NBC’s new dramedy Camp — not to be confused with USA’s reality series Summer Camp, which premieres tonight, even though the conflicting promos certainly do their best — debuted Wednesday. I love Rachel Griffiths and therefore want to love this, but I’m not quite sold, not yet. The show seemed to want to project a “freakish outdoorsy cult mentality,” but I mostly saw people sitting around fabulously lit-from-all-sides bonfires and kids interrupting their parents during somewhat juicy sex talk. (Wait, they’re at a “family camp”? What is this, Dirty Dancing? Ooh, I wish.)
I think I was hoping for idyllic and understated with a bit of quirk, and instead there was clunky popsicle humor… and shoehorned-in references to Comic-Con, Sons of Anarchy, and America’s Got Talent. Overall I felt like camp director Mackenzie (Griffiths)’s son Buzz at the end of the show: “I love you — but that was a lot of words, mom.”
But it’s summer, I’m in a good mood, and Camp did offer a decent array of sparkly water patches for me to enjoy. So why not mention those instead? In the spirit of oversexed teenage Buzz, let’s call them…
My “glistening nipples” of the Camp series debut:
–The plaid dishtowels on the shoulders of the counselors-in-training in the mess hall complemented Mackenzie’s outfit (pictured) in a randomly pleasing way.
–Australian accent leaks! Not on Rachel, but on some of the kids. I love.
–I was thrilled to hear Fitz and the Tantrums’ “More Than Just a Dream” during the sunny scene in which leukemia patient Kip and joint-bearing new girl Marina roll up to the Little Otter Family Camp. “I’m aware of a cool song!” I thought. Come on, that rarely happens.
–Rachel Griffiths leading a line dance. You can’t really go wrong.
–Shades of Brenda Chenowith (Griffiths’ character from Six Feet Under) as Mackenzie begins her life’s “second act” by banging a guy in an enclosed space (this time a car instead of an airport storage closet)…again and again.
–I nearly teared up when when gorgeous outcast (always a hilarious concept) Marina laid her head on Kip’s shoulder on the boat ride back from the evil rival camp (excuse me, Ridgefield Lodge). Sure, he was sitting right next to her and she was probably just tired or bored or on a cheesy TV show, but it was a sweet moment that made me wanna transport myself to the middle of a lake and sigh happily and fall in love.
–Not important at all: Who do you think got to eat those two lobsters they stole? I’m guessing summer lovers Sarah and Robbie (Dena Kaplan and Tim Pocock, who both starred in the Austrailian teen drama Dance Academy along with Thom Green, who plays Kip), as a last hurrah for their relationship before kinda hunky cabin-dwelling young author Miguel Santos comes between them.
–In fact, the best thing to come out of this Camp experience might be this overwhelming desire I have right now to watch all three seasons of Dance Academy. This has been a long time coming.
–Mackenzie’s desire to save the camp strikes me as potentially “Damn the Man! Save the Empire!”-esque once she hits her stride. (I can also hear Empire Records‘ Deb trashing the kids and all their summer camp clichés: “Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior!”)
–Queen Bee blondie Alex haphazardly climbing a tree in search of phantom cell phone service.
–Buzz’s reaction to Kip punching that fratty Ridgefield guy reminded me for a split second of John Francis Daley in Freaks and Geeks. (The character itself, not so much.)
–Meanwhile, during the talent show (SAVE THE TALENT SHOW), Nikolai Nikolaeff was a dead ringer for Dancing With the Stars‘ Derek Hough on an explosive paso doble night. Cole is my favorite character so far. Something about his facial intensity (and obvious crush on Mackenzie) is compelling.
–I could stare at this lonely fun zone on a placid lake all summer. Hopefully not on a TV the whole time — but it’s still paused like this on my DVR and I don’t feel like moving at the moment, so I’ll take what I can get.
Will you continue to train your glass eye on Camp? Do the kids or adults overpower the show? Did anyone figure out what the mean girls could possibly have felt was wrong about Marina’s bathing suit? What are rubbers?