The 20 episodes of five minutes are awkward, if easily consumable bite-sized helpings of a story that strives for long-form ambiguity and seriousness. Hanks voices one of the main characters, Cleveland Carr, a "grid operative" in a future where some apparently climate-based event has left a dangerous, bleak, electricity-starved world. Carr's mission has something to do with stopping black market schemes for a new transmitter device.
"It's best to ask no questions and be told no lies, here in the Electric City," Hanks narrates, using an oft-repeated mantra in a city fashioned out of numerous science-fiction conventions.
"Electric City" does conjure an enjoyable atmosphere (the ominous score by Leo Z and Ali Noori helps), one that the creators have attempted to make immersive with various interactive components.
But the Internet is not good at "immersive." Even if a show is compelling, countless options are a click away — a distracted audience is inevitable if they're watching on computers and mobile phones.
This is one of the biggest problems for original digital series. Well, that and making any money. It should be noted that these three experimenters — Hanks, Seinfeld and King — have done alright for themselves. These projects could all be classified in the vanity variety — none of them are expecting a big paycheck here.
But even if the dollars aren't there yet and the content isn't always superior, it's surely a milestone when one of America's most favorite movie stars, one of its most beloved comedians and one of its signature news anchors are all opting for the Web.
The platform is there. The machinery to launch, promote and distribute these series is clearly in place now.
Another Hollywood player will also soon try his hand on the Web: Bryan Singer, the director of "The Usual Suspects" and much of the "X-Men" franchise, will on Aug. 8 launch his series, "H+," another dystopic drama where Internet microchips embedded in humans go haywire.
The future — one kind or another — is online.