Saturday, December 5, 2009

And so it begins...

After months of teasers, anticipation, too much talk about booze and underwear, and a whole lot of hype, Crystal Chappell's Venice premiered last night amidst much fanfare. Fangirls welcomed the first installment with predictable enthusiasm: for so many, Crystal Chappell can do no wrong. Others declared it laughable and a failure. Both the praise and the shaudenfraude are premature and, I suspect, knee-jerk reactions. People who have invested months of of their time, and God-knows-how-much money supporting this project in anticipation of it being the great white hope of the lesbian community were going to declare it a work of brilliance, no matter what. People who decided, long ago, that they were rooting for the project's failure, whether because they dislike Crystal Chappell, hated Otalia, or were turned off by unsavory behavior on Twitter were going to declare Venice the worst show, ever, no matter what.

In my opinion, it's too soon to tell, either way.

Details, details, details

Before I even talk about the episode, itself, there are other details that really do need to be addressed.

First off, Venice is a web series. Why, then, have there been serious problems with the Venice website from day one? And why have these problems never been properly addressed? It was clear, very early on, that a server capable of handling heavy traffic would be needed for this project. The Venice team has supposedly upgraded to a bigger server at least twice, now and yet, on the very day of the show's premiere, www.venicetheseries.com crashed yet again. Last night, the night of the show's premiere? The Venicetheseries.com crashed, forcing most to view the first episode on Youtube.

All of this is irrelevant, anyhow, I guess, because the Venice website, when it was accessible, was a mess. The design is sloppy and illogical, and the site is full of stuff that simply doesn't belong there. Why, for instance, does the Venice website include community forum threads covering such topics as football, how to meet women, and Bad Girls? It's clear there has been absolutely no moderation of the community forums, and no efforts to keep the forum threads focused on Venice. Note to Crystal, Hope and Kimmy: Venicetheweries.com is not a series' website. It's clearly a social networking site for lesbians. (Sorry I can't give a more concise list of irrelevant topics covered in the Venice community forum area; the site is yet again down as I write this, making it impossible for me to get a complete list)

If the Venice website includes lots of irrelevant content, there has also been some very important stuff missing. Up until last night, there was no description of the series, itself. No character profiles. No actor bios. Until two days before the premiere, the specific details of the subscription rate was not made public on the Venice website. In fact, it was through an article in an obscure Israeli magazine that many fans found out about the $9.99 subscription rate. This lack of information until the 11th hour reeks of an unprofessional project.

Much has been made of this subscription scheme. Lots of people are angry about it. While I think $9.99 per season is too steep (there will be several seasons a year, with each season consisting of approximately an hour of actual footage), I think it's perfectly reasonable for the producers of Venice to charge for a subscription to this series. It has to make money somehow, and major sponsorship has either eluded the project or not been sought. The $9.99 rate, IMO, should cover an entire year of Venice. To those who claim they never knew Venice would have a price tag attached to it, I call bullshit: there has been talk of some sort of pricing scheme for this show for months- basically since Crystal Chappell first started talking about the project. The fact that there is a subscription rate is perfectly fair and reasonable - people can choose to subscribe or not subscribe, just as we do with cable television. The fact that the specific details of this subscription scheme were kept under wraps until just a day before Venice premiered? Unprofessional and, IMO, unacceptable. Not the way to treat loyal fans.

The Content

What works

The set-up: Episode one of Venice is short and sweet. It does a decent job of setting things up. For anyone who knows nothing, at all, about the premise the following is made perfectly clear: Gina and Ani used to be either girlfriends or fuck-buddies. Ani wanted a serious relationship. Gina didn't. It's clearly a dance they've been doing for a while.

Jessica Leccia: Of the three actors featured in episode one, Jessica Leccia looks most comfortable in front of the camera, and is the most natural.

A realistic touch: Unlike the typical morning-after girl on television, CC's Gina wakes up looking as if she really has just woken up - no make-up, morning eyes, less than perfect hair. Refreshing.

What doesn't work

Cringe-worthy Cliches: The initial shot, panning across a floor littered with Gina and Ani's discarded clothing must have been set up and filmed by Captain Obvious. I guess some people think this shot is sexy or enticing. I think it's just an example of lazy film-making. It's a cliche that has been used to death on both daytime and nighttime television. It's a shot that we really never need to see, again.

Lack of realism: I understand that this isn't a porn film, but why are two women who we are to believe stripped off in a fit of passion, leaving their clothing strewn all over the floor, in a mad rush to have sex waking up with clothing on? Lesbians have sex with tank tops and panties on? Really?

The dialogue: I know a lot of fangirls loved the morning-after talk, but if you stop and actually think about it, it doesn't make sense. The conversation these two women have in bed about Ani having returned to town? It's a conversation they would have had the night before, not the morning after. Again, it's a cliche of bad television and filmmaking: awkward use of dialogue to recap. The most annoying thing about this is that it could have easily been avoided - dialogue that provided a smooth recap would be easy enough to write. Instead of Gina and Ani having a conversation that they obviously would have had the minute they ran into one another at the bar, why not just refer to such a conversation for the audience's sake? Gina: I cant believe you've been in town for days and never thought to call me. Good thing I ran into you, or I never would have known you were back.

Also, if there were ever a phrase that should be banned from television and the movies, it's this one: "I can't do this. We've been down this road so many times."

Note to Kimmy: If this is the great, amazing writing we've been hearing about for so long, you're in trouble.

The soundtrack: I've noticed that even some of the most ardent fangirls are making some noise about how annoying the soundtrack is. I don't like the song but, even if I did, it's too loud and it overpowers the action and the dialogue. Hopefully the complaints about this will be taken seriously by the Venice team, because the music is really over-the-top. Use it as a theme song, and tone it down for background music. No one is watching this to hear that droning voice. They're watching to see and hear the actors act and the story unfold.

Believability factor: Sorry, but I just wasn't feeling it between Gina and Ani. Where Olivia and Natalia had mad chemistry, for some odd reason the same actors playing other characters just didn't take me there and believe them as a couple. Maybe it's because the bed scene felt more like an obligatory bit of girl-on-girl action for all the Otalia fans who got ripped off than anything else. I didn't find it believable or sexy. I didn't feel as if I was watching two characters who'd just had sex and wanted to have more sex with one another; I felt I was watching two actors who were awkwardly pretending they'd just had sex.

The Future of Venice

Who can say? It's much too soon to say where this show will end up going. The fans who have decided Venice is the second coming of Christ are jumping the gun. So, however, are critics who have already written the project off.

Of all the things that I found wrong with the Venice premiere, not one thing is beyond fixing. Fans of the wonderful, edgy Santa Barbara may remember that the first few months of that innovative soap were virtually unwatchable. Knots Landing, possibly the best nighttime serial drama, ever, limped its way through the first season or two before hitting its stride.

On the other hand, these are the days when few projects of this kind get very long to catch on and find their way. It's not unusual for television shows to be cancelled after just two or three episodes, if they don't deliver viewers. This hardly seems fair. Can Venice survive to see a second season? I'm pretty sure it can. Will it be any good? That remains to be seen.

Next Up: Gotham

34 comments:

Nicoleugenia said...

Can has the expressions "That was amazing" "You were amazing" also added to the list of phrases forever and ever to be banned from television, movies, fiction and everyday life?

Anonymous said...

i, of course, um, need to actually watch it before proffering any opinions...but i absolutely agree about some of the decisions that have been made. one in particular has been the big last minute reveal of *gasp* the redesigned website. IMHO, any potential viewers who visited the site before the premiere would have turned the hell back at the original site thinking the whole project had to be as poorly done as that site.

i think a big problem has been impatience to get it out, which i'm sure has a great deal to do with the crazy impatience of the most ridiculous of the fans. i do worry about the ability of the site to maintain the load at each new episode, since as you say, it's not a new issue...and that kind of server is going to cost $$$.

i absolutely have no problem with subscription, but i do have a problem with paid commencing immediately after only one episode, because there are one hell of a lot of people out there who've never heard of Venice, or these actors, or Otalia, and will be hard pressed to join if they only have 6 minutes with which to make their decision when they eventually do stumble upon the series.

i support indy production and unrestricted creativity, but i wish those doing the creating would sometimes listen to that little boy who says the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

Snapper said...

Redesigning the website; great idea. Waiting until this late in the game to do it, to such an extent that it crashed on the night of the premiere? Really bad planning execution. A qulity site, with moderated chat threads and actual information about characters, story and actors should have been in place months ago, to introduce people who don't follow CC on twitter to the project, as a whole.

As for faith in the server not failing, since they've dealt with this before? The very fact that they THINK they've dealt with it, and it went down yet again TODAY gives me ZERO hope. This show will be viewed mostly on Youtube. The server issues should have been worked out before the show ever premiered...LONG before.

Anonymous said...

yup. wonder who they'll have on youtube duty to get rid of the pirated episodes?

why the website was put off so long is beyond me. i imagine they thought they could do it all on their own and learned a bit late that they couldn't.

Anonymous said...

1. They need a music producer desperately, they needed to lower that background music about 5 db's. Assign songs and music to aTV show is for professionals not for writers or editors. also the song chosen for the first part should have been Jen Foster's! Makes no sence they would start a show without their intro song.

2. Very sad that Venice will be charging. Many people donated time many many volunteers are more than willing to give them everything for free including actors so why charge $9.99?

the Guild did a whole season with 0 funds and CRAPPY camaras but after their first season and millions of views on youtube they searched for sponsors and there were many sponsors that were willing to give them a shot. They just finished their third season and DVDs can be found in hot topic, Borders, Xbox Live ect.

I might be biased toward the guild because Felicia Day is my hero and she does it for the love of art ALSO why alienate so many possible viewers? If you are starting an empire you want everyone to support you. Asking around to my group of friends out of 15 people interested in the series only 1 is paying the rest are waiting for the bootleg version on youtube which will be posted ohh 3 minutes after its posted on venice.

SEE MORE ON FELICIA DAY AND HOW SHE GOT $$ fo the GUILD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe7Ln62O9GU

Sorry to have invaded your blog i am a BIG webseries fan and I follow many of them including international shows and this is the first that asks for $$ and found it as a huge turn off.

-msfantasticopr

Snapper said...

Yo, MsF, posting a comment is not what Id consider an invasion - it's all good.

The only thing I have to agree with is the misuse of the word "volunteer." I'm 99% sure the actors who participated in this project did so in the hopes that it would, in a fair amount of time, turn into a paying gig. People "volunteer" to drive cancer patients to chemo for the Cancer Society, or build houses in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity. Actors who work for a seedling project aren't performing a public service, so much as investing in their own futures. I don't say this with any judgement, either: I believe actors deserve to be paid. I just think there's a big misunderstanding among fans, many of whom seem to think the actors involved are doing this as a public service, with no hope of ever getting paid. That's just not a realistic. If all Crystal and Kimmy are ever able to raise is enough to break even re production costs, with no cut for actors? I'm pretty sure it won't be long before all the lovely people involved start disappearing.

Snapper said...

Kneejerk comments and personal attacks are being deleted. Calling me a bitch isn't hurtful - it's silly and unimaginative. Especially when done anonymously.

If you hate my review, make all the comments you want about how wrong you think I am about the elements of the actual show.

DJ Bixby said...

I agree 100% with your critique of the Venice Team professionalism. I don't care if they tweet about goose or panties, but do the work. Website is key. Problems, especially last night, are inexcusable and have no doubt already cost them earning losses and pissed off customers. I am not a fan of their choice of business model, but all could have been thwarted if they had made the subscription announcement earlier with spin press. I do suspect there was a decision made to NOT move the premier back & so this is how it ended up.

Content - I tend to think more of the show than you do, but I think I've watched a lot of bad TV. I'm used to it being cliche at times (standard camera sweeps, overused dialogue, etc). I guess those lines & shots didn't impress me but it doesn't ruin a show for me.

My main difference of opinion is with your reaction to the chemistry between Gina & Ani. I got the impression it was meant to be awkward. Both characters are having completely different experiences and ignoring the other. The characters are in fact pretending. It is not a moment of love fulfilled (doesn't make up for what we missed in Otalia). Many have called Gina cold or mean, but what about Ani? She seems confident but is clingy & desperate for someone who throws her aside.

I guess at the heart of it, in 6 minutes I got to know two completely new characters (not olivia & natalia), learn to like them despite their flaws and became invested. Where it goes from here I will be shelling out $9.99 to find out (once the website seems to actually work that is).

Flying Peanuts said...

Yes.

I've said many of the same things elsewhere, so I won't repeat myself here, but I have to add that I had a very severe case of murderous rage when I heard Ani say two different version of "What does this mean for us?" You know why, I'm sure.

There is, you're quite right, enough time for Venice to improve (lots of room there) and it's too soon to make a definitive judgment. At the moment, the area that needs the most work is the writing, which was astonishingly insipid and trite. Fingers crossed.

Liz said...

Bitch!
JK You know I <3 you, and agree. Although, no comment on the horrible sweater Gina wore to the saddest coffee shop / obvious hotel rooftop of all time? Because after months of poor choices by the GL team for hottie Olivia, a poor choice so soon for hottie Gina is depressing.
And here's the thing- we just interviewed Maeve Quinlan, Paige Bernahrdt, and Nancylee Myatt. They produced 3way,which I think is fab. In our interview, they flat out said that they are accountable only to the fans online- instant feedback helped to shape their series. Just like I fought for the "rightness" of your GL critique, I fight that honest, thought out feedback with valid points from people who know what they are talking about- is always good.
I already said and, so umm... also? We don't turn to the web to see women make out. We don't turn to the web to see the same worn OUT dialogue we see on tv. We don't turn to the web to see what is essentially every romantic love story ever told. We turn to the web to see something OTHER than whats on tv. We want to see those smart, quirky shows we'd never see elsewhere.
So yeah, way too soon to tell- because as we have all learned this year- good stuff turns to shit and vise versa in 2.5 seconds / 5 minutes on an iphone all the time. I hope there are some kinks worked out and ep 2 wows me. We shall see.

Simone said...

The opening scene makeout session was off for me. It felt majorly forced and almost too over the top. CC looked a little crazed (granted, if I had just shagged JL, I might be too) and it just didn't hit the right note for me.

I actually most enjoyed the awkward interplay between Ani/Gina/Owen.

The episode didn't wow me, but it wasn't bad, either. Somewhere in the middle. Agree re: the sound.

The blind fangirls are annoying and to me, the bane of projects like this. Sure, off the bat they provide sales and hype, but without critical discourse on the actual material, it will never be pushed to innovate and improve.

The real question, for me, is whether or not I'm willing to pay $10 on a project that I'm not sure about yet. Especially with quality stuff like Imaginary Bitches and Anyone But Me producing great content free of charge.

Nimbus Rogue said...

I am not a fan of the last minute subscription announcement. I don't have a problem with paying for it personally, but I know a lot of people either aren't able to or don't want to for various reasons. I have a problem with the fact that I subscribed last night after watching episode one, the funds taken out of my paypal acccount and the website still does not show that I paid. I've sent a couple of emails and still have not been able to get into the subscription content.

The last minute website changes was unprofessional. I am glad for the changes, but it should have happened sooner. Agree about the community part, which should be moderated and be primarily about Venice, not all the assorted stuff I saw on there.

The show it's self I enjoyed, minus the fact that Gina and Ani were clothed. Not very realistic. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what happens next though.

Aurora said...

Ouch!
I LOVED the way CC seemed "a bit crazed" like a real sex maniac. One might act that way when they are in bed with the likes of Jessica Leccia. I didn't have to suspend my disbelief for a single moment. Well done, CC.
I thought tank tops were fine.
I am not concerned about the loose community created on the website, especially after the fairly regimented way the Purple board was managed. I'm half Spanish, it's in my blood to not want to be told what to write. I get the idea it's like a "gather here, make friends, etc.", kind of vibe.
My only complaint is that the episodes are so bloody short. Just as some shows' pilots feel awkward, as we need a bit more time to know the characters, Venice may have felt a bit clumsy to some, but not to me (keep in mind I DO go to the web to see chicks kissing, but I have to like them...Laura Harring).
Kudos to the ladies for taking music submissions. We can split hairs about volume, but at the end of the day, what a cool thing to do.
Looking forward to the rest of Venice and glad to shell out the fat cash.

mightynwk said...

First, I am sooooo glad u do what u do . . .I discovered u during Otalia ...good to see your refreshing honesty amongst the rose colored giddiness . .that said I've agreed to be a Venice fan. I watched the first ep (Youtube) and I subscribed. Cliches ruled and music blared but decent beginning . . .ITA with DJ Bixby about Gina & Ani chemistry but ultimately ITA with u re: jury is still out. Lastly, LMAO ITA about the website. At its worse it reads like the bulletin board at the laundromat or local food co-op ( yep there's a group for iphone lovers . . .I have one and I still ask why. the new blogs are no better) At its best it is a strange and unweildy glimpse into . . .what? I visited the site once a month to get updates about how webisodes will work and always left frustrated. It seems info about Venice is everywhere (afterellen Venice blog and Youtube comments shed light on what to do . . .I don't twitter)except on venicetheseries website. As for now, I will wait for others to post the answers to my questions: How do you know if your subscription is valid? Are there more eps immediately following subscription or at a later date? Why is the sky blue? I'm only kidding . . .there is a group for that on the website . . .they'll tell me . . .seriously tho' I appreciate the safe space to air concerns as a fan because there are soooo few of them out here

Travelightly said...

As you know, I am a big fan of yours Snapper. It’s not just that I usually agree with you, it’s mostly because you write so damn well….

I was disappointed in Venice in many of the ways you mentioned, dialog, CC’s discomfort in the opening scene (not sex-crazed, but uncomfortable in general and weak acting in particular. Whatever she used as ‘intention’ didn’t work). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised in JL, because she was far more comfortable in the opening scene with her role in general. I usually see her as the weaker actor in comparison to CC.

After some time way from the computer this weekend, I now understand what I am feeling about Venice: this was not the professional product I expected, instead, it reminded me of a good film student project. And that’s too bad, though not if you are a film student! My disappointment started with the clichéd opening scene with the strewn clothes…ack. Then, the clichéd dialog and weak acting on CC’s part. Check out those ‘You’re amazing’ lines. Did CC really ‘play’ that as an actor? Not to me. The dialog just continued to go down hill from there. All in all, big build up/didn’t deliver, unless you are the grandmothers of the Venice team…:)

I am also concerned that Hope Royaltey, as the director, couldn’t guide these professionals beyond their lines and scenes. A good director with actors of this caliber can often save a weak script, which is obviously not the case here. What is her experience, I wonder?

I now understand why the price of a subscription includes so many items besides the actual episode. Cast interviews and bloopers might actually be worth the money for the die hard CC/JL fan!

Anonymous said...

For the commenter who said The Guild "did a whole season with 0 funds," Felicia Day says in the video you linked that viewer donations funded The Guild's first season.

Venice for its part has a strict no-donation policy, which makes no sense at all. They need all the financial support they can get. Why turn down fans who are willing and able to offer it?

It will be interesting to see if the subscription model pans out for Venice. Without a sustainable business model they won't survive for multiple seasons. If they can't find sponsors and don't change their no-donation policy), their options are severely limited.

Someone mentioned Imaginary Bitches. I loved Season 1 but it's been more than a year since the S1 finale. Where is Season 2? If a web series as popular as IB can't release new seasons in a timely fashion, what hope is there for the rest of them?

Snapper said...

I think it's wise of the Venice team to refuse donations. This is not a charity project - it's an effort to find a way to make this sort of project viable and lucrative.

Also, I'm fairly sure that there are legal and tax ramifications to accepting gifts of cash, especially if they lead to turning a profit. There's the potential of an IRS nightmare for anyone who goes into business to make money, and accepts start-up money on a donation basis.

nikim said...

The conversation these two women have in bed about Ani having returned to town? It's a conversation they would have had the night before, not the morning after.

This. The entire bed scene could have done without any dialogue IMO. Gina kissing Ani senseless and then pulling away would have spoken volumes. And the loud ass music annoyed the hell out of me. I paid the ten bucks for this season but I'm not so sure about any future seasons.

Erin Hoagland said...

Thank you for your insightful and accurate review. I agreed with every part of it and would add that empty props make everyone look ridiculous. They were standing on the beach. If they couldn't fill the coffee cups with water or actual coffee, there was plenty of free sand to be had.

Thanks for posting this.

DiNovia

Anonymous said...

To Aurora on the website and being able to write what you want. You need to go back and read the user agreement for venicetheseries.com. It clearly states that not only can they delete your post if they choose, they can also change your post as they see fit. There maybe little supervision of what is going on at the moment but if they ever decide to regulate it, they can literally put words in your mouth.

Swagala said...

I think your problems began when you expected too much. And I completely disagree with 95% of what you said. You are however, entitled to your opinion obviously.

Anonymous said...

If anyone assumes I am the anon poster above, I would like to say I am not. I am NOT!

Liked it. Venice, I mean. But agreed there are a few issues. For me, being a bit hard of hearing, the music drowns the dialogue.

As for the website, I have been known to say right on it that I thought it, the VCom portion anyway, was a hot mess. Easily fixed by sorting in the community section with the "most members" link. But most people aren't that web saavy or patient to find their way around a site before they go just crating new groups there. *eyeroll*

But the crashing? On launch noght? Not so good for them.

Pity LA was so freakishly cold when they shot the season. Because those sweaters? Lordy. But the good news is the footage (bytage? What shall we call it these days?) shot in Venice looks much more like they're comfortable in their characters than the early scene shot in NYC.

Anyway, I recall 1st episodes of many shows (that I eventually came to love ) being awkward to watch. Star Trek TNG comes immediately to mind.

I can give it a few episodes to settle in. I can sweat the $10 and even $10 next year. I've dropped $20 on items that are less use to me... and often.

And, did you know, commenting about what fans may or may not be like is just inviting a world of trouble for yourself. But best of luck handling the responses!

*Facelicks!*
VeniceRiley

hachiomaru said...

I liked the episode. It is not perfect, no. I also think the music is too loud and dialogue too low. I thought the pan of clothing was kind of stupid when we see them wearing clothes. Uh, duh? I would have preferred to see bare shoulders and sheet covering the rest giving the illusion of actually having had sex and sleeping and then waking and starting again. Thought JL was marvelous. Liked CC. Think Ani should get a clue and leave the clearly messed up (and not interested in getting her act together) Gina behind.
I'm willing to pay to support them. I believe it will get better. I am grateful to them for trying to give the lesbian community something better we can relate to.
I hate the website. It is just a mess and I don't understand why they can't get a server that doesn't crash. That is not helpful for garnering many viewers.
Thanks for the honest commentary.

Anonymous said...

I agree that vcomm was a mess from the start, and didn't get much better for the premier.On the first episode,i thought crystal did fine portraying gina as emotionally damaged, and not ready for a relationship.I am glad jl stepped up her game from guiding light.Nice to see more than a smile and dimples from her.

Snapper said...

Swagala - I don't think it's too much to expect people to be professional and have their shit together. This is not reinventing the wheel - there are dozens of web series happening. Setting up a server that doesn't crash is not rocket science. Processing people's memberships is not rocket science. Writing dialogue that hasn't been used over and over again is not rocket science. If we expect shit, we'll get shit. I happen to think Crystal Chappell is a really talented person - Venice should reflect this. In fact, there's no reason it *shouldn't*.

I respect your opinion, and am genuinely glad you clearly enjoyed the Venice premiere episode. I hope you send the Venice team feedback - I'm sure anyone doing this needs all the encouragement they can get.

BukkiOla said...

I am coming to this interessting blog the first time. And I appreciate a fair critical approach as endless praise ca be boring. But I must tell you I miss the compassion in you critic. An that is what I am really interessted in is the passion of the whole thing. I do not need to watch tv, soap or any kind of entertainmant if that is missing. And there Venice 1 eps., CC and the crew delivered twice... 1. We got the Kiss - Meaning the world to as you choose to call us the Otalia-fans. - And it was the most beautiful kiss one could imation. Would have been even more loving if it had been Nat and not Ani kissing. As we know Ani stil has a big fight coming to get the girl. And 2. CC and the Venice-team have created a high profil product. They incooperated a intruiging concept of encluding and community that I work for in my field and I know others that are doing that in thier field. And that is so beautiful and in my mind a direct continuation of what Otalia meant and means to all of us and the world.
So snapper keep up your good work and add a little bit of a possitive attitude to it! Well, just a suggestion. ;) from Berlin/Germany

Lea said...

I enjoyed Venice overall. I thought CC and JL maintained their chemistry from GL and yet they never made me think of Olivia and Natalia. The dialogue was very weak, but the acting made up for it.

The music is a bit too loud and there were some audio issues with the dialogue. The video looks amazing though and I have to give them props for that.

As to waking in tanks and panties? I thought it was a ridiculous choice. I didn't expect nudity, but how about having them just wrapped in the sheets?!? It would make more sense.

Unlike Gotham - I did get a feeling for the characters and what is going on from this episode. I didn't read the Venice site for any info beforehand because it was down (I didn't read the Gotham site either I wanted to watch the episodes without doing that and see what I could gleen). I think Venice looks much more professional than most any other web series I've seen.

However, the Venice team earns a huge fail over the issues with the web site. It's silly to be upgrading hours before the premiere. The site should have been testing and all of that for at least a week. And the content should have been changed ages ago. I completely agree about the forum/community stuff. That should be about Venice not about all the stuff that's currently there.

I don't mind the subscription model at all. CC mentioned it from the beginning and really - the idea is to make the thing financially viable. Will Venice do that? Who knows but for now I'm willing to pay.

I'm excited to see more of Venice.

Anonymous said...

Whatever is written is written and already filmed so it will be next season until improvement can be made in that area. Careful editing of the future episodes could help somewhat, however.

I agree with a lot of Snapper's comments and at least she has the balls to be honest in writing. Team Venice wants to this to be an interactive venture. Well, they are getting that.

I want to make it very clear that I very much want this series to succeed so all my comments are said with constructive love.

The conversation about Ani only being back in town WOULD have taken place the night before probably immediately once these two laid eyes on each other again. That struck me right away the first time I viewed the episode.

I did not expect this to be Otalia II so it did not upset me when the chemistry was different.

Yes, strategic placement of sheets would have been more realistic than tank tops after it was made so clear with that opening pan shot that they had stripped naked.

JL did an excellent job. I don't know how she could have delivered her lines/body language any better than she did.

CC is making it clear that she is portraying a woman who is really into sex but not commitment (did anyone else notice her smelling her fingers while she tried to explain to Ani that they had been down that road before?) Even more telling (and jarring) was her "Dinner?" invite to Owen immediately after Ani goes off for her shoot and this is not lost on her brother Owen. I suspect that we will be watching her character in this first season come to the realization that she did indeed make a terrible mistake because she needs Ani's love.

The music does need to scoot down in volume which can be improved in the editing of future episodes. Even the first episode can have the audio edited as has been shown already by the change in Gina's ringtone--yeah, I'm into the details. The glaring instrumental rock music while they were making their entrance to the rooftop coffee shop was just trite. Fade outs of the music were also too abrupt, even at the very end. Actual song choices, in my opinion, were good, but I'd also love to hear some use of creative acoustic instrumental music that would not get in the way of the dialog as much.

When Owen slapped down the newspaper, it jumped me--it was so much sharper and louder than the dialog. That could have been (and still can be) edited quite easily. I found GG' acting to my liking. It is obvious that Owen knows his sister well: The good and the bad.

I also found the empty coffee cups distracting. It is interesting how little things like that make a difference.

I was very concerned by the site failing/crashing that premiere night. I watched it on You Tube, but my concern was that when things like this go wrong, you lose your audience.

I very much want Venice the Series to succeed and I hope that the team reads any and all constructive feedback. I paid the subscription fee since I did not buy a dozen panties and when I log on to the site, it recognizes that I am a subscriber. I hope that all of you who were the earliest subscribers can get things worked out.

Hugs to all, bye!

Kariam said...

Thanks to Superhero Lunchbox for another well written critique! The minute I heard lines like "That was amazing" "You were amazing" I immediately flashed back to Bad Girls where Helen and Nikki were in bed. Venice paralleled much of that episode for me so it didn't feel new or original. I agree with almost every comment here re: the lines, the tank tops that shouldn't have been in bed, the clothes, the passionless kisses that simply annoyed me, and the convoluted mess that was and is the website. The one thing I enjoyed the most was the music! As for an immediate subscription fee I'd be happy to pay $10/year but not per season. I look forward to seeing the rest of the season on youtube and hope it gets better from here because I want them to succeed. I enjoy Crystal and would be very sad If Jessica's beautiful face was no longer available on screen.

Travelightly said...

Now that I have some distance from the Venice premiere (and for that matter, Gotham), I realize why I am left disappointed in Venice. My thoughts are not that different from many. Briefly there are two issues: 1) Venice suffered from its own heavy 24/7 hype and 2) the first episode didn’t live up to it.

Crystal Chappell has always said that she created Venice to tell a story that couldn’t be told due to the constrictions and rules of network tv; to be free to film a story that was more realistic. So to that end Venice, we were to presume, would be bold, push limits, not do what has already been done. Or at least that’s what I presumed. But I didn’t get that on Friday night. In fact, nothing I saw couldn’t have been shown on network tv. Beginning this long-awaited series with such a cliché-ridden opening, was very sad. Astonishingly, Crystal was obviously not comfortable in bed with Jessica Leccia, who surprised a lot us by totally out-acting her more experienced co-star. There was no chemistry between the two, partly because of the discomfort on Chapell’s part, but also, I think, because Turrisi chose to make Gina so hard and disinterested. Can you imagine Crystal playing that scene showing her love and vulnerability toward Ani, then realizing she needed to keep that under control? That would have shown some conflict. But the way it was played, there was no energy, no emotional movement individually or between the two. Even with such script difficulty a good director can often get good actors to rise above the dialog. It’s too bad that didn’t happen.

I now understand why the Gotham promo seemed so jam packed. It was trying to show us what we could expect from the series: who are the characters, what are their stories and conflicts and to give a sense of time and place. After seeing Venice, don’t think I got any of that, at least not in a positive way. I got a sense of weak acting, dialog that could have been written by a 13 year old who watches a lot of movies and tv, but literally no sense of time and place. That is not an apartment I would like to see very often and that rooftop café…? That’s the best they could do in Venice, CA???

At any rate, this first episode was supposed to make me want to pay for the rest of the episodes, wasn’t it? It was supposed to make me want more, right? I didn’t get that. I am so disappointed. I wanted it to be the best it could be, but I don’t think it was.

Thermos said...

I think it's great that you've created an opportunity for us to express our true feelings about Venice. That being said, here goes:

TEN DOLLARS
The subscription scheme seems to be the dividing line for most fans. I think that $10 a season is way to expensive for an hour’s worth of show, especially when you throw in the fact that Open Book is planning four or five seasons a year. That’s getting more expensive: $40 or $50 for five hours? You can throw in the “extra” content of bloopers & behind the scenes footage, blah, blah, blah, but that stuff doesn’t interest me in the slightest. And yes, shows like Santa Barbara and Knots Landing were slow to gather support, but if their survival had depended on viewers paying ten dollars an hour to watch, I doubt they would have been on the air very long. For a year’s worth of viewing, I might be willing to go out on that limb, but not after only seeing five minutes of storytelling.

PRODUCTION AND CHARACTERS
I think the show was beautifully done. The cinematography was top notch, even though the camera person apparently has an aversion to headroom and the rule of thirds. The sound was pretty good, even though the music was intrusive. But while it was indeed shiny and pretty, the storytelling was sold out to a kiss. Perhaps this is why we were given the clichéd clothes-strewn-all-over-the-floor opening pan shot. “Open Book” was in such a rush to give us an “Otalia” kiss, they forgot the reason why we craved it: the build-up, the romance of finding love and the simmering chemistry between Olivia and Natalia. Unfortunately, after the opening fantasy-fulfilling kiss, we are left with Gina and Ani. It’s a high-tech version of beer goggles.

I find neither Gina nor Ani likeable, as my impressions are that Gina is a commitment- phobic sex addict, and Ani is a co-dependent jellyfish. Maybe, for a fleeting moment, Ani grew a spine when she wanted a commitment, but apparently it dissolved in time for her to hop back into bed with Gina. Owen is a nice set dressing, but if you didn’t read Crystal Chappell’s tweets, you would have no idea that he is supposed to be her brother. As for the other guy at the coffee shop, I have no clue. Character development must be a luxury that a web series can’t afford.

WRITING
The main problem, in my opinion, is the writing. Good actors can do only so much with a weak script. There is little, if any logic to the action in this episode. First Ani pulls away from Gina’s kissing because she wants to talk about their relationship. Then Ani wants Gina to play some more instead of get out of bed. We get the whole commitment phobic talk between Gina and Ani, and then we get to hear it again when Gina is talking to Owen. Since the “Coffee Shop” scene doesn’t identify Owen’s role in Gina’s life, nor does it advance the plot, there’s really no point to it even being there.

In the most confusing part of the episode, Gina “confesses” to Owen that she never got Ani out of her head, but obviously this is not a feeling of remorse, since Ani is simply off camera at this point, fetching their lattes. Ani was RIGHT THERE; she wasn’t getting away, she was getting the coffee.

Overall, I would probably give Venice a D+ as a grade, mainly because of how Jessica Leccia owned every single second she was on the screen. But the writing needs huge improvements to garner any interest outside of the Crystal Chappell or Jessica Leccia fan club.

Anonymous said...

After having watched GL for the better part of a year, I must admit that my standards have sunk very low. None of the production problems bothered me. I wouldn't mind paying $10 for a whole year but I don't know if I would pay that much for what amounts to less than a few days of GL.
Perhaps Venice can survive with only the diehard Otalia fans onboard. I'm glad they will also have other GL alums to attract a wider viewership.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

OMG I cannot believe how dire Ep2 is - 6 minutes of random feng shui activity between two old birds?!?!?! What the....? I paid $9.99 for that??? It's all wrong!