I’ve hesitated to write about the effect COVID-19 is having on the world of television. After all, worrying about TV shows while so many people are getting sick and even dying just seemed completely disrespectful.
But TV is what I write about, and you read this column for my opinions about what’s good and bad on television. And there is no question that COVID-19 will affect both the good and bad on TV for the foreseeable future.
While I had a chance this past weekend, I watched an episode of CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Since “B&B” was the first of the soaps to go back into production after the pandemic forced a shutdown, I figured it would give me an idea of how things could possibly look for all shows due to COVID-19 precautions.
I’m not going to lie to you. It looked weird.
At the beginning of the episode, “B&B” supercouple Ridge and Brooke (Thorsten Kaye and Katherine Kelly Lang) reunited. Normally, this type of scene would be full of powerful hugs and passionate kisses. But this reunion featured no shots of the couple onscreen at the same time, only individual shots. And the kiss was a small peck from Ridge as we saw the stiff, unmoving back of Brooke’s head. Also in the episode, Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) awkwardly flirted with the ER doctor who saved her life while seemingly sitting in a different ZIP code. And when the show dropped the huge bomb that Ridge had secretly married another woman in Las Vegas, the scene fell completely flat because none of the four principals in the scene were anywhere near each other — not even the husband and wife who were witnessing the huge revelation.
The one-shots and distance are, of course, due to the need for the actors to stay six feet apart. And the stiff kiss? That is most likely the result of Kaye kissing a doll rather than Lang, although “B&B” is also using the real-life significant others of its actors as doubles in intimate scenes.
As I said, it’s weird. I’m sure that primetime shows with larger budgets can find a way to make it work better than “B&B,” but how much better? Can these new rules work for all shows and allow them to produce new episodes? I honestly have no idea.
So much of life as we know it has been affected by COVID-19, and that includes the television we watch. And while that can be sad, it’s important to remember that the most important thing is for the casts and crews of our favorite shows to stay safe. We can handle a little weird in order to make that happen.