December 7, 2009By Mala Bhattacharjee Posted: Dec 7, 2009
I watched VENICE, GOTHAM and WED-LOCKED this weekend, and while it's great to see actors branching out with indie projects, I'm not ready to throw a ticker-tape parade and cry, "Hooray, soaps are saved!" just yet.
First things first, despite the fact that I practically live on the Internet, I'm a traditionalist. I prefer to hold a book in my hands rather than reading it on an Amazon Kindle, and I only watch TV shows on my computer out of necessity, not enjoyment. So even if these Web shows wowed me to the very depths, my instinct would still be, "Man, I wish I could watch them on television." To me, that should still be the daytime industry's goal: to keep us viable on TV. I think the day that we look to the Internet as our solution and savior is the day we lose a huge battle. Yes, it's the future of media, but until there's technology in every single household for Internet-based shows to be broadcast on your 35-inch Toshiba, I'm going to be cautious.
And I was cautious going into all three of these Web series. Let's face it, the hype for GOTHAM and VENICE has been huge. And maybe that's why, ironically, it was Lawrence Saint-Victor (ex-Remy, GL) and Karla Mosley's (ex-Christina, GL) WED-LOCKED that I actually came away liking the most. There were no fancy credit sequences, no jump-cuts and montages and snazzy edits. It was just watching two people — the fairly juvenile Robbie and his control freak wife Denise — interact within the confines of a fledgling marriage. Saint-Victor and Mosley are wonderful together, and their characters bear little resemblance to Remy and Christina.
That's in direct opposition to VENICE, which kicked off riding the coattails of GL's Olivia and Natalia. In its favor, I will say that the production values were great, the visuals absolutely stunning, and VENICE definitely has its technical stuff together. But pretty images (and an even prettier cast) aside, it seems like the whole premise is just to give Otalia fans a story that includes Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia making out like they weren't able to on GL. In other words, it's Otalia fan fiction with the names changed. Except, folks, here's the thing: fan fiction is free. To watch more than the six-minute pilot episode of VENICE, people must subscribe and pay $9.99 for a season pass. Yeah, I'm not doing that. I wasn't intrigued enough by what I saw to plunk down 10 bucks for more of it. In six minutes, we had at least 1-2 minutes of credits and establishing shots. Then, it was Gina and Ani kissing and cuddling in bed, Gina pulling a QUEER AS FOLK's Brian Kinney and going, "So sorry baby, not into commitment, can we just have sex in the shower instead?" and a scene with Galen Gering's Owen that had no story value, since you'd only know he was Gina's brother if you'd read a character description.
The 3-minute GOTHAM teaser suffered from similar issues. It wasted entirely too much time on a senseless establishing montage, had terrible sound quality and jumped around like a music video. It told the viewers evenless about its characters than VENICE did. I had no idea who Michael Park, Martha Byrne and Anne Sayre were playing (again, outside of reading their character descriptions beforehand) and the voicemails left on Park's character's phone were lost on me. I didn't recognize any of those dulcet tones! I just saw rich people doing rich things and then Michael and Martha stared at each other in a Very Meaningful Way.
I sound like a total Debby Downer, right? I know. I didn't want to. I wanted to like these shows, I wanted to be supportive. And I'll probably tune in to future episodes of GOTHAM just to see if it finds its footing. But based on what I've seen so far, I wouldn't quite herald Web soaps as the successor to televised drama. They need to work out some more kinks first. And VENICE needs to not charge for the rest of its episodes. Having to pay to watch lesbians involved in drama is why I quit watching Showtime's THE L WORD!