Yes, of course I understand that the beach is a very powerful force. With its eternal promises of paddle-ball, the beach can only be rivaled by Prozac in producing those happy-making hormones that Americans so highly covet. Furthermore, I understand that beach-goers tend to liberate themselves from the harsh constraints of clothing by sporting, well, pretty much nothing, thereby reminding us of sex, an activity which I hear most of us find quite enjoyable. I am also well-aware that the beach has an illustrious history of being associated with first-rate television programming.
When Lisa scored the gang from Bayside High summer stints at the Malibu Sands Beach Club, I, too, rejoiced in ecstasy as Zack Morris totally got to first base with Stacey Carosi, the boss’s daughter. I also must admit that I can’t get enough of watching those insanely beautiful and wealthy, yet deeply troubled kids from the O.C. get knocked up and do each other’s moms. I even understand that Baywatch had its certain, er, charm.
However, contrary to whatever may be running through the heads of WB network executives, the presence of a beach is not quite enough to create good television. I can only imagine the meeting of minds that led to the creation of shows such as Summerland.
Network fat-cat #1: So let’s do a show featuring three recently orphaned siblings, who are now being raised by a free-spirited relative and her adult friends. Sure, things go awry as they try to adapt to this new, wacky family situation, but these problems should be wrapped up by episode’s end, punctuated by a round of hugs.
Network fat-cat #2: Um, with all due respect, that show has already been done. It was called Full House, and it was a runaway success for ABC, due in no small-part to the dead-on accuracy of Uncle Joey’s Bullwinkle impersonations.
Network fat-cat #1: Yeah, but this show will be different. This show will take place by the beach.
Network fat-cat #2: Well that sure changes everything. Let’s make sure to bring Aunt Becky back for this one. She always had such a way with the children.
The collaboration leading to such “Greetings from paradise!” notables as North Shore, Laguna Beach, and pretty much any TV show ever to encompass the word “beach” or “shore” in the title, or to take place in Hawaii couldn’t have been much better.
Network fat-cat #1: You know what I was thinking? Let’s do some sort of show with a beach in it. Kids love that sort of thing.
Network fat-cat #2: Well, that’s a nice concept. But what about plot? Concept? Character development? At the very least, what about some sort of brief relationship between the main character and a kid in a wheelchair? That’s seemed to work for almost every sitcom ever made.
Network fat-cat #1: You know what, let’s just stick with this whole beach idea. I think we’re really onto something here.
Yes, of course the beach is a wonderful backdrop, alive with all sorts of opportunities for action, drama, romance, and “shit, I might as well take my shirt off” moments. But for the love of God and Seth Cohen and Mr. Carosi’s beach club, a show simply cannot rest its weight solely on the supreme awesomeness of the beach.
Archived article by Talia Ron