Sorry, I'm a bitch but I don't care for most of these. The reason I don't take these shows seriously is because they obviously don't take the work seriously. "It's just a web soap." They all seem to be built on lack of characterization versus plot, or both at once, with whiplash pacing straight out of Ellen Wheeler's GL, and shitty unsigned-band folk rock music. Venice
expects people to pay $10 a pop for Otalia fan service and no real plot - whatever. Gotham
actually bothers to establish a character in the premiere (Michael Park's character, on the phone), but follows it up with terrible sound, production, and storytelling in the second episode.
Look at Gotham.
Why would Margaret Reed's character (whoever she is - nice job on the introductions) kiss Michael Park full-on in the middle of a crowded room where they are at the center of the action and Maeve Kinkead (whoever she's supposed to be) is giving a speech for charity? These shows approach their limited timeframe and budget as though they can still write for a 60-minute network soap opera, so they speed through 60 minutes worth of plot, plot, plot beats that would only work organically on an hour show and stage things that you can only effectively stage with real money - for example, on a regular soap, you'd set things up, show the charity function, then Park and Reed would eventually kiss in the shadows in the background, glimpsed by Martha Byrne onstage, and soon thereafter Martha would try to leave. Fine. But on an episode that is only 6 minutes long
with limited space, what happens when you try to apply network quality is you've only got about 4 minutes of content, you've got that terrible, cheesy opening with the weird angles and lame voice-over, Park enters the party, the party starts, Maeve begins her speech, Park and Reed kiss for no reason in front of everyone (probably because there was nowhere else to put them), no one acknowledges it, Martha says a few words and immediately leaves. What? How does this remotely resemble real life activity, or even any credible daytime soap? Where are the character beats versus plot? I was embarrassed for Byrne, Park, and Lisa Brown, who supposedly wrote this. Many of these concepts are fine - it's how they are done that is terrible. It's like they all belong to an Ellen Wheeler cult and think no one will notice they are shoving too much plot into a tiny episode if we are bombarded with music, camerawork and bad slow-motion. How can I begin to care about Richard and Catherine (are those their names?) if there is no characterization? Slow-motion is not characterization. Music is not characterization.
episode 2 made Venice
look good but I didn't care for that either. Unlike Gotham,
it managed to do a somewhat in-depth two-character scene with the leads, which is extremely important, but we don't know who they are or what they want, and no, I don't care that they played Otalia. The focus seemed to be "OMFG they're finally kissing squee." Who cares? GL's over. These characters are not Otalia, yet we're expected to just shake it off and pretend they are since this show is totally marketed to that fanbase, and just take their characterization from GL and run with it here, in lieu of making the writers actually write material for new people. Maybe I'm being unfair to it and it will branch out in new directions soon. It's still better than Gotham.
For me, it's not enough that these things are a labor of love, everyone's working so hard for so little - well, okay, but then you have to put on a good show. It's not an excuse. I've heard Byrne and Brown talk and talk and talk about how daytime has lost its way and how they understand the fundamentals of soap opera, and then they put out Gotham.
What is that? If this is "the future of the genre" it had better start improving damn fast. The first episode of Claire Labine's Ryan's Hope
was only about 13-15 minutes long without commercials, and that had both character and plot, and that was in 1975. I personally think all websoap episodes should be at least 15 minutes, but if you're going to cut that in half or thirds, then you'd better have something really valid to deliver, in terms of both characters and story, not half a loaf or a mishmash. I say start with simple, one or two-character scenes, or introduce a family in one pop as a group, and do that for a while in 3-6 minute shows, just introducing people to us, slowly, without PLOT PLOT PLOT or cheating with crappy music or longing looks or "well, this person played X on Soap Y, so just pretend it's them." Then you can build stories. Style will not carry the day. You'd think these people's experiences on a variety of cancelled soap operas would've proved that. No one's going to watch a cut-rate version of The Hills
on YouTube with bad sound when they can get a better quality Hills
I'm sorry if I sound cruel about these shows, but it's because I genuinely want the genre to succeed and thrive that I'm critical. I just feel the creators' aspirations and talk does not in any way match their product.
Edited by jase-bot, Dec 12, 2009 @ 1:40 PM.