Sunday, April 12, 2009

Watching Lately...Moving Wallpaper & Echo Beach

I've been watching ITV's Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach from the beginning. I was fascinated when I first heard the idea behind the two shows. Here's the skinny: Moving Wallpaper is a 30 minute comedy revolving around the behind the scenes antics of a creative staff putting together a British teen-soap called Echo Beach starting a week or so before the first airing. It's funny, witty and charming with sharp, sometimes trashy (yet smart) humor.

After ITV aired each new episode of Moving Wallpaper, they then broadcast a new 30 minute episode of Echo Beach, the show you just witnessed the creation of on MW. Pretty brilliant, right? An hour's worth of TV, split in two, yet created together. True sibling shows! EB, as I mentioned, is a soapy teen drama following the likes of The O.C., with less glitz and humor. It's a good show, as well, but it doesn't hold up to Moving Wallpaper.

Not surprisingly, EB was cancelled in real life after the first season, though MW moved on to a second season. I've yet to make it that far, but I've learned that the staff is now working on a zombie show and ITV chose to only create a 30 minute pilot and give it the web-only treatment. Atleast MW continued.

I think the mistake was pairing a smart comedy with a night time soap. For most viewers (though I am excluded from this generalisation), it's one or the other, so the lead-in audience was cut dramatically right away. If Echo Beach had also been a thinking man's comedy it may have lasted.

It is quite funny and fascinating to see them talking about something in particular in the writer's room or on stage in a humorous manner and then find it portrayed seriously on EB. Case in point, on MW a biting joke was made about a writer misspelling a word and the prop master carrying that mistake onto the prop poster he made for the show. Twenty minutes later, on EB, the character hanging up the poster gets called out on his grammar.

As I said above, I do think it's a great idea and since pretty much every good idea a British producer has come up with has made it to our shores, I'm surprised it hasn't been imported to the states yet. Any producers out there wanna give me a job? We'll make two smart comedies and rule the Emmy's! I can see it now.

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