Bar Karma: Crowdsourced television

July 17, 2011

Bar Karma has to be one of the most innovative television shows to be created in a long time. CurrentTV decided to create a show that would have a lot of fan input.

I’ve seen EVERY episode of Bar Karma. The show started mysterious enough with a guy waking up with a dead girl in his bed. He tries to leave the crime scene and ends up in a bar. The Bar is stuck in space and time and is inhabited by a wise man and his young female Australian assistant companion.

Doug has incredibly good luck but all of a sudden it has run out. Until he can figure out who set him up, Doug helps Dayna and wise man James with customers who wander into the bar.

If a person wanders into the bar, they are at a critical crossroad in their life and needs to be guided to the right path. Here is a list of episode summaries:

  • A comic book writer creates a hellish future. He has to alter his story to prevent the apocalypse.
  • A woman wants a hippie operation that is supposed to open her third eye. She is talked out of doing it so that she can take care of her son.
  • A Brazillian drug lord has a plastic surgery and a sex change to escape punishment by the law.
  • A high school football player falls in love with the wrong girl and needs to fall in love with the right girl so that his life won’t fall apart.
  • There was a population explosion that resulted in a society taking Draconian measures for birth control. One woman has to choose between letting the Draconian laws suffocate civilization or stand up and fight.
  • James’ brother Caleb walks into the bar starting trouble. We find out that they are a like yin and yang. Caleb seems to want revenge and cause a lot of grief for James, Dana and Doug. A guy walks into the Bar after holding up a convenience store. He has a hard time believing the Bar could help him.
  • One of my favorite episodes is the hacker episode where Doug discovers more about what has happened to him. The hacker suggests that the Bar is a program and that they are all in something similar to The Matrix movies. Doug learns that he wasn’t set up and that the lady in his bed did not die.
  • A woman in New Mexico suffers from multiple personality disorder. She needs to get help or continue on her path and suffer. Ultimately marrying a Black cowboy is the answer to all her problems.
  • A troubled kid needs his father to reinstate the music program at school. We find out that Dana’s has bad luck and it is potent as Doug’s good luck. She came to the Bar because it insulated her from all of her bad luck.
  • A meta episode where a fan of the Bar Karma community enters the Bar as a fan and explain to the Bar Karma crew that they are characters on TV.
  • In the final episode Doug is put back into his life and is at his business. He learns eerie news from Dana and their childhood and even more shocking news about James. It borders Total Recall.

An issue with Bar Karma is that all of the episodes were bottle episodes that were wrapped up all nice and neat at the end. Bottle episodes are fine for sitcoms and cop shows but not for something that you want to create buzz and loyalty for. This show started with a potent mysterious element that was pretty much dropped the next episode for a one-off episode. Bar Karma should have woven the story with Doug deeper and ended each episode with an outrageous cliffhanger. Another problem with Bar Karma is that you couldn’t watch the episode online. I can’t tell you where CurrentTV is on my cable line up. The website and Hulu only had clips and previews. This was a huge mistake.

The first season is done and the Bar Karma website has been put into read-only mode. There were a lot of good-bye’s and thank you’s on the website which makes it seem like Bar Karma is at its end. It’s a shame because the idea is still a great one. Even with all of my nitpicks I enjoyed the show and I think they should try again.

Bar Karma airs on CurrentTV and fate is currently unknown.


P.S. If this show does return, would someone please get a stylist for Dana because her wardrobe was horrific.



Related: Why Bar Karma will fail

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