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Television, the Aughts & I – Part Five – “Late to the Comedies”

“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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This Ain’t Pandora’s Box – The (Non-)Impact of the Jericho Screener Leak

Have you ever felt that your nose was just a faucet that wouldn’t shut off? It’s a bizarre and rather grotesque image, but “snot faucet” most aptly describes my weekend experience. It was unpleasant, sure, but by the end of the weekend it was mostly gone. There are some leaks, however, that are somewhat more volatile – these are the leaks that are, for better or for worse, not gone by the end of the weekend.

I speak, of course (As if a runny nose opening could lead to anything else), about the fact that the three-episode Jericho screen sent to critics over the past few weeks has become available online through less than legal means. Now, I’ve written on this subject in the past in terms of pilots, and I want to focus on one of the things I emphasized in that instance:

“On the one hand, uptight network executives are probably concerned that their premiere ratings might go down as people watch the show ahead of time, or that bad buzz will take down the series before it can even get started. To those executives I make the following case: premiere ratings don’t matter, and the audience watching these shows online will not penetrate the casual mass of fans who make Two and a Half Men a comedy sensation. What you want to be doing is creating a fan base, something that this actually helps far more than it hurts.”

While I still believe everything I wrote there, the situation gets trickier in the case of Jericho. With Jericho, the premiere ratings do matter, as returning to middling returns will all but sink the show’s chances of gaining a season three if the initial cancellation hasn’t already done so. And Jericho already has a fan base of internet fans, they worked tirelessly to save the show back in June. So the problems facing a new show aren’t quite the same as the problems facing Jericho’s second season, and thus there is some concern that this could sink the show’s chances.

And I’m here to tell you that the answer to that concern?

“Eh, not really.”

And here’s why.

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