tek's rating: ¾

Camp, on NBC
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Before I watched the show, I had strong doubts as to whether I'd like it at all, but I thought I might as well check it out. Because summer series are kind of important to me. And because it has a bunch of seriously cute girls. Anyway, I didn't particularly care for the first episode. Too much of the humor was sex-oriented, for my taste. And for the most part, I didn't find the characters particularly interesting. (Probably my favorite character was Grace, though for the first few episodes at least, I felt like she got too little screen time.) But the pilot wasn't terrible, so I decided maybe I'd give the second episode a try. And I liked it a bit better than the first. And as the season progressed, I guess some of the characters kind of grew on me, at least a bit; I didn't care about them a lot, but I didn't not care. I don't think I ever really liked much of the humor, though it did get better (and not so totally sex-oriented). More importantly, the drama definitely improved over time. Most of the time, making myself watch the show felt kind of like a chore, but not a chore I hated... something I disliked the anticipation of more than the actual doing of it, you know? And oddly enough, by the time the season ended, I felt kind of sad or melancholy about it ending. Which is probably a lot like what real summer camp- or school, or a job, or just about anything in life- can be like. You may not always enjoy it at the time, but when it ends, you inexplicably feel like you're going to miss it.

Anyway, it's set at a summer camp called Little Otter Family Camp. It has been jointly run for years by Mackenzie 'Mack' Granger and her husband, Steve. (And before that, by Mack's parents.) But recently Steve had an affair with a hot young Russian woman named Ekaterina, so now Steve and Mack are divorced, and Mack is running the camp by herself for the first time. Though she does get a lot of help from her handyman and apparent second-in-charge, David 'Cole' Coleman, who is a good friend to her, but also has a romantic interest in her. (She seems oblivious to this, possibly because he's 28 and she's 40-something.) Anyway, she's got plenty to deal with, aside from figuring out how to react to her divorce, and running Little Otter, which is struggling financially. There's a rival, more upscale camp across the lake, called Ridgefield. It's run by a guy named Roger Shepard, who would like to buy Little Otter. Mack doesn't like him, but things get complicated between them; throughout the summer, they continuously vacillate between liking and hating each other. (It gets even more complicated when Mack eventually realizes Cole likes her, so he and Roger compete for her.) Meanwhile, Mack and Steve's 15-year-old son, Buzz, has attended Little Otter every summer of his life, but this year he's a counselor-in-training (CIT). Not that we actually see much counseling (or training) from him or any of the other counselors. (There are of course plenty of kids of various ages running around doing camp stuff, but none of them seem to be of any importance to the plot.) Also, since it's a family camp, there may be parents spending the summer there with their kids, or adults who attend without kids. The only parents of any importance to the plot are a gay couple, Raffi and Todd, who are Grace's dads. (They also have a younger son, who is of no great importance to the plot.) And there's a woman named Sheila, who has a few young kids of no importance to the plot. (She talks about her husband occasionally, but I don't think we ever actually see him.) But anyway, these three parents are friends of Mack's, so they spend a lot of time gossiping with her (and drinking) and giving her advice on her personal life, whether she wants it or not. I'm afraid I never developed too much of an interest in any of the adults, but their presence in the series... well, it had its place.

So... I've mentioned Grace, who is around Buzz's age. I think for most of the season, she was technically a camper, but she spent some time performing CIT-like duties, since most of the campers were younger. She seems like a potential romantic interest for Buzz, though she doesn't seem to like him (because he can say and do some pretty stupid, tactless things). Buzz's main goal for the summer is to lose his virginity, and he doesn't seem to care to whom. Meanwhile, he's made friends with a fellow CIT named Kip Wampler, a loner whose father has forced him to come to Little Otter, for the first time. (His dad leaves right after dropping him off.) Kip (who I would guess is a couple years older than Buzz) also befriends a CIT around his age named Marina Barker, who is hated by a few other girls their age at camp (who are also CITs, I guess), the main ones being Zoe and Chloe. And we eventually learn that Marina has some serious issues with her mother. So anyway, I guess Buzz, Kip, and Marina are all outsiders together. And Kip has a romantic interest in Marina, though she just sees him as a friend. (She's dating a guy named Greg, whom Kip dislikes.) I also need to mention that Kip has leukemia (in remission), which he wants to keep secret from most people at camp, because he doesn't want people treating him differently. (Mack and Cole know about his illness, but no one else seems to.) However, Chloe learns Kip's secret, and takes an interest in him. Because she's into "darkness." So she uses the secret to blackmail him into a secret relationship. Kip doesn't like her, but he doesn't seem to mind making out with her.

The senior counselors at Little Otter are Robbie Matthews and Sarah Brennen, who have been coming to the camp since they were little kids, and for the past several years they've been a couple every summer, but don't see each other or communicate during the rest of the year. So now they're back together, but this summer their relationship gets a bit more complicated. Part of this is because of one of the guests at Ridgefield, Miguel Santos, a writer of whose work Sarah is a fan... and who takes a romantic interest in her. Anyway... Robbie and Sarah both seem like nice people, but of course they're both flawed, and I'm not sure if they really belong together. (Or if anyone on this show belongs together, for that matter.) Oh, also I should mention Sarah hopes to become an Olympic swimmer.

Those are all the characters that need mentioning. I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but there are an awful lot of developments over the course of just ten episodes. By the end of the season, all the plotlines get reasonably well resolved, and in spite of all the drama, there's a fairly happy ending. Yeah, I definitely like how it all ended. And... I guess there's not going to be a second season. I'm not sure it was necessarily conceived as a limited, one-season series. But that's how it turned out, so that's what I'm calling it.


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summer series