Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Insert Clever Title Here

What's in a name? If you called "Lost" by any other name, would it still not be cool?

There's currently a contest run by Philip Seymour Hoffman's brother, Gordy, about coming up with the best title for screenplays. I haven't bothered to read the details of this contest, because it's a dumb idea.

Titles are specific to the particular movie or TV show. They don't have to be ingenious or clever, but they do have to give you an idea of what it's all about.

To wit, remember the Nic Cage-Bridget Fonda romantic comedy a few years back? The original title was "Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip," a clever, memorable title taken from the headlines of the event that inspired the movie. What was the movie called in the end?

"It Could Happen To You." What does that tell you? Nic Cage could have slipped in the bathtub and sued the bathtub maker in that movie, and the same title would apply. It tells you nothing. But some marketing genius at the studio thought making that the title would be a good idea.

Remember "Someone Like You?" Probably not. It's another romantic comedy, this time with Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. It's a terrible, forgettable title. The original title was "Animal Husbandry," after the book the movie was based upon, which is at least more memorable and descriptive.

Best ever title for a movie?

"Ghostbusters." I'm totally serious about this. 1) It's memorable. 2) It tells you exactly what the movie is about. 3) Its whimsical nature lets you know it's a comedy. 4) It's short and catchy, especially when it becomes a hit song.

Pith is usually appreciated in a title, which is why TV shows have short titles like "Friends," "24" and "Lost." Not "Six good-looking buddies who hang out in a coffee shop all day" or "How a guy can save the world 16 times during the span of a day despite being burdened by a moronic daughter" or "Why can't I be stuck on a tropical island with Evangeline Lilly?"

Which brings us to the subject of today's post, "Knights of Prosperity" (ABC, 9 p.m.) This new comedy from ABC has gotten a lot of good buzz. Of course, "Knights of Prosperity" sounds like another name for the Salvation Army, and gives you no clue as to what the show is about.

The original, clever, witty title was "Let's Rob Mick Jagger," which tells you EXACTLY what the show is about (which I guess from a marketing standpoint is somehow a bad thing.) Donal Logue leads a group of misfits who decide one day to rob the Rolling Stones' lead singer, and the rest of the season is planned around the crime. It's not like someone is doing something bad to Jagger, since he is an executive producer of the show and appears in the pilot.

But then, ABC's marketing department isn't exactly hitting them out of the yard these days, are they? I'm not even talking about not putting me on their DVD list.

No, I'm talking about putting the network's most promising comedy on at the absolute worst time slot of the week, against Fox's "American Idol" and CBS' rapidly rising "Criminal Minds." The timeslot is so tough that ABC moved one of its most highly rated shows, "Lost," back to 10 p.m. Yet the same network is willing to sacrifice one of its most promising new shows, one that has yet to find an audience.

It doesn't help matters that "Knights" is being paired with "In Case of Emergency" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), which has gotten panned by most critics.

So, enjoy "Knights" while it's around. Let's hope Mick Jagger gets robbed before ratings reality sets in.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Wow, just the third new day of the new year and already a bunch of new episodes.

First and foremost, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) returns on a new day. Let's hope the switch helps one of my Top 20 shows on TV.

The aformentioned "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) also is back.
Finally, I mention this because I have to, not because I want to, but the new CBS reality series, "Armed and Famous" hits the air tonight at 8 p.m. Witness the likes of Erik Estrada and Latoya Jackson as they train to become cops in an Indiana town. Already, the show has had a few lawsuits filed against it, so hopefully it won't be on the air that long.


Anonymous said...

what did you think of Dirt?

Phillip Ramati said...

Didn't care for it. I'll mention it in tomorrow's posting.

Zodin2008 said...

I didn't bother to even watch "Dirt" and my wife saw 10 minutes of it and hated it. End of story.

As for "Knights" a few comments.

First, the show was hilarious...just finished watching it. And though the new title is kinda lame and it's a ratings long shot, I completely understand why they stopped calling it "Let's Rob Mick Jagger" because the show has changed its premise: it's now going to periodically shift what celebrity they plan to rob so you aren't just stuck a full season on them unsuccessfully trying to rob Mick.

Still...if George Lucas would have given permission, it would have been more hilarious if they had gone with one of his other gang's suggestion in the episode and called their group and the show, "The Jedi Council". That's funny.