After nailing the intersection of music and young lives in The O.C., it made perfect sense when creator Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl) announced a Web-only series for the WB.com that would take place completely in a live music club. The first four episodes of that show, Rockville, CA, make their premiere today.
The show received attention during taping as the new place for bands to show up and get their buzz on. Each episode revolves around a group of annoying, one-dimensional characters hanging out over the course of a gig, with the live performances brought lovingly front-and-center. The episodes currently posted include Nico Stai and the Kooks, with the Kaiser Chiefs, Lykke Li, Travis and Eagles of Death Metal on the long list set to appear.
The good news: You can just watch the band performance clips and skip the episodes altogether.
Confined to short vignettes in a small media player, the characters are reduced to annoying stereotypes: The typical Schwartz male, spurting out paragraphs of disdain and trying way too hard (Hunter); the mousy A&R girl he meets (Deb); the obnoxious, horny blond guy (Chambers) and the monosyllabic rocker dude. Sample dialogue:
CLUB OWNER: That was Chambers.
HUNTER: Otherwise known as The Douche. [Pause.] Well, that’s my name for him, but feel free to use it.
DEB: [Smiles.] "The Douche." I like it. [Walks away liking Hunter.]
Or perhaps this line, in which Deb tries to cheer up Hunter after he realizes the new waitress he thinks likes him acts that way with everyone:
DEB: Hey, forget about her. This band — it’s major."
As we get to the third and fourth episodes, the characters don’t have to try as hard to leave an impression and the running time gets a bit shorter, but the writing remains obvious and flat. And the real-life club in which the series is shot looks like it must be sprayed down by industrial cleaners every night.
The best bet is to watch the performance clips of the bands of interest, skip the show and rent Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, an underappreciated and far more revealing look at the role music plays in youth and love.