11 Comments

Summary:

NBC launched its new, original online series Coastal Dreams today and the result, while a blonde-highlighted mess, offers lessons to budding production companies out there on how not to do an original web series. Dreams follows the story of Zoe, a recent college grad (and budding […]

NBC launched its new, original online series Coastal Dreams today and the result, while a blonde-highlighted mess, offers lessons to budding production companies out there on how not to do an original web series.

Dreams follows the story of Zoe, a recent college grad (and budding jewelry designer) who heads out to “Pacific Shores” California with her BFF Stacey for some hot sun, hotter guys, and to escape her ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker (that’s right, stalker), Sebastian. While in California, the duo stays with Zoe’s cousin, April, who is an “ex-model and global business woman” and of course has a fabulous home where the girls all stay.

All of this is pretty meaningless because like so many California beach shows before it (Baywatch, Pacific Blue, etc.), Dreams is more about vacuous, good-looking people (and their abs) than it is about plot. Or characters. Or dialogue. The problems start right at the beginning.
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NBC (GE) launched with just one three-minute episode. Given that they had to set up the story, introduce characters and settings and get you hooked, that’s asking a lot of those three minutes. Unfortunately, they chose to do most of this with a voice-over narration. In more skilled hands, the show would have just dropped us off in a world (no matter how cheesy) and let us figure it out as we went along. At least that way there’s a little mystery (see: LonelyGirl).

The show just feels like TV-lite, which is not what an original web production should be. In trying to too hard look big-budget, it ends up looking cheap. Shows like Prom Queen, one the other hand, feel right on the web because they’re shot it in the style of the web, with loose camera work and tight shots. Prom Queen mimics the intimacy of actually being on the web.

Finally, Coastal Dreams is not over-the-top enough. It’s fantastic that one of the main characters is some vague ex-model global business woman, and that the stalker’s dad was a Texas senator, but that vibe should be amped up across all the characters. If you want your show to stand out among all the other video available one click away, being bland and middle-of-the road is a surefire way to reach no one.

And reaching no one is what NBC can expect, since they don’t allow embeds for the video players.

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  1. I disagree. Clearly you don’t watch daytime TV. I’m the demo they’re going after and I was hooked. The web site was pleasing to the eye and informative. Yeah, it’s fluff and that’s the point. I work for an internet company and during my lunch break, this is just the kind of entertainment I’m looking for. Lonely girl was a mess and Prom Queen was okay, but give it a few eps and I bet there’s going to be more of a mystery than the stalker ex. For reference log onto YouTube and check out the trailer.

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  2. Please can you open this website for me

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  3. Dude, give ‘em a break. Like Marta I work in the internet/film biz and making this stuff ain’t easy. You cite Lonely Girl and Prom Queen as great examples. Did you see Prom Queen’s first episode. The girl was lying in the yard with her video camera. Made me want to come back. Not really. At least Coastal set things up. I do agree they should’ve preemed with two eps to give us more of the mystery, and maybe they should have put together a “this season on Coastal Dreams reel” but if you saw the trailer you’ll realize there’s a lot more to come with the mystery than you realize…

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  4. Coastal Dreams should (quite literally) be washed over by a tsunami… then it just might become interesting. Then pick up some sponsors like Quiksilver instead of StayFree and now you’re onto something.

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  5. Marta,

    I realize that I might not be their target demo, but it seemed like the show couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted to be a soap opera or Saved by the Bell.

    And Ricardo,

    If the company launching it was a small startup or indie production company, I would cut them some slack. But NBC has been in the production business for years and has deep pockets, I think its fair for me to have higher expectations of them.

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  6. Clearly, there is becoming a “Bay Area” Production style for internet television that essentially glamorizes poor production quality in favor of less than competent writing, direction and production — and, Mr. Albrecht is an evangelizer of such “Bay Area” who-cares-if-it’s-in-focus style.

    That doesn’t mean that productions which undertake story structure and even know how to light a Set are bad — it just means that Mr. Albrecht prefers the garage band approach. Garage bands are cool, but, the masses don’t get up and dance to it. Let’s see how Middle America (and other parts of the Universe outside of SF) react.

    Oh, I have nothing to do with COASTAL DREAMS. It looks light and silly, but, infinitely more watchable than the bogusness and pretentiousness of the “faves” of newteevee. I highly recommend one cross-country bus ticket for Mr. Albrecht, 7-days on the road can bring perspective and an appreciation for why hope and dream stories work.

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  7. hmm? has a point. I don’t know anything about tv production. All I know is that I enjoyed what I saw and I will watch again. There’s a good story and Coastal Dreams is right up my alley. Way to go NBC.com.

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  8. interesting thread. yes, there is a hip/bogus attitude that seems to permeate some discussions about what makes good internet television. the wonder and beauty of internet television is that there can be a wide range of styles and niche content, right? room for everyone, even the big guys and sappy soaps. the folks over at tilzy provide more balanced critique and cover a much wider range of content, maybe newteevee should broaden its horizons a notch?

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  9. The only thing I don’t like about the show is that the episodes are only 2 minutes long.They should be an hour long show.I’m very disapointed.

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  10. I love this show !!

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