San Diego isn’t about movies! It’s about TV!

Variety previews SDCC with a boffo headline:

H’w’d courts nerd herd
Nets hope to capture fan fervor at confab


However, the story goes on to point out for that this year’s show, studios are stressing their TV offerings:

All the major networks have significant plans for the confab, along with cable stalwarts like Sci Fi Channel, USA, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

“In the last few years, TV’s participation has stepped up a notch,” Comic-Con marketing director David Glanzer said. “There’s a lot more sci-fi and supernatural — ‘genre product’ — on TV right now.”

NBC is planning a push for its superhero skein “Heroes,” while CBS/Paramount will screen its new series “Jericho.”

Sci Fi will tout competition show “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?,” on which it’s collaborating with Stan Lee, as well as breakout hit “Battlestar Galactica.”

Comments

  1. Both the pilots for Heroes and Jericho are good enough to have made me interested in watching a second episode. Both of the shows also have their self-destruct button built in – they are trying to build on the TV shows as novels trend that was made popular by BSG, Lost and Desperate Housewives. As the ratings for Desperate Housewives and Lost shows (and a lesson that SHOULD have been learned with the X-Files in the 1990s), you can only screw with an audience for so long….at some point they will lose interest.

    All I can say is that the producers and writers not only have written the pilots and a few episodes so far….stories like that should be required to turn in the FINAL EPISODE as well before going into production.

    You know, like J.K. Rowling has had the final chapter of Harry Potter since the early 1990s. She KNOWS where the books were headed towards, and it will show (I hope) when one reads the entire series after the final book has been released.

  2. Thomas, I think ratings slides for Lost and Desperate Housewives reflect both shows’ drop in quality in their second seasons. The big problem with serials is that after the second season, every episode is a jumping-off point but not a jumping-on point.

    DH (and Veronica Mars) fit in a different category than Lost and The X-Files which have a mythology that the show revolves around. DH has an extended story arc that promise beginnings and ends (typically focused on the season’s timing) while the later is trying to tell a story arc within an entire series.

    The drop in quality for DH is due to an uninspired story arc for the second season, while Lost’s drop in quality has come from throwing too many balls in the air and leaving too many behind (see various fans’ rants on the questions left forever unanswered by character departures, plus Lost’s ensemble cast isn’t as balanced as it used to be). With series that revolve around a mythology, the danger lies when you slow down your pacing to fill a longer series (which often requires the characters to become too stupid to make progress, bringing bad storytelling to the slow pacing).

    I think serials can work, you have to make the audience feel like they’re getting a good story and not passing time until the next revelation (over at Television without Pity, it was a running gag that much of Lost’s second season was 57 minutes of passing time and 3 minutes of good stuff). Season long story arcs are a good route, since the audience gets some sort of payoff (at least, they do if the arc is good).

  3. Oh, I totally agree with you on the point that serial storytelling can be great fun, Lyle. I’m a big advocator of what I call the TV novel: one season (perhaps two or three) worth of stuff that has a beginning, middle and end. The only problem is the economies of scale within the TV industry. If they have a hit show, they are too chicken to end it before it jumps the proverbial shark.

    Lost has already jumped it, so has Desperate Housewives. I reserve judgment on BSG so far.

    The point I made is still valid, though. I had some dealings with The N last year to create a serial show, and the first thing they asked me was: Can we stretch it to at least five seasons? They were very nice people, but I had to tell them I could give them either six half-seasons of great TV or five full seasons that would bore people after the first two. We didn’t quite agree on what way would be better :)

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