Reviews

The Bay Review: Trouble In Bay City

‘The Bay’ is probably the web series that daytime soap fans know the best, with ‘Venice’ being the only other contender for name recognition. It stars many popular daytime soap opera stars, and a fair few promising new faces, and has a lot of buzz from the more mainstream soap opera publications.

With heavyweight headliners like Mary Beth Evans, Tristan Rogers, and Matt Ashford, the show premiered part 1 of episode 8 (each episode comes in three or four parts aired weekly) after a hiatus that began in late December of 2011. It opens with the wedding of Brian and Zoe, but with a hilarious and creepy twist. There’s also a genuinely touching scene of friends Christine and Janice as Christine tries to get her drunken friend to go home.

With this “minisode,” The Bay almost manages to live up to the potential it’s been falling short of since its premiere back in the fall of 2010. It’s held back by its own ambition.

Casting news is The Bay’s forte. Show runner Gregory J. Martin knows how to cast people, and how to craft an announcement that will get people talking and watching. Sadly, what they aren’t talking about is the show itself. Bay City (not to be confused with the Bay City of defunct daytime soap opera Another World) is a place of explosions and scandal and yet, it lacks the most important thing a drama needs: intrigue.

For all the cheating, kidnapping, and all around drama that The Bay offers, it all seems secondary to who is on the screen. The actors are fantastic, but the characters are flat. Calling them two dimensional would be generous. The show acts as though we already know them, and doesn’t bother to introduce us to them.

Before the series premiered, there was a series of “interviews” with the Garrett family that aired, in which they told us of the many trials they’d overcome in life. But, again, this is being told something, not learning something. We know what happened to Sara Garrett, but we don’t know who she is. We don’t know any of the characters, and more keep getting added at every turn.

Last summer there was a summer mini-series about the youngest of Sara’s children Pete. It was the closest we came to finding out who Pete is, as he was doing the same thing himself via amnesia. We saw the flashbacks to his youth, met the members of his adoptive family, and then crying when he found the only woman he could remember: his adoptive mother.

And then the next season of The Bay opens and Pete’s journey isn’t addressed. It’s glossed over for wedding drama of a couple that nobody is invested in. We don’t see that they’re in love, just told they are. Things don’t develop naturally in Bay City; it’s all bouncing from one shocking plot twist to another. Character development is nearly non-existent. And as similar shows like Devanity and the defunct Gotham have proven time restraints on the web are not a hindrance.

On the production side,The Bay has steadily increased in quality. The sound was quite a turnoff in the first season, as it was hard to make out anything, but now there are only occasional bits of tinny sound. One has to assume that veteran production company, who secured a distribution deal with the show, ATI has helped that improvement. Visually, outside of some of some weird camera work in the first few episodes staged in the Garrett Tavern, the show has always looked amazing.

The Bay is clearly a work of love from everyone involved, and it’s clear a lot of hard work goes into every aspect of the show. But this show really needs to learn that less is more.