Thursday, November 09, 2006

Web-tastic!

As TV and the Internet synergize more and more, network executives are finding all new sorts of ways to cross-promote the two platforms.

Tonight is a perfect example. NBC will show a brand-new episode of "The Office" at 8:30 p.m., and then put a "producers' cut" version of the episode online immediately after, full of bits that were cut for time or other reasons of the regular broadcast.

Frankly, though I understand the reason for doing this -- every industry seems to be obsessed more about the Web than its regular products -- frankly, it seems like too much work. TV should be about flipping on a channel, or at worst a recording device, and watching and enjoying the episode.

Viewers shouldn't have to hunt after hidden scenes or producer's cut or anything of that ilk to enjoy that week's offering.

And if NBC is going to offer any Web content, it needs to make its site more user-friendly. Still trying to find those "Kidnapped" episodes, guys.

Of course, if there is one series worth hunting down, it's TV's best comedy, "The Office," which faces a major plot landmark tonight with the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin closing. How the plotlines should unfold the rest of the season based on this should make for interesting viewing.

Speaking of "The Office," I read a story yesterday about a host of British shows that are coming across the pond to be adapted into American shows.

I think in general that's a horrible concept that fails ("Coupling" "Cracker") both dramatically and ratings-wise more often than not ("The Office" being the exception that proves the rule.)

I already knew that David E. Kelley was going to destroy my beloved "Life on Mars" for ABC. (Anyone who watches the U.S. version of this instead of the BBC America version is no longer allowed to log onto this site.)

Now I see versions of "Footballers Wives," "Little Britain" and "Viva Blackpool" are also in pre-poduction, despite their quintessential Britishness. I mean, c'mon, "Little Britain?" Seriously?

Of course, these days, TV execs are looking for ideas anywhere. After all, "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 9 p.m.) is based on a telenovela and has been re-imagined in other countries around the world.

SPEAKING OF WEBS: Tonight marks the debut of a two-minute trailer for "Spider-Man 3," which will air between the end of "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "Shark" (CBS, 10 p.m.) It also appears on other CBS/Viacom properties around the dial, such as MTV.

ANOTHER SPLIT: Last night's "Lost" isn't the only show about to take a long break. Newcomer "Jericho" will end its fall run on Nov. 29 and not return until Feb. 14, 2007. (Nothing celebrates Valentine's Day like shows about the aftermath of a nuclear war.)

Honestly, I don't know what programming genius came up with the idea of shelving hit shows for more than three months, but they belong in the same circle of Hell with the guy that invented automated telemarketers.

Fox started this to moderate success with "Prison Break" last year, delaying the second half of its season to coincide with a similarly paced show, "24," which runs without a break in the winter. Fox was able to get away with it because "PB" proved compelling enough for viewers to stick with it, despite its absurd plots (making it a perfect companion of "24").

"Lost" is at a critical juncture, losing viewers while its main competitor, "Criminal Minds" has made big gains. Once again, I say ABC had better have hit the size of, well, "Lost," in its new show "Daybreak" or this is going to go down as the dumbest idea in TV history.

I'm not a fan of "Jericho," but CBS seems to have a solid freshman hit on its hands. So, why kill the momentum?

EDIT ADD-ON: By the way, I should have mentioned already at this point how good the "Lost" fall finale was, which makes it even more frustrating that we have to wait three months.

****SPOILER ALERT****

SKIP DOWN IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE

OK, YOU"VE BEEN WARNED

Eko's death a week earlier makes a bit more sense dramatically now, for a simple reason.

One of the problems with TV shows in any genre is that the characters seem immortal. We know Capt. Kirk will survive for next week's show, which is why the guys in the red shirts always got killed.

When a character is being killed off, it's usually well-known. It's announced on the Web or in the press that an actor is leaving a show, which means the possibility of his or her character being killed a possibility. The viewer has time to steel himself.

When Eko was killed last week, it came out of the blue and therefore was a jolt to "Lost" viewers. Also, since he was among the show's most popular characters, it meant that anyone could die on the island at any time.

So there was very real dramatic tension Wednesday night when Sawyer faced imminent death. There was a decent possibility that the guy could pull the trigger, because "Lost" has established no one is safe. A decade earlier, a viewer watching "Lost" would say to himself, "Oh, they aren't going to kill Sawyer!" and be correct. Bravo, "Lost!"

OK, YOU CAN GET BACK TO READING, NOW

THURSDAY'S BEST BET: "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has shown more consistency than any other new series, and while it has advanced its storylines at a reasonable pace, it's still not too late for new viewers to jump in tonight and catch up.

Green Arrow continues to get a big spotlight on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) while its companion show, "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) is having one of the best sophomore seasons on TV right now. As much as I was upset to see the Winchester boys' dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) get killed off, I'm enjoying newcomers Ellen (Samantha Ferris) and Jo (Alona Tal). Horror queen Linda Blair guest stars in tonight's episode as a cop.

3 comments:

Zodin2008 said...

Enough already with the "24" bashing--you will continue to be on an Island for a show that everyone else who watches it loves to death. And considering you've watched "24" for 5 consecutive seasons, they must be doing something right.

I have really gotten into "Jericho", kind of like "Invasion" last year it started slow but the mythology has kept me hooked. The characters need more fleshing out and there are some wooden ones, but in particular, I have been surprised by how effective Skeet Ulrich has been as the lead. However, I didn't realize that CBS was pulling it as well for about 12 weeks. Yikes.

That being said, CBS has a lot more cushion these days then ABC for pulling a show. CBS could run a 1 hour Drama about gun toting, militaristic, forensic nuns, and it would get a 15.2 rating. ABC is doing OK, but do not have the plethora of hits that CBS does and "Lost" has already seen declining momentum.

The good news for me is that I will be able to watch a lot more Basketball and movies I have saved in January and December.

Phillip Ramati said...

What can I say, I like shows with a certain element of believability in its plotting.

When 24 returns in the winter, I'll post my thoughts on the willing suspension of disbelief and how shows like 24 and Prison Break fall well, well short.

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