This past summer, Nickelodeon attempted to do something different by launching their first telenovela, Hollywood Heights, on the Nick@Nite block. The series was promoted heavily as “Nick@Nite’s first Family Drama” but viewers quickly found out that it wasn’t so much a “family” drama as it was the story of eighteen year old Loren Tate (Brittany Underwood) and her rise to stardom with the other characters supporting this story and occasionally having smaller storylines that played out throughout the series eighty episode run.
Now that the series is headed towards a conclusion, I wanted to take a moment and examine where I feel Nick dropped the ball on the series, and what could have been done to change things around.
Since the series initial preview began earlier this summer, the thing that interested viewers more than any of the acting talent or writing of the show was the series catchy melodies, but instead of monopolizing upon this by releasing the tracks directly to iTunes, Amazon, or selling directly via Nick.com we received no way in which to legally acquire any of the series official tracks, much less the really interesting songs that would play in the background by relatively unknown artist. By making this music legally available fans could have helped support the series monetarily while getting to enjoy and share the series with others through the power of music.
Merchandising and other ancillary rights
So I already mentioned music above, because I feel music unto itself is something that deserved to be sold, but after that the series could have easily manipulated fans by playing up the Team Eddie, Team Max, Team _insert name here_, fanbase by creating print-on-demand t-shirts sold exclusively through the Nick.com website. What better way to promote your series then by having fans wearing walking billboards for it? While I don’t think I’d personally be rocking a “Team Eddie!” shirt, a standard “Hollywood Heights” shirt would be something I’d easily add into my wardrobe.
With that said music and t-shirts are not the only ways to make money. Why not hire an aspiring novelist to transform the Eddie/Loren saga into a short novel tie-in series? As each month (20 episodes) were completed why not use Amazon‘s Create Space program to manufacture print-on-demand DVD’s so fans that do not have high speed internet can purchase the series and still enjoy every soapy moment?
Airing on TeenNick from the start
When Nick decided to start airing Hollywood Heights on Nick@Nite I kinda felt that they were targeting the wrong demographic with the show. Hollywood Heights felt like it would have been a perfect fit on TeenNick where the network could air daily repeats during the afternoon, and provide a good lead in for Degrassi: The Next Generation. However, by the time that Nick@Nite declared Hollywood Heights essentially a failed experiment and shipped it off over to TeenNick the damage to the brand had already been done. With a short run serial such as Hollywood Heights consistency is key, and expecting viewers to move from one network to another was unrealistic, the series lost roughly 200k or more viewers, and was never able to reclaim its spot because the new viewers in the age that Hollywood Heights was really written for simply didn’t care to jump into the middle of the story.
Okay I will be honest the first three things listed above are very business oriented, because this is more about what Nick did wrong, but the blame cannot be laid completely upon the network, as the writing for the series was a bit lack luster to begin with.
While I was captivated by the star crossed lovers storyline, the series never, in my opinion, got to hit its true stride because they were constantly holding back for what appears to be fear of alienating their audience. The series could have done amazing stuff by having Chloe Carter become the equivalent of Melrose Place’s Amanda Woodward, scheming, manipulative, and always getting her way. Instead Chloe was insecure, whiney, and her ‘schemes’ always lacked the real “OMG” factor that the show desperately needed. Then there are issues such as Lisa/Beth/Melissa and how for a majority of the series due to the lack of focus on this story I absolutely hated the character of Lisa, because her actions were so over the top that I got to the point that I didn’t care what the rationalization was I was simply “over it,” and surely enough by the time everything was revealed, the damage to the character had, in my opinion, been done and I couldn’t bring myself to ‘care’ for the character like I wish I could. With that said however, I did like the shift that occurred with the character of Lisa during the last 15 episodes of the series.
Without going into it too much, I will just say that the last story arc on the program, really annoyed me also, because while there were some plot driven elements to the story prior, the whole build up and execution of the “farm” storyline was so plot driven, and so crazy that I simply zoned out and didn’t care because it lacked any sense of realism, but hey that’s just me.
I TRULY wish this show would have been the success it could have been. I LOVE the cast, the crew, and the whole concept behind Hollywood Heights. I applaud Nick for taking a chance and trying something new. I just wish they would have gone ALL OUT towards making this show a success, and that the quality of the show would have been deserving of such a media blitz.
What did you guys think? Do you think Nick really did do all they could to support the series? (Putting the series out on iTunes, Amazon, on their website for viewers who do not have TeenNick, etc) Did you feel the writing for the series was strong? Am I just completely crazy? OR do you agree with me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.