Survival of the Unfittest
"Survival of the Unfittest" is the opening episode of the first series of the parody political thriller comedy-drama web series The United Office. The episode was produced by executive producer Lord Jack, and producers Emperor Terry and Lord Matthew, all three of which also star in the episode. "Survival of the Unfittest" was uploaded on YouTube by Dean Network on 31 August 2020.
In the episode, Jack, the Coal and Transportation Minister of Essexia (Lord Jack), is the designated survivor during a Parliamentary session at Hawarden. However, when a terrorist attack leads to the deaths of the cabinet, it is up to Jack as the new First Minister to find out how it happened and who was behind it.
The cast opted to improvise the entire episode rather than script it as it improved the comedy and cinematography, and kept production morale high and creative freedom unlimited. Principal photography was done in 4 hours, on 29 August. Post-production took two days, and finished on 31 August, the same day as the episode's release. The episode received nearly universal acclaim from audiences and critics alike, and many regarded it as one of the greatest micronational television episodes ever produced, calling it Dean Network's best work so far. It was also Dean Network's most successful premier, garnering 129 views within its first 24 hours.
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Jack, the Coal and Transportation Minister of Essexia (Lord Jack) and a Civil Servant (Emperor Terry) are watching the Parliamentary session at Hawarden via a television broadcast, which since Jack is the designated survivor he may not attend. The feed abruptly disappears, and Jack looks out the window to find Parliament blowing up. Security detail (Crown Minister Summers) arrives at their house, and reveals to Jack that the explosion at Parliament killed every MP, and Jack will be the new First Minister. They head to James' (James) house to explain to him that he is the new Emperor of Essexia, where they proceed to burst into his room and inform him that he is the new Emperor. Jack is then sworn in as the new First Minister by swearing on Tony Blair, and follows by giving a live speech on the situation. The first cabinet meeting under First Minister Jack takes place, and Foreign Minister Matthew (Matthew) begins speculating on what the cause of the explosion was. Jack interrupts Matthew and questions how he survived the explosion. Matthew than pulls out a gun and attempts to take Emperor James hostage, however while he tries to escape through the door the security detail arrive, and a gun fight ensues. Matthew shoots one of the security detail (Adam) before surrendering; he later died from his inquiries. Matthew is now being interrogated by the security detail, and Matthew explains he blew up Parliament because
The show is an entirely improvised parody of ABC's Designated Survivor. According to producer Emperor Terry; they "arrived at Jacks and he said 'want to film a political drama', and we said 'fuck it sure.'" The episode was fully improvised and unscripted. The cast opted to improvise the entire episode rather than script it as it improved the comedy and cinematography, and kept production morale high and creative freedom unlimited.
Filming and post-production
Filming took place in Les Paddocks on 29 August 2020, and took approximately four hours, and was filmed using an iPhone XS Max. The episode was filmed in 1080p resolution at 60 fps, the reason for the lower resolution being in order to speed up the rendering time. According to producer Matthew, it was originally meant to be edited with Premier Pro, however since it took too long to convert all the videos, they has to settle for iMovie instead, which although it was easier and quicker, meant they could not use all the special effects they had originally intended for. Editing was finished on 31 August, the same day as the episode's release. The episode has a runtime of 10:18.
The song used in the interrogation scene is "Chinatown" by Nicholas Payton, while Toploader's cover of "Dancing in the Moonlight" was used during the end credits. However, the cover later had to be dropped due to a copyright claim. Private Essexian showings of the episode still include the song, whilst on YouTube it is replaced with a royalty free song.
Release and reception
Release and ratings
The episode was uploaded on to Dean Network's official YouTube channel on 31 August 2020. The film garnered 129 views within its first 24 hours, more than the view count on the first episode of EssexiaTalk within its first four months of upload, 119. It also made The United Office the most successful Dean Network premier so far. It reached 150 views on 3 September, and currently sits at 184.
The AFRB, an organisation responsible for micronational video work (film, television, commercials, etc.) age classifications, rated the episode "15PG".
The episode received nearly universal acclaim from audiences and critics alike, and many regarded it as one of the greatest micronational television episodes ever produced.
Zarel Smith from the film criticism site ZSR Film Reviews called the episode "an accidental comedic masterpiece", and praised its humour, acting, action and cinematography, saying it fit the mood perfectly. He also stated; "I would even go as far as to mention The United Office as one of the best satirical comedies I have seen in recent years, let alone in the micronational community."
The episode was also highly praised by audiences, with some remarks from the Essexian Post saying "That was fucking amazing", Newton von Uberquie, "That was so funny!", Vincent I of Arthuria, "It is art.", Patrick I of Paravia, and "This deserves at least 10 BAFTAs", Becky B.
- ep1 - Survival of the Unfittest at IMDb.
- Dean Network's YouTube channel. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
- Editor, Chief (1 Sep 2020) "The United Office: what do the critics say?". The Essexian Post. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
- Trivia. IMDb. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
- Technical Specifications. IMDb. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
- Dean Network (31 Aug 2020) The United Office - S1:E1 - Survival of the Unfittest on YouTube. Retrieved 21 September 2020.