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.
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.