The first season of the Canadian online soap opera, Victoria & King, aired in 2005 and quickly built up a small cult following. It is the work of three producers, Eric McKenzie, Laura Oliver, and Mark Oliver, and the entire production is intentionally, and delightfully amateurish. McKenzie is a produce farmer, Mark Oliver auditioned for, but was not offered, a small part in the American soap, Guiding Light, and Laura Oliver was quite simply, a great fan of the genre. The anticipated second season was slated to begin September 2006, but after delays and other commitments, was postponed for good.
The first ten lengthy episodes of campy, satirical action are set in the small town of Hartley and its denizens have all the trappings that make television soap operas the phenomena they so often are. There’s the “blowhard” Mayor Edward Hartley, a scheming bakery owner, Mr. Havelock, and, naturally, a local nurse, Emma Charles, who may or may not have stolen organs from the dead to save an ailing brother. If this sounds a little over the top, and possibly inane, that is exactly the point. Though the town in the series will not be found on any map, it seems to have been inspired by the locals hometown of Brockville, Ontario, on the border of New York state.
Any reader who has ever attempted to pick up a soap opera midseason (or mid-episode) will know that it rarely takes long to get acquainted with the characters, and that once that familiarity is established, something unexpected and bizarre will probably shake that trust. Victoria & King is no exception. Still, though episodes are long – roughly 30 minutes – viewers will get the most enjoyment out of following the series from beginning to end so that they can fully appreciate all the obligatory cliffhangers and unexplained mysteries.