Episode 1: Pilot
By: Carlos Uribe
Camp is a show about people who work at a summer camp called Little Otter.
The joy of summer where school is out and some parents get to go on vacation. A few families might elect to go to the beach, travel overseas, and some decide to go to a family summer camp. Camp is a show about a family summer camp. It makes sense that this series would air in the summer because it fits the season but it also makes it's future doubtful considering how hard it is to attract viewers during the summer. Why? A lot of them are away on camps like Little Otter that don't have any televisions. So it's a bit ironic that part of the reason that Camp will likely remain a one season show is because of camp. Obviously not everyone goes to camp but they do other activities during the evening that limits the potential reach a show in the summer can have. Still, a series about a summer camp can be fun. There have been multiple movie comedies made about summer camp for a reason: it can present a lot of opportunities for comedy and simply because their supposed to be fun. Camp is a dramedy because it's a one-hour drama with a lot of comedic elements. It's supposed to be a light, fun summer show that doesn't require that much thinking. In a way, it's a lot like an actual summer camp: a temporary escape from normal life. There is no doubt there is some escapist element of this show for the people who don't get to go to camp but want to. It's filled with a lot of cliches (the kid who doesn't want to be there, the kid who wants to have sex by the time summer is over) that pervade through the show and it doesn't really have a singular focus. A lot of the moments for comedy are a bit strained or a bit too obvious. It's not going to be the best new show but it is a fun way to spend an hour if you have nothing better to watch or do.
The plot for the pilot is pretty simple and relatively predictable. There is the kid who doesn't want to be there but he decides to stick around because he likes a girl. The head of the summer camp is dealing with a recent divorce and grapples with whether or not she should sell the camp. It should come as no surprise that she decides against selling nor that she sleeps with her rival. The son of the head wants to have sex and start living his life even as he finds himself dealing with an overbearing parent. His likely love interest is Grace, who he largely offends in this episode because she has gay parents and he used the word “faggy” in a negative way. There is a former swimmer who has given up her dream because she lost her scholarship to Princeton. Making matters more complicated is that her summer camp fling is planning to attend the school. She's lied about the reason she's given up swimming so there's an issue there. It doesn't help that she finds a new love interest with a famous author from the rival summer camp. It's a relationship that we're given no reason to care about which means the added stakes (new love rival, lying) leave little impact. The final character, Cole, is the maintenance guy who tries his best to fix the talent show because the speakers broke down. It's all exactly what you would expect from Camp but it's okay because it's largely fun. It's possible that the show will be able to approach new territory or at least explore old ones with a fresh perspective down the road. Camp may not revolutionize anything but it does average pretty well.
A series lives and dies by it's characters. The main protagonist is Mack Granger. She's trying to keep the summer camp running even as she's dealing with having to start her life over again due to the divorce. A lot of her actions are determined not by her personality but by this recent life change. She's basically a stock character with very little dimension to who she actually is. The writers seemed to confuse giving her serious issues to be dealing with for depth. She can't just be dealing with divorce, she needs to be a person before that. The little personality she does have is what you would expect from the character. She does have a rival in Roger. He's the owner of the wealthy summer camp from across the lake. He likewise has very little personality other than to be attractive and be a rich snob. That's basically all there is to him. Camp is not a show that has complex characters. Mack's son, Buzz, is the basic average awkward teen you would expect. He writes down his plan to get at least a blowjob by the end of the summer and tries to make moves on females. The more interesting part of the character is that he tries to move into the man's cabin because it shows his desire to be independent but the show loses points because the only reason he wants this is to get girls. I would suggest to the show to concentrate more on his attempts to rebel to be his own person and grow from his mother's shadow rather than simply an awkward teenager trying to have sex. The former, when done right, can be compelling while the latter is simply expected. The former gives him some complexion while the latter keeps him a stereotypical teenager.
He's not the main teenager of the show. That would have to go to Kip. He's the character who doesn't want to be there, of course. He would rather go to documentary film festivals then spend his summer outside. He changes his tune when he realizes that a girl at the camp, Marina, likes him. I must admit that Kip is slightly more developed than the other characters partially due to his leukemia but he's still woefully a two-dimensional being. As for Mariana? She's a bland female character with little personality. She takes interest in Kip for seemingly no reason nor does she seem to have any desires of her own. She simply acts as the love interest. Even Buzz's love interest, Grace, is slightly more developed as she has a backbone. The maintenance manager of the summer camp is Cole and I guess he probably has a crush on Mack. His entire character is built around supporting her. The final two characters are Robbie and Sarah. Robbie is the smart, preppy, jock who is happy he's going to Princeton to be a lawyer. He's very flat. As for Sarah? She starts out just as flat as a former swimmer. She does get signs of potential depth when she reveals she quit due to drinking while driving. Substance abuse would certainly make that character more interesting. All in all, the characters of Camp are all two-dimensional.
Camp is not going to win any awards. It'll likely last one season because it airs in the middle of the summer but it's premise promises a fun show. It largely delivers even with it's utterly predictable plot and some jokes that are telegraphed a mile away. I found myself enjoying this show even if I wasn't connecting with the characters. How could I when just about every one of them are one-dimensional constructs rather than actual human beings? Still, there are worse ways to spend your time and I could see myself tuning in to see where the show goes.