Okay. CBS’ new web series is cute. There, I said it. I don’t hate it. It’s totally not my kind of show, but I could definitely see my mom liking it. In fact she’s emailed me twice about it. Here’s the set-up: four misfits ditch their all-women book club and make their own decidedly less stuffy foray into extreme book clubbing. Or as CBS likes to call it, Novel Adventures. The idea is relatively simple: read a book and then do an activity related to that book (I can’t wait for the Fight Club episode).
Lizzie Williams, played by the saccharine-cute Ashley Williams, narrates the first episode as her husband encourages her to go to a book club she recently joined in an effort to make friends in Los Angeles. She basically catalyzes a mutiny from the stodgy living room book club and with her new friends ends up reinterpreting Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as Cute Boy Gives Wild Women Surf Lessons when the ladies realize fishing maybe isn’t their bag, but the surf rental on the beach might be a bit more their speed. Cute, right? Right. (And yeah, I said cute, so what?)
I have to digress a bit here and say that Lizzie’s husband works at a Saturn dealership and Lizzie packs her Hybrid Saturn with her fellow book clubbers and hauls them to all of their adventures in Eco-friendly style, and why? Because the show is sponsored by Saturn. Whoever the writers are have done a brilliant job of integrating Saturn into the show without me being totally aware that part of what I’m watching is an ad for the company. So bravo to both creators and Saturn for pulling that off and making a show that is nicely produced, well-written and directed.
The second episode gets them into a music studio with Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us, a cultural history book about the women of rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s. Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon are mentioned on the cover, but there were plenty more where they came from. Our women attempt to channel these ladies of rock in their own studio visit with real artist Keaton Simons with a catchy little tune called “Can You Hear Me.” Daphne Zuniga narrates as book clubber Laura French, and has the nice little turn of connecting with her sixteen year old son Miles at the end.
You can probably guess where this is going—each ep will switch narration and point of view to each of the fab four book clubbers. Those not mentioned yet are Jolie Jenkins as Amy Pierson, a “happily” married woman in her thirties in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and the smoking hot Paola Turbay as Joanna Ruiz, who is single, lives with her mother and is too choosey about boyfriends. They’re all kind of Sex and the City-lite, which works for the show.
It looks like eight episodes are scheduled through December 7 with bonus footage and other features to keep you engaged. The formula is solid and could sustain for quite a while if they find a fanbase, which to me would be women from thirty to sixty or so who would certainly find the series a refreshing escape.