Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comic Con Analysis for TV Watchers and Wannabes Part Three

Is posted at the new blog (launching officially to replace this one next Monday!)

It is here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Watch List is Live...sort of.

On the new blog. Still being built, but you can bookmark it now. It ain't movin'.

New Watch List for 2008-09 TV Season.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Premiere dates, watch list, fall schedules are coming

Man you guys are impatient! I'm compiling the list now, you know, when I'm not cramming to finish a spec or doing my day job. Of course, you'll have to go to the new blog to find it all, since those things will have their own pages on the brand spankin' new Wordpress do-majigger.

So patience please. Until then, look at Hugh Laurie.

Or Rally Monkey.

Or Bacon Cat.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Comic Con Analysis for TV Watchers and Wannabes Part Two

So, continuing where I left off yesterday, let's talk cable. Cable networks have really raised the bar in terms of their presence at Comic Con. It's completely understandable too. Cable is all about niche programming, finding a target audience and catering to it fully. Genre programming and niche are twins, so it makes sense to go after your potential audience for your genre shows at the Con. The number and type of shows being promoted really expanded a lot this year, and I can honestly say I was exposed to some shows I might not have given much attention to had it not been for their presence at Comic Con. Let's start with basic cable nets first.

By the way, where I can, I'll link to the Comic Con panels for mentioned shows. I'll do the same for yesterday's post, so revisit for the network shows. Bonus points to NBC for putting all of their show panels online!

ABC Family ABC Family has been a staple at Comic Con for a few years, since Kyle XY was a big genre hit for the network. This year they were there to really promote The Middleman and Samurai Girl [Transcript of Panel in Comment Form is here], both shows with young female protagonists who kick butt. Both shows got panels, which were reasonably attended. I think the increased female presence at Comic Con this year helped boost both shows. ABC Family's booth was the same as last year, but I dig it, because they have COUCHES! When you get tired of being knocked around in the exhibit hall, having a couch available to crash on for a few minutes is pretty sweet, and I certainly don't mind watching the TV in front of that couch for the promos for their shows if it means giving my poor tired feet a few moments of rest. The temporary tattoos for "Samurai Girl" were pretty nice, and there was quite a melee for "Middleman" pins (why I'm not sure, but to each his own). Grade: B+

Cartoon Network This year was all about adult swim, as far as I could tell. That's not to say there wasn't some presence for the network at large (Powerpuff Girls 10th Anniversary panel, for starters) but most of the attention was focused on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, (and their search for a live action Carl) Venture Bros and Robot Chicken. The booth must have been really popular because I never got near it. I hear there were some decent giveaways, but I never saw any, except a "Robot Chicken" flyer. I know the panels for the adult swim shows were packed, as was Powerpuff Girls, who I did see in the flesh as they did the voices for some camera crew. That was cool. Grade: B Comic Con Panels online!

Robot Chicken

Venture Bros.

Coming next: SciFi, Spike, G4, FX, Showtime, HBO, History Channel/Discovery Channel(!), BBC America and BET.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Comic Con Analysis for TV Watchers and Wannabes Part One

You've probably seen all of the news smothered over the internet like Smuckers raspberry preserves (yum), and you may have even seen some of the panels.

Now I want to pick it apart and analyze it all. What does all of this MEAN?

The week before Comic Con a little event called the TCA Fall Press Tour happened...not that'd you'd know, because it got a thimble-size of the press Comic Con received. Anymore the networks realize that connecting with fans is as important (if not moreso) than chattering at TV critics and reporters who cover this stuff for a living. Granted, most critics are also TV fans, and it becomes evident as they pick good quality shows to support which just don't get the ratings they need to survive. It happens every year.

Still, getting fans engaged, the kind who go to big events like Comic Con can be "make or break" for a film, and now for TV shows too. Lost set the precedent (though I'm sure other shows have visited before that show launched) for launching at Comic Con and getting fan support early. If the fans like you, buzz builds online and people get excited for the show.

The lesson learned in 2007 was it is not enough to hype the pilot. Too many shows (See: Invasion, Surface, Bionic Woman and Journeyman) placed too much emphasis on the pilot and not on the whole show. The good news, is that for the shows that approach the marketing of their shows with creativity and flair (and let's be fair, we're talking mostly 'genre' shows here), it can pay great dividends. Two years ago Heroes was the belle of the ball. Last year the big buzz was around Pushing Daisies and Sarah Connor Chronicles. All of those shows saw good sampling based in part on their launches at Comic Con.

So what about this year? Who has benefited the most from their appearances at Comic Con. Let's give each network a grade.

ABC presented panels for Lost and Pushing Daisies, both returning shows. ABC hasn't picked up their midseason shows yet, and their new fall shows don't really qualify as 'genre'. Both panels were packed and response was very positive. The "Lost" panel gave away some fun prizes to people who asked questions and showed a short teaser video tieing into the new ARG running this year. They put the panel in the largest room (Hall H) which shows just how much demand there is for the show at Comic Con. "Daisies" also got good buzz going again with some clips for next season (the benefit for returning shows this year is that most have already started shooting at least a couple of episodes, so there was stuff to show). ABC did a good job with their show promotion, though I think "Daisies" could have used a stronger push. Overall, a good job. Grade: A-

CBS had no presence at Comic Con this year. Their only new genre show is Harper's Island which was nowhere to be seen. Viacom makes up for this shortcoming with its Showtime offerings, which we'll get to later. Grade: D

Fox pulled out all the stops for its shows. Not only did the new J.J. Abrahms show Fringe get lots of viral marketing, a panel and a screening of the pilot, but Fox was there to strongly promote Season 2 of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and other returning shows. Offerings ranged from the obvious (The Simpsons, Family Guy, 24) to the surprising (Bones, Prison Break, American Dad. And then there was Joss. Of course, nothing could hold back the hordes of Whedonites who needed their fix of Dollhouse. The panels were all well attended (although Fringe was less full than I expected), the marketing was really great for the fall premieres, and definitely buzz was built for the new shows. I think Fox knows how to promote their genre offerings. Grade: A

NBC After mixed results from their Comic Con promotion last year, I was glad to see that NBC bounced back and charged ahead aggressively. They too presented some unusual offerings -- The Office writers panel? (A dream for us!) But they were in full force for freebies and viral campaigns for Knight Rider, Chuck, The Office, and Heroes. They also did well to give lots of early info on midseason show Kings which got some good buzz and attention at the Con. Disappointments: No Merlin or Crusoe news. Their booth in the exhibit hall was similar to last year, but the giveaways were good, and the Comic Con exclusive merchandise was very popular. Grade: A-

The CW Okay, so I know Supernatural and Smallville were both there, but where the heck was Reaper?? Grade: C- (Kudos to WB for promoting their studio backed shows -- they had the Nerd Herd car giveaway/drawing)

Hard to believe that was just the network presence! Next post: The cable nets, and how does this impact writing specs?

UPDATE: A myriad of panels!

NBC's Show Panels