An old man stands behind a bar. Half butler, half mad scientist, he sports a three-piece gray suit, an all-knowing smile, and the frayed messy grey hair of an aging genius. He withdraws a deck of cards labeled with simplistic circles and lines, slowly shuffling the deck before placing a handful of cards in front of a patron at the bar going through a turning point in their life. Every time he touches a card, the card’s face is replaced by a glimpse into one of the patron’s many potential futures.
Welcome to the signature scene from Bar Karma, a science fiction themed television show on Current TV. This past Friday, Bar Karma ended its first season. The show features characters from different times and places as they unknowingly enter a bar outside time and space when they have a tough decision to make. The show repeatedly asks questions about fate and free will as the barkeep and his small but attractive staff attempts to help each new character while protecting their renegade consultation shop from a mysterious evil entity. Each episode’s narrative is created in part by an active portion of the Bar Karma audience that proposes and votes for plots.
Co-produced by former Nickelodeon executive Albie Hect and Sims creator and game industry legend Will Wright, the show is experimental TV on the bleeding edge of interactive storytelling. “The mission is to extend to the viewing audience an unprecedented amount of input and participation in the development of the series,” says David Cohn, General Manager for Current TV. “To create the world’s first community-developed series.”