For people who don’t mind watching television to see the things that they would normally see on the Internet, Syfy is here to make everyone’s lives a little more Wil Wheaton-y with the premiere of their new series The Wil Wheaton Project. This weekly round-up of sci-fi, horror and fantasy news has been billed as “The Soup for geeks,” and it’s almost impossible to summarize it any better. Just like The Soup, this series’ mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for goofy humor and the jubilance of Wheaton, the former Star Trek: The Next Generation star who has become a monolith for online nerdery in recent years.
The episode begins with the amiable Wheaton cheering, “Nerds, we got a show!” before making a few self-deprecating jokes about himself, via a heartthrob poster from his past, and Syfy, through a mock-up image of a movie called SharkQuake. Hard-hitting journalism this isn’t, and it’s immediately clear that the show isn’t averse to trying anything to get a laugh. Sometimes it works, such as X-Men star Shawn Ashmore calling Frozen’s Elsa a bitch in a spoof of NBC's “The More You Know” promos, but sometimes it doesn’t, as in the fake Game of Thrones Season 5 character list. (The G.o.T./Street Fighter gag later in the show was admittedly pretty good.)
While The Wil Wheaton Project contained more groaners than I would have liked – “Have Hugh Seen Me?” – there are several seemingly made-for-YouTube sequences that were inspired enough to win me over completely. The first involved fellow Internet guru and TV host Chris Hardwick stopping by for the first ever “during show,” The Talking The Wil Wheaton Project, which then led to a superb opening titles spoof of The Walking Dead that presented the zombie horror as a feel-good late-1980s sitcom. I also enjoyed the faux “will they/won’t they show boobs on WGN’s Salem” advert, and the extended Gotham trailer that railed on Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. Because seriously, it's impossible for that to get old.
In fact, the bizarrely unenergetic interview clips of John Malkovich talking about NBC’s Crossbones were enough to get me out of my chair and to a computer to seek the interview out in full, only to find that likeminded people were already sharing it. If that’s not a testament to a series’ strength, then maybe it’s just a sign that I like seeing Malkovich get interrupted by himself mid-thought.
Whichever way it goes, tack on a silly Neil deGrasse Tyson Stoned promo, and I’m definitely amused enough to continue checking this series out for weeks to come. I'd rather see lame Penny Dreadful jokes than awesome Real Housewives jokes on The Soup any day.
Find The Wil Wheaton Project on Syfy, Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.