Alibi V.15 No.35 • Aug 31-Sept 6, 2006 

Idiot Box

Soaps: The Next Generation

“Desire” and “Fashion House” on MyNetworkTV

When United Paramount Network and The WB closed up shop at the end of last season, uniting their efforts to create the singular “CW” network, it left a lot of television stations pondering their fate. Locally, for example, KWBQ-19 became the new CW standard-bearer. But where did that leave sister network KASY-50, the former UPN affiliate? Out in the cold, it would seem.

Over the summer, though, News Corporation--the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdock of FOX-TV fame--announced plans to create MyNetworkTV, an innovative television experiment featuring limited-length TV series. Starting Sept. 4, KASY-50 will be rechristened My50 TV, one of 165 MyNet affiliates across the U.S.

Currently, and for the foreseeable future, MyNetworkTV only has two shows: “Desire” and “Fashion House,” airing six nights a week. The network is billing them as “nonstop originals that conclude every 13 weeks with a high-intensity finale.” Once the shows are over, they will be replaced by two new ones. This format is inspired by Mexican and South American telenovelas, short-form TV dramas that run for several months at a time. Basically, they’re nighttime soap operas.

MyNet shows will air Mondays through Fridays at 7 p.m., with a recap show on Saturday nights for those who want to catch up or simply “relive all the excitement.”

“Desire” is the tale of two brothers, Alex and Louis Thomas (Nate Hayden and Zach Silva), who open a restaurant in New Jersey with their mother. On their opening night, Louis sleeps with the daughter of a notorious Mafia boss, who burns down their home and restaurant, forcing the Thomas family to flee to Los Angeles. There, Alex and Louis find work at a prestigious Beverly Hills restaurant, where they both fall in love with the same woman, Andrea, the beautiful daughter of the restaurant's wealthy owner. This sets off a chain of events pitting brother against brother and Mob boss against ... um, celebrity chef, I guess.

“Fashion House” spins the story of a beautiful, young housewife who divorces her overbearing hubby and takes a job at the illustrious Fashion House, finally realizing her lifelong dream of becoming a clothing designer. Soon, she’s caught in a tug of war between rival fashion mavens Morgan Fairchild and Bo Derek. Apparently, the show features copious amounts of bitchslapping.

In some ways, MyNet is a bold experiment. The idea of having a TV series come to a definitive conclusion leaves room for innovation. It’s easier to kill off characters, for example. Still, American TV has largely caught up with the innovations of telenovelas. FOX’s “24” is essentially a season-long movie. “Lost,” “Prison Break,” “Invasion” and “Vanished” are a few more recent series that have experimented with tightly encapsulated (and theoretically terminating) storylines. Basically, MyNet is asking viewers to give up virtually every other show on television and watch their network six nights a week. Personally speaking, my TiVo and I aren’t ready for that kind of commitment.

MyNet premieres Tuesday, Sept. 5, with its two shows, “Desire” (7 p.m.) and “Fashion House” (8 p.m.).