Thursday, October 25, 2012
Democracy in Action?
Tomorrow night, (Friday October 26th,) Something interesting is going to happen.
Oh, it's nothing of any great importance in the grand scheme of things. In fact, you would probably have to be a bit of a media geek like me to get off on the event the way I am.
Before I get to it, a bit of ancient history to serve as background...
In the 1970s, it was a common practice for the television networks (all three of them) to air unsold TV pilots as specials or "movies of the week."
This served two purposes.
The network could recoup some of the cost of the pilot's production by collecting ad revenue for the one time broadcast. At the same time, ratings and viewer feedback sometimes led to the network picking up the show for a full order.
Lots of successful shows got their start this way.
"Columbo," "McMillan & Wife," " Charlie's Angels" and "Diagnoses: Murder" just to name a few.
Others didn't fair so well. "Dr. Strange," "Daredevil" (decades before the Ben Affleck movie) and "Salem's Lot" got one shots that didn't make the cut.
We were, mercifully, spared "David Soul: Vampire Hunter."
It was kind of cool to be able to get a look at what the networks were considering and to have a small say in the fate of potential shows.
For some reason, the practice fell by the wayside in the 1980s and has never made a comeback.
Instead, the nets dump millions of dollars into pilots that live or die by small focus groups or the whim of the network suits.
We will never know if last season's "Wonder Woman" pilot was any good.
Or they dump even more millions into 13 episode orders, only to risk a debacle like "The Bionic Woman" or "Charlie's Angels" reboots.
Back to the current subject...
About a year ago, NBC announced, with much hype and fanfare, the Bryan Fuller/Bryan Singer reboot of "The Munsters." "Mockingbird Lane" is a deconstructionist re-imagining of the classic sitcom for the "Once Upon a Time"/"Desprate Housewives" generation.
Even though I am more of an "Addams Family" guy, myself, I have always had an affection for the family of Herman and Lily. I find the idea of reinventing the Munsters as a darker, more subversive comedy to be very intriguing.
At some point, NBC did, too.
So they invested a hefty amount of money into the pilot.
When it was delivered, the risk averse "suits" at NBC got cold feet. (No doubt, still reeling from the aforementioned "Bionic Woman" fiasco.)
But, rather than write the whole thing off, NBC will air "Mockingbird Lane" tomorrow night, as a Halloween special. And, just like in the good old days, the show's future is in the hands of the viewing public. If people tune in and like it, production of the series will commence.
If no one cares, or the show just sucks, NBC can move on, knowing that the people have spoken.
Small "d" democracy in action!
Personally, The Blog is rooting for it's success. Not that I have any personal investment in said success. I don't. But, I like the premise. I am a fan of the work of both Bryans. (Fuller gave us the brilliant but flawed "Pushing Daisies." Singer was a driving creative force behind "House, M.D." and directed "The X-Men" movies.) I am also all in favor of supporting any series that is actually shot here in Los Angeles. ("Mockingbird Lane" is literally filmed only a couple hundred yards from the place that the original series was shot, on the Universal Studios lot. Go local production!)
So, check it out tomorrow night. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. I'll give you my review after I have seen it!