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I Am Tim Review

on Mon, 10/22/2012 - 00:00

High school student Buffy Summers was “chosen” to take up the mantel of vampire slayer, a tradition that dates back millenniums. Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt, meanwhile, is a descendent of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, whose fairy tales are true stories of mythological creatures. Then there’s Tim Helsing, whose own lineage can be traced to legendary monster hunter Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula fame. Just as the former WB/UPN drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer and NBC series Grimm trace the efforts of Summers and Burkhardt as they fight the supernatural, the comedy web series I Am Tim follows Tim Helsing in his own quest to overcome the demons of the real world.

“Goblins, bogeymen, vampires,” the web series proclaims. “These are the creatures that live in storybooks. They hide in the dark recesses of our imaginations and to these people—these blissfully unaware human beings—they are the stuff of fantasies and nightmares. But what if I was to tell you it was all real?” Much like Buffy Summers and Nick Burkhardt, Tim Helsing (Jamie McKellar) patrols the streets of York, England, in an effort to keep them safe for the unsuspecting populace. I Am Tim differs from its predecessors, however, by not only being a comedy but a mockumentary as well, with filmmaker Richard Timmons (Own Loan) adding commentary to the proceedings throughout each installment.

Tim Helsing is joined on his adventures by sidekick Poncho De La Cruz (Tom Cockram) and girlfriend Anna Mondragon (Jennifer Jordan). I Am Tim also features episodes that focus on Helsing’s family, daytime job and a rivalry with fellow monster hunter Hannibal King (Richard Massara), a sexually-smoldering vampire with a soul. The diverse cast gives I Am Tim a solid roster of supporting characters to keep the narrative flowing while also offering the opportunity to explore Helsing’s personal life in addition to his professional duties as a descendent of Abraham Van Helsing. Merely “spoofing” the classic supernatural slayers of the past could quickly turn tedious in another format, but the mockumentary style of I Am Tim adds to the originality of the web series and keeps the short installments fresh and entertaining.

“How did I get involved in all of this?” Tim Helsing rhetorically asks during the second episode of I Am Tim. “Well, one day this old guy sits down next to me on a bus, looks me in the eye and says, ‘Destiny is calling, my son.’ The old guy just takes the rest of my sandwich and says it is now my responsibility of the bloodline to ensure that the world is kept in order. Otherwise the apocalypse is going to happen and, well, stuff. What are you supposed to do when destiny knocks on your door? You can’t just close your curtains and tell it to fuck off, can you?” Other characters are also given the opportunity to explains their roles and offer thoughts on the proceedings. “The worst thing about having a monster hunter as a boyfriend is the laundry,” Anna Mondragon explains. “The stuff that he comes back with on his clothes is absolutely unimaginable. No one ever warns you about this kind of stuff. Unfortunately there’s not a welcome packet that comes with becoming a monster hunter.”

That is not to suggest that I Am Tim is simply a series of “talking heads,” as the mockumentary steadily follows Tim Helsing as he fights off goblins, an empusa and grue, and even vampires, all with added comic twists. The first installment, for instance, opens with Helsing chasing a goblin through a courtyard. The goblin climbs over a wall, despite the fact that the entrance to the courtyard is open. A nearly exhausted Helsing then finds a bicycle on the side of the road and continues the chase on wheels, only to have the goblin steal the bike when the monster hunter catches up with it.

Other episodes, meanwhile, contain more violent creatures and graphic deaths—including ripped-off limbs and eviscerations—with blood spurting from the remains like some B-movie horror flick. I Am Tim likewise features a running gag where the number of humans killed during the narrative are tallied as they happen, with most of the victims being interns of the film crew who wear literal “red shirts” to foretell their inevitable demise. The web series also contains ongoing storylines that complement the more standalone installments. Poncho De La Cruz, for instance, is a werewolf, even though the sidekick himself is not aware of his plight, while vampire Hannibal King makes numerous appearances that chronicle his decent into the dark side and inevitable showdown with Tim Helsing.

The most amusing encounter with the supernatural, however, is merely related to the audience by fictitious director Richard Timmons as opposed to witnessed. “Last night, Tim Helsing and his loyal sidekick Poncho De La Cruz killed a dragon,” he begins. “An actual dragon! It was amazing! It was like something out of a Hollywood movie. And I’m pretty sure you want to see it but you can’t, because before the bloody thing died, it decided it would melt a late night cabana stand, our equipment van and all of our tapes.” Timmons’ enthusiasm then subsides as he matter-of-factly adds, “Oh yeah, and our production staff all died and our thoughts are with their families.”

Tim Helsing himself may not be of the same pedigree as Buffy Summers or Nick Burkhardt, but he has taken the mantel of destiny despite his inherent ineptitude. I Am Tim, meanwhile, is a humorous and entertaining companion to the likes of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Grimm. The web series may have its tongue firmly planted within its cheek, but fans of the supernatural will still find it an enjoyable offering nonetheless.

Anthony Letizia (October 22, 2012)

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