NBC’s summer drama Camp has been doing well in the ratings, routinely pulling down 3.5 million viewers. Yet the chatter around the show certainly isn’t setting Twitter on fire. Unlike Shonda Rhimes’ political sudser Scandal, which gained viewers thanks to social media word-of-mouth, Camp seems to be popular despite social media indifference.
You’ll probably never see Camp trending on Twitter; in fact there seems to be an Internet wall of silence around watching the show.
I’m going out on a limb and assuming I’m not the only person in the world watching Camp, unless this is an Orphan Black situation and there are another 3.5 million of me I’m not aware of. So why is the social media and critical chatter so demure when it comes to NBC’s summer dramedy?
The show, set in a fictional “family camp” called Little Otter, features a cast headlined by Six Feet Under’s Rachel Griffiths. You might be asking yourself, “What is a family camp? It it like a bootcamp where you take trouble children and have drill sergeants scream at them? Is this a tough love thing?” The answer is no, although some version of this idea is being pitched right now at the TLC network, somehow involving Honey Boo Boo Child.
Camp does not endeavor to answer basic questions like the difference between a family camp and a regular camp. The show doesn’t even answer questions like how professional adults seemingly get off from work all summer to drink wine and complain about their children.
Having read this description, you might be wondering why anyone would watch Camp. But the truth is, although the show isn’t reinventing the wheel, it is an hour of solid fun every week. The campground shenanigans are usually worth a chuckle and the characters have become more dimensionalized and endearing as the show plugs along.
Splitting time between the young, attractive teen camp counselors and the older generation keeping Little Otter afloat allows the show to juggle a wide variety of storylines. While Griffiths’ camp director Mack tries to bounce back from her divorce with a complicated love triangle, the kids have their own relationship problems to deal with.
Tom Green’s Kip gets a girlfriend who thinks his brush with leukemia makes him dark and dangerous, while power couple Robbie (Tim Pocock) and Sarah (Dena Kaplan) fall out over infidelity. And this doesn’t even touch the walking sex comedy cliche that is Mack’s son Buzz (Charles Grounds), desperate to lose his virginity at any cost. It’s this mix of more emotionally grounded storytelling with -- dare I pun-- a fair amount of campy ridiculousness that makes the show a fun summer diversion.
It’s too soon to tell if NBC will renew the show for a second season, but I certainly hope they do. Even if I’m the only one willing to admit watching.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Rather than going to the well for another X-Men sequel Hugh Jackman’s mutant Wolverine has been spun off into an uneven prequel that tries to explain the character’s origins but somehow misses what we liked about him in the first place. X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens with a flashback to 150 years ago which unveils the relationship between Logan and Victor mutant half-brothers who are forced to run away from home after Logan murders their biological father. After several scenes depicting the brothers’ service in various wars the story settles in around the 1970s where both Victor and Logan are recruited by the devious William Stryker to serve in a mutant army. But Logan spurns Stryker after taking part in a massacre in East Africa and chooses instead to settle down with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox in the Canadian Rockies. Six years later Victor now Sabretooth shows up and kills her. Logan now Wolverine seeks revenge reluctantly making a deal with Stryker in order to become indestructible. Unfortunately he is double-crossed and uncovers a Stryker/Sabretooth plot to kidnap mutants and use them for no good. He escapes and the chase is on as he tries to stop them — and anyone else in his way — before his memory is erased.
WHO’S IN IT?
It’s the buffed-up Jackman’s show all the way as Wolverine graduates to star status — and that’s exactly the problem. It turns out a little of this guy goes a long way especially when he’s presented in as humorless and unimaginative a manner as the deadly serious approach taken by Hugh (who also co-produced). Jackman acquits himself nicely in the numerous action scenes but fails to make a lasting human connection for Wolverine and the audience. Liev Schreiber is good as Sabretooth but plays it mostly on one note. His three fight scenes opposite Jackman are well-choreographed but become tiring. Danny Huston makes a fine heavy as the evil Stryker while Lynn Collins is lovely as Silverfox adding a nice touch of emotion to this mostly stoic CGI-fest. A promising new group of mutants are also introduced but unfortunately aren't given much to do. Standouts are Ryan Reynolds as the smart-talking Wade Wilson aka Deadpool; rapper will.i.am as John Wraith; and Kevin Durand as the humungous Fred J. Dukes aka The Blob. Durand is especially impressive in a boxing gym scene. Conversely Lost’s Dominic Monaghan receives too little screen time in the role of Bradley.
Wolverine’s CGI effects are predictably top-notch and a couple of big action set pieces are visually arresting including a motorcycle/helicopter chase that may lack credibility but is at least fun to watch.
Lighten up Wolvie. Jackman and everyone else seem to be taking this stuff way too seriously. The humanity that was a hallmark of the previous X-Men films also is largely AWOL and the picture takes a long time to get going. We’re at the 40-minute mark before the claws really start to come out and the psychological mumbo-jumbo stops.
In the lab Stryker promises to make a revenge-seeking Wolverine indestructible but his double-crossing antics only serve to unleash severe rage inspiring great balls of mutant fury as the furious mutant makes his great escape — sans clothing.
WHY YOU SHOULD SIT THROUGH SEVEN MINUTES OF END CREDITS?
For those who think the movie effectively ends when the credits roll here is a “heads up” to hang around.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Since reportedly about 100 000 people downloaded a rough cut when Wolverine was illegally pirated a few weeks ago why not help out poor 20th Century Fox and see it the legal way on the big screen? It’s a big improvement over your iMac.