In a surprising move, Michael O'Leary's new web series, Steamboat, was released on YouTube this morning. I wish there had been more fanfare surrounding the debut, but I have a feeling this show is going to succeed on word-of-mouth buzz alone. Steamboat is the latest in a string of web series created by soap vets, and its debut episode was easily the most solid first episode a web soap has seen since Karen Harris' Life in General (which unfortunately never saw a second episode). With hilarious writing, great acting and solid directing, Steamboat has made an excellent first impression that has left me excited for the second episode!
Following "Most Loved Soap, Steamboat," a desperate, last-place soap in a documentary (or is it mockumentary?) format, the first episode of Steamboat brilliantly lampooned product placement, line memorization and backstage cynicism, introduced a great cast, and ended with an excellent punch-line that neither actor involved will soon live down - nor will they want to!
Congratulations to Michael O'Leary and his cast and crew on a triumphant first episode. We can't wait to see what's in store for Episode 2!
If you listen to our weekly podcast, you know that Lauren and I can't get enough of the web soap craze currently going on. I have wanted to formally review one, but hesitated because these small nuggets of soap are really works-in-progress and often leave a lot to be desired... at first. Now that Gotham: The Series just released their 7th episode, I think it's fair to review the show and see what works and what doesn't.
Gotham: The Series was created by Martha Byrne, known for her role as Lily Snyder on As the World Turns. Byrne, who left the role of Lily in a cloud of controversy, writes and stars in the series, which focuses on the burgeoning rekindled romance of Catherine Prescott (Byrne) and Richard Manning, played by As the World Turns' Michael Park (Jack). Catherine, recently divorced from husband Jon (General Hospital's Kin Shriner), runs into high school sweetheart Richard at a party at her friend Tina's (Anne Sayre) mansion. Richard, in the midst of a divorce with Veronica (soap vet Lisa Peluso), is happy to see Catherine, which is in contrast to the rest of his life; his daughter has a drug problem (Carolyn Byrne), his mother is overbearing (Anna Stuart), he's having an affair with his slutty secretary (Brianne Moncrief), and he's gotten in over his head with shady Domninic (Paolo Seganti).
Familiar Faces: One thing Gotham has going for it is the cascade of familiar soap faces that appear in each episode. Actors from a range of soaps appear, and each is playing a role that sets them apart from their characters on their network soap. With proven, professional actors playing these roles, the show already has a leg up on its more amateur competition.
Great Backstory: Byrne clearly created a universe of characters and stories when developing Gotham: The Series and it shows. From the slowly unfolding story of Catherine and Richard's high school romance to Richard's shady business dealings, there is a gold mine of story opportunty here.
Great Music: It took a few episodes, but Martha Byrne's "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" has been solidified as the show's theme song and each episode opens with someone new singing it. It sets a very classy, New York tone to the series, which is fitting given its Manhattan setting.
What Needs Work
Questionable Casting: Gotham, like several other web series (and TV series, for that matter), employs the use of a sassy gay black man to give commentary to the goings-on of the show. Also questionable is the casting of Brianne Moncrief as Samantha. Moncrief didn't give the most striking impression as Colby on all My Children and her southern accent on Gotham should have been excised. I think there's potential there, so here's hoping Ms. Moncrief grows in the role.
Shaky Beginnings: The first four episodes of Gotham were rocky. The theme song wasn't employed, nor was the show's stylish logo. But the show has rectified these two issues and I commend Ms. Byrne on that.
The Verdict When all is said and done, Gotham is a fun, frothy soap worthy of your ten minutes a week. I recommend it highly and hope the show gets the sponsors and publicity it needs to succeed.
I normally can keep my shipper feelings in check, I know how the whole shipping a couple works: They sneak you in by the chemistry, you love the love-hate relationship they first have, you squee when they share their first kiss, and you double squee, when they have their first love scene. Fast-forward to a couple months (or years!)later, they are married. Meanwhile, TPTB notices that people are tuning in; a fanbase is growing, and poof! contrived plot devices start happening to keep your couple apart. You say to yourself, “It’s cool, I watch soaps, and I know they are going to be together in the end.” But after ten or more years, a couple of children later, your super couple becomes boring. You start welcoming love interests into the storyline. This happened to me with Carly and Jack. I am huge fan of Maura West/Carly, so in my mind, I always subscribe to the “If Carly’s happy with whoever, then I am happy with whoever.” Twelve years later, and I’m so back on the Carjack train. So where did it come from? When did my girl decide to make adult decisions? Like going to A&A, when she felt that being around Jack was just as painful as an addiction? Or, that she wasn’t going to be sloppy seconds in Jack’s life anymore? Carly is the type of character that needs to have all or nothing, and I don’t blame her! I cheered when she decided that she was going to be #1 in somebody’s life. Go Carly go! My girl is finally growing up.
I have had my fair share of problems with Jack, mainly his hero complex, but damn it, if Jack/Michael doesn’t kill me with those puppy dog eyes every time Carly shoots him down. Don’t even get me started on Maura’s ability to make me feel Carly’s pain. She absolutely kills me with her trademarked move: The water in the eyes, but not quite tears. Sigh. As frustrating as this love story has been, and seeing how they are dragging this current one out, it’s going to be a long ride, but guess what? CarJack? I’m back on the train. Even better news? I don’t wanna get off! Seriously, how many of y’all yelled at the TV today? “Just do it already!?! No one? Just me? Alrighty then. ;)
Days of our lives was the very first soap that I started watching, so it's with a heavy heart, that I must acknowledge the passing of Ms Frances Reid. Alice was the true definition of a soap opera staple. The heart and soul of the Horton family. As a soap viewer, I would always look forward to scenes with Alice giving advice to everyone from Hope, Jennifer, Bo, John, and her great-grandchildren. Alice provided the warmth that would sometimes be lacking in some of the plot driven story lines. I remember at times, I would roll my eyes in the back of my head, but Alice’s advice would bring me back to reality.
Christmas time was the best, because even if the plots were getting on my nerves, I would always look forward to the tradition of hanging the Horton ornaments. I can't forget the baking of some good old fashion Horton donuts.
The cast and crew always spoke highly about Ms Reid, about her wicked sense of humor, and in the YouTube link posted below, you can just see what type of fun, extraordinary woman she was. Rest in Peace, Frances Reid, truly a daytime icon. YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-cY4A30FZw
As of Friday’s GH, I’ve officially drunk the Kool-Aid. I never though it would happen, but my former favorite show, the show that I turned away from in 2007 following the ridiculous murders of three legacy characters, has briefly restored its former glory and riveted me. It started early in the week with a drunken/high Lucky confronting his fiancée and brother about their torrid affair. Jonathan Jackson’s shocking and vicious portrayal of a betrayed and defeated Lucky had me on the edge of my seat. I could not believe my ears as Lucky called holier than thou Elizabeth a slut, skank, and tramp and called Nikolas out on being what he’d always tried to escape: a Cassadine, through and through. I never thought that Lucky – my sweet, gentle, amazing Lucky, my FIRST CRUSH EVER – would call Elizabeth those names. Granted, this is Guza’s GH and misogyny reins supreme, but in this case I really didn’t feel bad for Elizabeth. Since sleeping with Jason she went completely off course and her affair with Nikolas has cemented her as the town hypocrite.
The show followed up Lucky’s confrontation (written beautifully and powerfully by the lovely Karen Harris) with Lulu’s public humiliation of Elizabeth at the hospital. As Elizabeth stood there and didn’t try to defend herself from the unleashed Lulu, I ALMOST felt sorry for her… almost. It’s going to take a lot for me to feel sorry for Elizabeth after this story.
Onto the main event, Guza showed us that violence is his specialty (in a good way, in this case) on Friday at Carly and Jax’s daughter’s christening. As the town gathered at the church for the big event, Sonny pompously lured and cornered Dante, exposing him as a spy. The tides turned when Dante pulled out his badge and told Sonny: “I don’t respect you. I despise you.” BOOM! Sonny pulled the trigger, showing the audience what an ugly monster he really is, just as Olivia burst in the door: “My God, Sonny! You just shot your own son!”
Now, there are a few things that went wrong during this Godfather-inspired stunt, such as Dante’s lack of weapon. The scenes were also VERY influenced by the Coppola masterpiece, but that is par for the course on GH. I am very excited to see what happens next. I will be hella pissed, though, if Dante either forgives his father or realizes that his father’s way of life is the life he wants to lead.
Can GH follow up the gangbusters of last week with the fallout this week? I’ll tell you one thing – unlike the past two years, I’ll definitely be watching.