Operation Rango: Into the Snow with Plot Synopsis

This is the first of three episodes filmed depicting the unlikely story of a bipolar polymath Hell bent on taking over Youtube caught in the snow storm that ate Seattle.  Conceived as the alter-ego to Seattle programmer Matthew Meadows, Rango is also a programmer, dancer and metal guitarist.  But he’s an unmitigated manic with a goal of getting his 15 minutes despite the odds and he’s created an autonomous, distributed self-replicating computer system named Plagus to help him get it.

Rango and Plagus hate each other but they’re stuck together.  Rango needs Plagus to help him achieve his goals of global domination and mastering the Theory of Mojo.  Plagus needs Rango to help bring on the final holocaust through social malfeasance, political manipulation and media control.  By using predictive analysis techniques and cloud computing, Plagus is plotting for the destruction of all mankind and lying about it constantly as he imitates people, synthesizes emails and phone calls, and generally tries to own every situation.  But he needs Rango, an actual person, to do the dirty work on his behalf.

Along for the ride, none other than the empathetic music-loving rabbit Franklin, who has constructed a complex of tunnels running right through the inside of Plagus.  Franklin doesn’t speak and he’s only rarely seen but he’s omnipresent.  His target: Plagus’s yummy power cords, the outdoors where he would inevitably be killed but briefly enjoy the freedom to shit where ever and whenever he wants without reproach.  He loves Rango for his music, apples and corn chips, and the fact that he’s smarter than Rango and can get away in the house.  Plagus is dead set on killing Franklin but he also knows Rango can’t succeed without him because Youtube virtually demands kittens for sacrifice.  The three of them are locked in a mortal conflict of needs.

The principle characters were unveiled in December 2011 with the release of Operation Rango: Check 1,2, but they had strong support from the chorus.  By integrating the narrative into the Facebook/Twitter stream, Rango videos are mashups that include real contributions from artists like Tim Hearn and Kerry Kelley and the crew at Reputation Presents, a crossover between real life and cyberspace across extremely vague lines.  It’s pseudo-reality at its finest (or at its worst, depending on your point of view), distinctly indie and completely unbridled.

For visually compelling musical content the series draws from Matthew’s dual careers as a ballet dancer and metal guitarist and two universally recognized icons of cool: martial arts and guitars.  As an adjunct to every adventure Rango must exercise his new form of movement, guitar kata, and use it in some way to contribute to the adventure.  Starting from the prototypes built in his basement using a projection system and multiple cameras, computers and mirrors. Matthew has given Rango a style of movement that includes Corner Workouts, Axe Handling, Somewhat Spidery, Close Quarters and other distinctly stylized forms of movement used as choreography against a spinning wall of psychedelia (The Mojo Wall) or the background of Seattle itself using the photography of artist Richard Wood to help frame his performance against his heavy metal arsenal that includes The Turk, Gravity, and The Ringmaster.  Indeed, Franklin himself gets his own song and the show craters on the edge of being purely animated sci-fi musical dramedy.

For Into the Snow Matthew relied on a tried and true method of ancient bards to construct the plot line: he took a video camera out into a snowstorm and played with his fiddle while Rome burned.  100% ad hoc improvisation, taken in direct sequence from the camera to the final reel, Into the Snow was filmed the day Seattle took it in the face from 2 inches of snow, shutting down one of the most highly regarded high-tech Meccas in the world with what Rango glibly characterizes as a “Michigan Recess”.  All of the sirens in the background are real, as are the helicopters.  Armed with survival gear that includes a gas mask and an extremely thin survival blanket, as well as some food reported to taste like chicken, Rango sets out into the snow with callous disregard when he learns his friend Tim Hearn may have set into the storm en route to Seattle to jam.

Things get dicey and he gets more than he bargained for.  As he ventures into the snow perspective shifts and somebody is indeed discovered in the snow, but it’s Rango himself.  Saved by the ubiquitous Clone1, who runs the command and control console at the Doghause, Rango is horrified to learn the fate of his bunny and faced with the grim reality that despite his most overly optimistic assessment the survival blankets really weren’t going to be enough.

The story concludes with episodes II and III, where we learn the fate of Tim Hearn and Franklin, respectively.  Without spoiling it, suffice it to say that there were several witnesses to the crime that included the local news flying their helicopters overhead.  It’s a cautionary tale about playing with guitars and computers and going into the snow, with a little something to say about what it’s really like to be bipolar, uniquely talented, and somewhat lonely.


You can view Into the Snow here:

Update 12/21/12:

I’m pleased to announce the release of Into the Snow II.  Find out what happened to Tim Hearn here:

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