The following review contains spoilers for all seven Harry Potter books and the eight films that followed them. There are also minor spoilers for HPplus10, because when you only have a nine-minute episode it’s really hard to write a review without talking about the entire plot.
The Harry Potter phenomenon has spawned countless fan-created works of written fiction, musical awesomeness, and re-cut music videos. It has inspired thousands of people to be more awesome than they might otherwise have been. And that’s good.
But now it’s over. The last film was released in 2011, and if you don’t subscribe to the EWE school of thought, we know what’s happening 19 years later: Harry and Ginny are married with three children, Ron and Hermione with two, Draco with one, and so on. However, lots of good fan-fiction* has changed the outcome of that epilogue.
Harry Potter and the Ten Years Later is the latest entry in that oeuvre, and, so far, it looks promising.
Produced by Furious Molecules — made up of people named Bob, Matt, and Dana — HPplus10 (as it’s hashtagged on the twitters) is the story of Harry Potter, ten years after he vanquished Voldemort. A member of the Aurory, he’s resigned to sitting at his desk and filling out reports… that is, until the Aurory closes and Harry is left out of a job. Now he has to explain it to his wife (Ginny Weasley).
But there’s more — apparently Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley has been missing for a month, and he’s just now finding out about this from Hermione, Ron’s wife. He goes to Hermione’s house to help her through this difficult time, but Hermione has a different idea of how to deal than Harry thought she might.
HPplus10 is, first and foremost, a parody; it’s intended to be funny. And, to a certain extent, it is. There are some good lines (“Accio trousers!”, for starters) and nice visual gags, but it wasn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious. Of course, it’s only the first episode; I imagine that, when I get a chance to watch the entire series in one sitting (or maybe in chunks of three, like a half-hour sitcom), I’ll appreciate the jokes a little more, but for now it was just an introduction. A few parts of the show were a little slow (and when you only have a nine-minute show, even a few extra seconds make a difference), but overall the writing kept me interested.
Production values are very good; it’s clear the actors and crew are using locations in their real lives (including the apartments in which they live), but the decor is set up to look generic enough that they could be owned by magical folk. Plus, I mean, the show is intended to show the drudgery of people in their late twenties; the sets succeed that way. But the real place the show shines so far is in the use of magic — there are only a few magical effects in the first episode, but the (and forgive me if I use the wrong terms here) compositing of the special effects with the live action is quite seamless. I didn’t see any “halo” effects similar to what viewers experienced in the early episodes of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, although it has been quite a while since those shows aired and home-user technology has gotten much, much better very, very quickly.
The principal cast (so far) is led by Matt DeNoto as Harry Potter. DeNoto is the founder of Furious Molecules and a former member of Dynamite Kablammo. Although he doesn’t really look much like either book- or movie-Harry, he carries the role well enough. I’m going to have to see more episodes to really make a judgment. Joining DeNoto in the Golden Trio are Dana DeRuyck (iCarly, as well as on stage in Los Angeles) as Hermione Granger and artist Tucker Matthews as Ron Weasley. We haven’t seen Ron yet, although his scenes in the trailer are pretty funny. I’m also interested in seeing what DeRuyck brings to the Hermione character beyond a little black dress** — in the first episode, Hermione was more of someone for Harry to give his exposition to and to give some back to him. I want to see what else her role entails.
Episode one’s cast is rounded out by performer Aryiel Hartman (Ginny Weasley) and Andrew Graves (Undercovers, General Hospital, and various theater productions) as Andrew, Harry’s boss at the Aurory. Graves and DeNoto really sold one of the best exchanges in the entire episode:
Andrew: Well, as you may have noticed, there hasn’t been much call for Aurors in a long, long time. You took care of… He-Whose-Name-I-Can’t-Quite-Remember.
Andrew: That’s the bloke!
Now more than ever, humanity is forgetting major events that happened only a decade ago, and, I mean, Voldemort pretty much declared a race war on non-pureblooded wizards. We’re still talking about the Holocaust, and that happened 70 years ago; how can people have forgotten about Voldemort?
Anyway, I really liked that bit.
Hartman, as Ginny, overplays the role of the wife-who-wants-to-get-pregnant, but I think it was intended that way. She gives good face (especially in the slowly-chewing-a-carrot scene), and I definitely could buy that Ginny, after ten years together with Harry, would really like to have a child. It’s just this side of too much, but as the show goes on I imagine things are going to change (especially given Harry’s last line in the episode).
Overall, I found this episode to be a good start to Harry Potter and the Ten Years Later. Since it’s intended to be the first of several episodes, and since the episodes are so short, it’s hard to judge it as a complete work of art, but the cast, crew, and writers have done enough to make me want to see more of this world they’re building. And, really, when you’re doing the first episode of a webseries, what more can you ask for?
Accio episode two, please.
Note to Parents: The production company, Furious Molecules, warns viewers that this show is not intended for a younger audience. So far there hasn’t been any explicit nudity, but there is some language and discussion of adult situations. I think older teens can probably handle it, but let’s be safe and say this is for 18 and older only.
* That’s not an oxymoron; there’s a lot of good fanfic out there. There’s even more atrocious fanfic, but if you dig hard enough, you’ll find stuff worth reading.
** Nice dress, though.