Dating in the Middle Ages: A Lesson in Love, Life, & Television

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of great TV shows.  The state of television and television networks has become so unsettling.  Due to the increased competition, networks rarely give a new show a chance to gain an audience.  If you don’t have banner ratings right out of the gate, you are most certainly in trouble. 

This has left the entertainment industry to take chances elsewhere and expand their opportunities.  Web series seem to be the new platform for creative minds to play and entertain.  With the growing popularity of the Internet and the success of Netflix when it comes to movies, it sounds like the natural progression for all forms of visual entertainment. 

You can only imagine how thrilled I was to be introduced to Devin Mills, the creator and writer of a genius web series called  Dating in the Middle Ages. I actually had the good fortune of making her acquaintance through an introduction by Jeff Rago to Brian Rodda, who is a consultant in the media industry specializing in web series development and promotion.  As many of you know, Jeff Rago has his own web series called, In Bed With. Its an interview series where the guests arrive in their PJ’s and are interviewed in bed with Mr. Rago and Melissa June Rawley. 

Dating in the Middle ages struck a chord with me immediately. It has elements of Alley McBeal, Glee, Sex and the City,  and Absolutely Fabulous all rolled into one satisfying experience.  The series revolves around Devin’s character, Samantha Collins, a historical romance writer who has just ended a 15 year marriage and has been thrown back into the dating scene.  Her professional life is not much better, she seems to be blocked in her writing but has continuous daydreams about life in the Middle Ages.

There is something for everyone here, from comedy to musical numbers, and lots of satire when it comes to the current state of dating.  There is a scene where Samantha is transformed into a Lady Gaga type performer as she sings an ode to her ideal guy.  Then she is put through a humiliating meeting with a matchmaker who seems more interested in creating a whole new Samantha to “sell” than in finding her the right match. 

I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Devin Mills and Brian Rodda on the phone about the series, the current state of entertainment and television, and the creative process of working on Dating in the Middle ages.  Devin told me that one of her inspirations for the series comes from the reality show, Millionaire Matchmaker but it is also based on her own life. 

I asked her about the benefits of web series as opposed to network TV.  She sited the ability to take more chances as one of the top advantages and pointed out that a show like Seinfeld would have never made it in the current climate.  That show did not find its ground until a few seasons in.  The current state of network television would never allow for that kind of waiting period for popularity and ratings.  She also said that actors are willing to take more chances these days in order to get parts and in most cases are willing to sacrifice big money for the opportunity to work with quality scripts.  One such actor is Mr. John Schneider, most notably from The Dukes of Hazzard.  He has signed on to play Samantha’s love interest Jake Hagerty.  He also recently worked on a series called 10,000 days, which is a Mad Max type web series.

From a business standpoint, both Devin and Brian told me that the world of web series will be taken more seriously once there is an accurate way to tabulate ratings.  If those ratings prove to be significant, it will only be a matter of time before the entertainment world realizes the potential of this medium.  There may be a less traditional way to advertize with these types of series by using product placement for sponsors or by using 15 second adds at the beginning of the episodes.  The changing environment of marketing will play a large part in that as well.  

Brian Rodda is ready to explore the marketing potential by using iTunes to make episodes and music videos from the show available to fans.  They are also using a site called IndieGogo to raise money to offset production costs.  If you are interested, you can go here http://www.indiegogo.com/Dating-In-The-Middle-Ages .  There you can become part of the action by donating and in return receive some swag gifts as a token of appreciation. 

If you go to http://www.datinginthemiddleages.com  you can watch episodes of the show, read about the characters, and read Samantha’s blog.  Devin writes the blog staying true to the character of Samantha so you can keep up with her activities in between episodes.  She also tweets as Samantha at @writerscollins and John Schneider tweets as Jake at @jakehagerty.  Head over to Facebook and like their page too http://www.facebook.com/datinginthemiddleages .  John is going to be back as Samantha’s love interest and he will even show off  his musical talents in future episodes.  We will also be introduced to Samantha’s mother and daughter and those relationships will be explored, plus there will be more dating drama.

I encourage you to check out the series for yourself and find out why it already has a dedicated fan base with fans all over the world.  As Brian said, “Devin represents a new wave of woman in the industry.  Women who include Felicia Day and IJustine to name a few.”  In the past, the entertainment industry has been unforgiving to women over 25 but this series is out to show that experience can more than compensate for youth. 

Another plus to this web series and Devin is that she works with the United Pegasus Foundation to help save mature female horses from slaughter.  Urine from pregnant mares is used to make a drug to help women with menopause.  These mares are kept pregnant constantly until they are too old and then they are slaughtered because they are too old to be adopted.  You can help by going here: www.unitedpegasus.com

Now for the fun part of this post, Devin has agreed to give some gifts away to a few fans as long as you answer a few questions correctly.  After you go to http://www.datinginthemiddleages.com and watch the episodes, answer the following questions:

1. What was the waiter’s name from the French restaurant in Episode 2?

2. Who is Samantha’s ideal man in Episode 3?

3. What is Samantha’s dog’s name in Episode 4?

The first 3 people to answer all four questions correctly will receive a prize.  You can send your answers to: ContestsatTeeco71com@gmail.com

by Tommy Geraci (Teeco71)