January 16, 2012 · 4:02 pm
The Perils of the Extensive Post-Pilot Preview
January 16th, 2012
It is no longer uncommon for networks to post pilots online in advance of their premieres, with FOX most recently using this strategy to help launch New Girl to some very strong initial ratings (which have since that point slid considerably, but remain fairly solid). It gives the shows increased visibility within an online space, turning savvy consumers (those who will find it on iTunes, or Hulu, or OnDemand) into an additional marketing segment who will put the word out just enough that those 100 million people tuning into the Super Bowl, and tens of millions who will watch The Voice for two hours before Smash premieres on February 6th, will hear whispers of the show before it’s plastered throughout those NBC broadcasts (and, as Mike Stein pointed out on Twitter, a single person who has seen and enjoyed the Pilot at a larger gathering could spread the word quite easily).
Like many others, I sat down with the Smash pilot via iTunes this afternoon – I had not seen the pilot when it was sent out to critics last Fall, so I was more or less seeing this in the fashion that NBC intended. The difference, though, is that I’ve read a lot about this show, and have seen enough trailers to understand its basic premise (and the basic beats of the pilot) more than the average viewer. As a result, while I would say that the Smash pilot is well-made, and there were parts of it I quite enjoyed (mostly surrounding the musical numbers at the heart of the story), I didn’t get that thrill of discovery that you ideally want to have with a television pilot.
NBC isn’t particularly concerned about this, either: while they’re playing coy with the musical numbers themselves, they included an extensive preview of the remainder of the season at the end of the pilot download, providing viewers with a surprisingly comprehensive overview of what is going to happen in the show’s first season (although it is unclear just how many episodes we see scenes from). It’s a move that’s not entirely common in this day and age, but it’s a move that I find eternally frustrating as someone who tries to avoid spoilers at all costs, particularly with reality shows like Project Runway or Top Chef where the basic structure is already so apparent.
The question becomes, though, why a show that does seem to have a strong serialized component (represented by the behind-the-scenes soap component of the series) would be so willing to reveal their cards before the show even begins. While I don’t know the actual answer to this question, I want to suggest (while offering some basic impressions of the drama, and some spoilery details for those who haven’t watched it or the preview that followed) that NBC is admitting up front that watching Smash isn’t going to be about surprise so much as spectacle, mirroring my own experience with the pilot and charting an intriguing if flawed course for the series moving forward.
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January 27, 2010 · 3:41 pm
The Apple iPad is not a television, but it wants to be one.
Of course, you could say the same thing about the iPod, and the iPhone, and the Macbook, and the iMac, and the AppleTV (Which is, of course, a small media player that hooks up to your TV as opposed to an actual television). The fact of the matter is that nearly every Apple product, by nature of its connection with iTunes TV downloads, wants to position itself as a replacement for your television (or your cable box). And the iPad, you could argue, is the closest the company has come so far to creating a device that bridges the gap: with a 10″ screen and wireless portability, the device offers respectable size and versatility to be able to sit on the train, download last night’s episode of Glee, and enjoy the ride.
However, the question on my mind is whether the iPad is anything more than a large iPod, and whether the problem plaguing efforts to expand television viewing en masse towards other platforms has nothing to do with size or usability and more due to habit (or problems with the distribution model as a whole). I think there’s a compelling argument that the iPad could offer new ways for people to experience the internet (especially its news capacities) “on-the-go,” and I think positioning the machine as a more portable, more usable netbook is intelligent. However, in terms of the medium I tend to spend the most time with, I don’t know if the iPad would actually change how I want to experience television, even if its price point means that I might end up purchasing one eventually.
I’m no tech writer, but some TV-specific thoughts after the jump.
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December 17, 2009 · 8:00 am
“Late to the Comedies”
December 17th, 2009
[This is Part Five in a six-part series chronicling the television shows which most influenced my relationship with television over the past decade – for more information and an index of all currently posted items, click here.]
Flipping through the three channels I got using my rabbit ear antennas in my dorm room late one night (okay, early one morning), I stumbled across a very snowy episode of television. In it, a group of office employees organize an “Office Olympics,” which ends up both funny and quite sweet, and I wanted to know more about this single-camera comedy.
Following internet chatter, I heard of a cult-favourite show that my only memory of was my confusion at its victories at the Emmy awards. Fan response was overwhelmingly positive to the point where my very credibility as a television viewer was in jeopardy if I didn’t join in for its upcoming third season.
Although no one I knew actually watched the show, I heard word of a multi-camera comedy with some recognizable faces that was slowly building a cult following of its own with what it called a “Robin Sparkles,” and since I was wrapped up in a “Save this Show” campaign for a different show at the time I figured I should see if another bubble show might be worth getting behind.
A decade ago, my only recourse in these situations was to find out when the various shows (which, for the unawares, are The Office (US), Arrested Development and How I Met Your Mother, respectively) aired and just pick up wherever they happen to be, hopeful that some day reruns could fill in the gaps.
However, we live in an age where I was able to catch up with twenty episodes of The Office to be up to date a mere week later, and where I marathoned two seasons of Arrested Development to be able to join the Bluth family in progress, and where I spent the summer before HIMYM’s third season learning what a Slap Bet was and watching Barney Stinson own the Price is Right. As a result, I became a vocal supporter of all of these shows, getting in on all of their jokes, despite having been late to the party with every single one of them.
And I’ll admit right now that I probably broke a law or two doing it.
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Filed under Television The Aughts & I
Tagged as Arrested Development, Comedy, Decade, Decade in Review, Downloads, Entertainment, HIMYM, How I Met Your Mother, Hulu, iTunes, Television, The Office, Torrents, TV
December 10, 2009 · 1:48 am
Season 1.5: Three Questions Producers Need to Answer
December 10th, 2009
When we watch a television show as viewers or as critics, we want to believe that our opinions matter. This is not to suggest that we desire to control a particular story, by pushing it in one direction or another, but rather that how people respond to a show is capable of giving the producers some idea of how their show could reach either its widest audience or (for us critics, at least) its fullest comic and dramatic potential.
And yet, for Glee, the voices of fans and critics have seemed to fall upon deaf ears, as some of the common concerns (about the over-produced musical numbers, about the inconsistency between episodes) have remained staples of the show throughout the season. Now, again, this isn’t inherently a problem (it’s their show, they can do with it what they want), but it is important to acknowledge that this was not about ignorance: rather, the show finished filming over a month before the show started in earnest in September. It was produced in a bubble, the writers learning as they went along with only the reviews and reaction towards the pilot to guide them (and, even then, they had produced quite a few episodes before it aired in May).
As a result, when Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan head back to work in early January to start production on the back nine for the show’s first season (which I’m choosing to dub Season 1.5 as opposed to “Volume 2” or something silly like that), they will have with them the internet’s collective response to the show’s first thirteen episodes. And, for me, the big question now is quite simple: what the heck are they going to do with it?
After the break, I’ll offer my thoughts on where I feel their focus should lie, and why it doesn’t all line up with my own selfish desires for the series going forward.
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Filed under Glee
Tagged as April, Back Nine, Brad Falchuk, Critics, Entertainment, FOX, Ian Brennan, iTunes, Jane Lynch, Jessalyn Gilsig, Lea Michele, Musical Numbers, Overproduction, Reviews, Ryan Murphy, Season 1.5, Sue Sylvester, Television, Terri Schuester, TV, Volume 2, When does Glee Return