telly‘s knowledge of and interest in the videogame industry begins and ends with his Vertigolf habit so he will let the bint from the pilot explain "jPod is a freakish netherworld within Neotronic Arts. It is a product of the Y2K glitch which caused random employees with J surnames to be assigned to the basement satellite offices". jPod is also CBC‘s adaptation of Douglas Coupland‘s best-selling novel, set in Vancouver videogame company Neotronic Arts. Ethan Jarlewski (David Kopp), our sappy hero, is the gore specialist for BoardX, the insanely violent game the podsters are developing. Kaitlin Joyce (Emilie Ullerup) is the new girl, a character designer. Bree (Steph Song) is the motion capture expert with serious control issues, Cowboy (Ben Ayres) is the handsome shoots-from-the-hip programmer and poonhound. John Doe (Torrance Coombs) is the backgrounds maestro – a boy determined to be statistically average in every way (hence the deed poll name change to John Doe) after a traumatic upbringing in a lesbian commune where he was cruelly christened Juniper. You can see how someone might want to blend in after that.
"Kaitlin has to deal with the rising sexual tension between her and Ethan and the other podsters’ discovery of her past as a gigantic fat pig."
Things get complicated fast in jPod. Idiot management-speak spewing executive Steve Lefkowitz (Colin Cunningham) wants to incorporate a cuddly turtle into the gorefest that is BoardX, in a damp-eyed expression of love to the son he barely sees. Ethan has to deal with his dope dealing mother, philandering father and run-ins with Chinese Mafia kingpin Kam Fong (Raugi Yu). Kaitlin has to deal with the rising sexual tension between her and Ethan and the other podsters’ discovery of her past as a gigantic fat pig. John Doe wrestles with his attraction towards Bree, Cowboy pursues Internet lesbians and Bree has an unsupportive, unforgiving family.
"There are many parallels between Aerial Telly and John Lennon (none of which involve addiction to heroin, beating women or abandoning a son)"
And what about that Bree? Steph Song, who plays her, is certainly the kind of pie who Aerial Telly would be looking to get his teeth into. His preference for the Chinese pie, theChi Pie if you will, is a relatively recent development in his macking career – say, the past 18 months or so. His pie palette is remarkably sophisticated and he has tasted every kind of pie there is. He finds himself pondering why, rather like John Lennon, he is drawn for the first time, at the peak of his creative, sexual and gambling powers, to the Oriental pie. There are many other parallels between Aerial Telly and John Lennon (none of which involve addiction to heroin, beating women or abandoning a son), a theme he will develop at another time. But why the Celestial pie? Why here? Why now? Aerial Telly does not have all the answers. He is merely musing.
"It’s fast, funny and engaging – each neatly woven script introducing conflict early, developing complications seamlessly and resolving them wittily and cleverly in the final act."
Many people are saying jPod is just alright. They are wrong – it’s ace. Don’t listen to these suckers — listen to Aerial Telly. It’s fast, funny and engaging — each neatly woven script introducing conflict early, developing complications seamlessly and resolving them wittily and cleverly in the final act. The gore-drenched skateboard set pieces from BoardX are a gas, the various crushes and sexual obsessions of the crew are convincing and cute. The jPod inhabitants are more or less likeable and more or less recognizable as human beings. There’s some nice satire on the lunacy of corporate decision-making, the idiocy of focus groups and the folly of creativity by committee. And with all their problems with their biological families, the podsters know that their real family is the one they work with everyday. Isn’t that a beautiful inspirational idea? Its implausibility alone makes it worth believing in.
The best thing about it: It’s quirky without being nauseating.
The worst thing about it: It has that look of a show that is not going to get past the first season.
The verdict on jPod: Don’t hate the player, or the game.
Marks out of 10: 8
Imagined: 13th February 2008