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Summary:

Updated: Oh boy, guys, teen drama! You know what’s awesome? Teen drama! Let’s go to The Lake, guys! We’ll listen to some obscure but totally cool indie rock, and then, hey, we’ll meet Olivia, the new girl in town! She’s at the lake for the summer, […]

Updated: Oh boy, guys, teen drama! You know what’s awesome? Teen drama! Let’s go to The Lake, guys! We’ll listen to some obscure but totally cool indie rock, and then, hey, we’ll meet Olivia, the new girl in town! She’s at the lake for the summer, but she’s not rich like the other kids, and knows it! And she kind of has a Kristin Stewart thing going on, which probably means that vampires find her super-attractive (vampires, pretty boy lifeguards, and Michael Cera wannabes). Kristin — sorry, Olivia — just wants to “be normal” again, which probably means she has some dark secret in her past! But her aunt tells her she can keep it secret! I’m sure it won’t get out later on! OMG, and then we meet Ryan the lifeguard, who’s also got a dark secret, and Alexis and Drew and Madison, whose parents just got married, making them a quasi-Brady Bunch, and then there’s Luke the hunky landscaping guy whose absent sister ALSO has a secret, and they’re all like…

OK, I’m sorry, guys. I really tried to get enthusiastic. But I just can’t. The best thing I can say about The Lake, which premiered yesterday on the WB.com, is also the worst thing I can say about The Lake: It is a perfectly serviceable teen drama, bringing together six extremely attractive teenagers and giving them crushes and rivalries and oh-so-many secrets (only ONE of which is a secret pregnancy, as far as I know). Here — I made you a chart:

lake-chart

Directed by Jason Priestley, who, yeah, knows some stuff about teen dramas, The Lake is perfectly poised to scratch the Gossip Girl itch of its target audience — something advertisers have already taken note of, as Johnson & Johnson just signed a six-figure sponsorship deal with production company Generate.

But there is absolutely nothing that differentiates The Lake from any of its oldteevee kin; even its episode release schedule — four new installments each Monday — adds up to approximately a 40-minute runtime, the same length as an hour-long drama sans commercials. For those slow at math, this means there is no real difference between coming to TheWB.com on Monday to watch four episodes of The Lake and then coming to TheWB.com on Tuesday to watch one episode of One Tree Hill. It’s like they’re not even trying to tailor this for the web. (A press release indicates that the show’s characters will have a presence on all the major social-networking sites, but a day after the show’s premiere, digging through Facebook revealed nothing of the sort.)

The Lake, especially in comparison to other TheWB dramas, is solid fare, well-produced and directed, with only the rare awkward line of dialogue. My frustration simply comes from concerns over the medium’s stagnation, especially when far more innovative fare like Oz Girl does just as good a job at engaging with young tech-savvy adults, while also exploring the interactive possibilities of this medium.

There’s one line from The Lake, spoken by the bitchy blonde girl, that struck me  — “summer is how life should be.” It’s a sentiment I can’t endorse. I mean, summer’s a nice time to take a break. But the other seasons are a lot more interesting.

Update:
Since this article was posted, TheWB.com launched character pages on the site incorporating IM and Flickr components. (Mysterious New Girl Who Looks Like Kristin Stewart’s favorite movie?Twilight.)

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  1. the challenge facing producers of online shows is that they need to understand the degree to which the medium influences the message (ala Marshall McLuhan). Its not the content (teen drama/angst) but the social network which is the difference.

    the OzGirl which appeared “on film” was only a small part of the entire OzGirl experience, there were many levels on which fans could interact and lots of different avenues through which the consumer could choose their preferred method of engagement.

    Television and film dictate to the consumer how and where the engagement will take place. Webseries is fundamentally different where content (which still needs to be of a high quality) is secondary to the medium by which it is delivered.

    Webseries is not just a different way to watch TV …. this is a revolution in how the global village creates a different way to tell stories and engage with the fan. In fact it has a lot more in common with the wandering minstrel of olde or the punch and judy show where the audience were part of the story and their reactions and interaction changed the story and how it is experienced. This is what OzGirl delivered … embryonic certainly, but it is the “first brick in the wall” of an amazing new social fabric.

  2. Ha. I totally love the chart! A+++

    I agree about the show not being unique and the writing suffering from webisode banality, but what I DO like is the professional-level talent (director, production quality) being brought to the uber-tiny screen (I watched it on my iPhone).

    A lot of us have been complaining about how networks have been treating webseries like episodics where they roll out a 4-min slice once a week…and many of us disagree with that…we think it’s Old School. Like you need to be sending me a weekly e-mail reminder if you’re only going to sneeze out tiny bits like that.

    So I’m really glad that they’re rolling out four at a time over the next few weeks. I hadn’t put it together that it equals a commercial-less hour-long by doing it that way. Oh well.

    I’ll keep checking this one out because I feel like it’s breaking new ground for a network’s understanding of the digital world.

    Also, I don’t know why I can only get the first episode on iTunes right now…I’d like to check them all out back-to-back. I guess I’m supposed to go to TheWB.com to give them the views, eh?

    1. Liz Shannon Miller Todd Thursday, August 13, 2009

      Appreciate the comments, Darryl and Todd! And I agree that being able to watch all the eps at once is helpful no matter what portal you use. Is it available for free on iTunes?

      1. I downloaded the first episode for free on iTunes when it was the only one listed there. Now they’re all up, it looks like, for purchase.

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