Ragged Isle is set as a remote island in the far North-Eastern corner of the US.
From the very first episode, you're taken by a real feeling of how remote the island is. A narrative is told from the perspective of a newcomer to the island, Vickie Burke (Meghan Benton), who arrives at this desolate location to stay with her brother, Eric (Michael Dix Thomas), a current resident on the island.
From the image-rich title sequence to the well-selected, haunting, soundtrack, the scene is set for a thrilling tale and the viewer is not disappointed. A series of mysterious deaths (presumed murders), secret meetings by the island's older residents and many unexplained by-laws surrounding the north end of the island keep you guessing.
Strength to Strength
Right from the beginning, I was struck by the depth to each character in the story. Barry and Karen Dodd (Writers, Producers and husband and wife) and Greg Tulonen (Head Writer) have expertly painted the small island community down to its core, and it's the distinctive personality of each character that really makes this thriller stand out from the crowd. Further to that, many of the island-dwellers seem to have a personal agenda that strengthens the viewer's impression and adds to the mystery. I look forward to getting to the bottom of some of these hidden agendas in future episodes.
The well-developed characters aren't let down in the slightest by the engaging plot - I mentioned some of the aspects of the story in the introduction, and I won't give too much more away. But I urge you to see for yourself. At around 10 minutes each, the episodes are slightly longer than the average for webseries, but the story is definitely compelling enough to keep you interested and intrigued.
Finally, I believe I've left the best until last when I say I was blown away by the cinematography in this production. You could argue that, with a remote setting like Ragged Isle, there's always going to be a nice wide-angle shot of a shoreline and a good sunset, but I have been really impressed throughout series 1 by the great use of the camera. With only 10 minutes to play with each episode, it's imperative that each shot contains all the information required. This has been achieved with exceptional results; the story might be haunting and the setting might be desolate, but a masterpiece has been brought to life in Ragged Isle.
In addition to the technicalities, the characters and the filming, the cast themselves have been well-selected for their roles. From the brutish Todd Manter, who plays his role well as Harrison Shaw, the strong-willed landowner, to the highly animated April Joy Purinton, who plays Rachel Moody, manager of the local bar and singer in the talent contest (episode 9).
I think my favourite character (am I allowed a favourite? Yes! It's my blog, I'm giving myself permission...) has to be Sheriff Rick Dalton (played by Rick Dalton), not least because of his appearance in "Episode 5.5", which is one of the Extras on the Ragged Isle website, but which I've also included as an episode on my YouTube playlist. It's great that a series like Ragged Isle, shrouded in much mystery and with a story filled with suspense and intrigue, don't take themselves too seriously between episodes.
"I can... without a scope and just open sights... I can put a bullet in your head at five hundred yards. In your head - not your chest, or your leg..."
Sheriff Rick Dalton to Deputy Dan, Episode 5.5
The T-Shirt giveaways throughout the series reinforce this undertone of humour and light-heartedness, with in-character appearances from the Sheriff and his fresh-faced counterpart, Deputy Dan Therrian (Erik Moody). These, coupled with the island community event in episode 9 (without giving too much away), say to the viewer "Yes, this is a disturbing story about some dirty deeds done in a remote island off the coast of Maine, but at the end of the day, we're all here to have some fun!" I love it.
|Left: Deputy Dan, Right: Sheriff Dalton|
As this is the first review I've done for a webseries, I won't provide any numeric qualifiers, not least because I have no baseline to measure against. Perhaps Ragged Isle will become that baseline - it's certainly a high bar to start with!
I will say that, over the course of the last three months, I've seen a lot of new and old webseries and Ragged Isle ranks pretty high on my personal list of favourites.
If you haven't seen Ragged Isle yet, you can find it at raggedisle.com, at the really artfully-designed Ragged Isle website, along with full details on the characters, and much more. You can also see the entire series, plus the additional videos (available under "Extras" on the website), on the Ragged Isle YouTube channel (youtube.com/raggedisle).
I ought to say that the Ragged Isle website is one of the best I've seen in webseries. It's clean, straight to the point and well-laid out for ease of finding the latest episode. Coming from a web design background, these things throw a lot of weight with me, but also make a great first impression for your visitors.
At the time of writing, 9 out of 10 episodes for season 1 have been released. The first season finale is due out on the 11th May.
Ragged Isle Website - www.raggedisle.com
Ragged Isle YouTube channel - www.youtube.com/raggedisle
Ragged Isle Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/raggedisle
Ragged Isle on Twitter - www.twitter.com/raggedisle
My YouTube channel, which features webseries playlists - www.youtube.com/lordscree
~ A review by a webseries fan, viewer and unqualified internet pipsqueak.