Opening Night at Rockville, CA   

ROCKVILLE, CA Doors Open 3.17.09 on TheWB.comRae convinced me to check out Rockville, CA, and I’ve just watched the first four episodes, which only took me 23 minutes. Four episodes in 23 minutes! This is the future of “television”! Bite-size storytelling. So in that vein, here’s a bite-size review.

It’s telling that I feel that each episode is too short. I’m always left wanting more every time the episode ends. Why? For me, it’s Deb. Her slightly annoying obsession with the word “major” notwithstanding, she’s totally cute. Is it believable that she’s a talent scout? Not really, since we haven’t seen her do much scouting yet, but I never found myself questioning her role because she’s so adorable. I enjoy her banter with Hunter—whose role I can’t quite figure out yet…is he just a music fan?—and it was nice to see another side of her when Natalie Morales—Wendy Watson!—appeared in episode 4. The dialogue is fairly snappy, as you’d expect from a Josh Schwartz production, but it’s not notably quotable just yet. The cast overall is entertaining. (Rae did promise me a hot blonde, but she’s only been in one episode so far.)

Ironically, for a show built around musical performances, the musical performances are the least effective part of the show. They’re shot in the most irritating way possible with lots of zoom-ins and zoom-outs. It seems to be very difficult to seamlessly integrate a musical performance into a television show; it always comes across as obtrusive and brings the the narrative to a halt. Even though only ten or fifteen seconds are spent on the Band of the Week, that can be a significant percentage of a short webisode. It doesn’t help that the bands are largely indistinguishable. I couldn’t pick out Nico Stai from the Broken West if you had a gun to my head, and I’m lucky I already know the Kooks. The Duke Spirit set themselves apart by having a female lead singer and a slightly more soulful/bluesy sound than the other indie rockers so far. And a tambourine. Their performance is also the least irritatingly shot, with fewer crazy zooms and more variation in the staging presented, which I’m hoping is a sign that by the fourth episode, they realized they were screwing up the entire point of their show.

So far, Rockville, CA is pretty solid. I think the show needs to make better use of its setting and really give us a feel for the club and what’s going on on the floor when the band’s playing. How does the music make everyone feel? Are we going to see Our Heroes break it down on the dance floor? I’ll be tuning in next week to find out…what the bouncer’s reading.

2 Responses to “Opening Night at Rockville, CA”

  1. 1
    Rae says:

    I like Deb too but I’m hoping they tone down the “major” soon or I’m gonna wanna slap her. Though I did like the “major” vs “outrageous” standoff between her and Chambers. Heh.

    I didn’t notice the music stuff but I have to agree the only band that really stood out to me was Duke Spirit. It was the first time I really noticed the camera staying on the singer for a few minutes.

    I’m hoping that once we know their entire cast of characters that we’ll get a little more from each episode, maybe a little of what you’re looking for with how the music plays a part in the story.

  2. 2
    Polter-Cow says:

    Yeah, seriously, we get it, she likes saying things are major! But I agree that the “major” vs. “outrageous” thing was amusing. It was just kind of random and funny.

    And, exactly on Duke Spirit. The camera actually stayed on the singer instead of jumping around like a nut.

    I’m guessing some sort of plot will really emerge; Hunter mentioned something about the possibility of the club shutting down.