Update – Okay, I swear this was sent to me after I posted this article. Nice to know other right-minded people think the same as I. Firefly season 2 project – Read it here.
My television, why has it forsaken me? It is finished… Well, it is done. After many a hopeful rumor, posting, ranting, petitions, and even a marathon coming your way on the opening night of the Winter Olympics. Even after all of that, Arrested Development will be gone. At least Fox is giving us fans the final four episodes and not making us wait until the DVD is released. Believe me when I say, I am completely Zen with this excellent show’s demise. I am even Zen with the fact that Life According to Jim has been renewed for yet another season. Thankfully, shows such as Arrested Development are no longer lost to the broadcasting ether once removed from the airwaves. The greedy suits bless their evils hearts, know they can squeeze just a tad bit more blood from that canceled stone. They do so with TV on DVD (which I kinda’ like saying). As fans, we know this just another profit-generating scheme, but we don’t care. We’re just happy to be able to watch these gems over and over again. We like being able to pop in our favorite episode, laugh, and then wonder why no one else got the joke. Wonder why something that is so brilliantly written and performed is removed so callously, while Surreal Celebrity Fearful Idol House is still running? Then, as we remove the disc and lovingly slip it back into its case, we find ourselves mumbling. “You know, I totally pay for this show. Each month, send me a new episode until the writers genuinely run their creative course. To my door, every month. I would pay for that”. We shake our head and put it back on the movie rack, wondering why no one else has thought of that.
Why has no one else thought of that?
Better yet (as I am certain someone else has thought of it). Why has no one attempted that? As Tivo makes personalized viewing a reality and network television taking greater and greater hits from cable niche marketing, the concept of made-to-order programming seems more plausible. While I don’t want to be the person who claims that television is a dying medium. I do see the potential of television, as we know it, completely changing. Not that this is a bad thing, indeed, this seems to be the natural progression that decades of demographic marketing created. Network marketing has made the concept of a show that applies to all people a nigh impossibility. It only makes sense that direct marking and broadcasting of programs be the next step in television programming. It makes sense for most entertainment venues to choose the direct path. However, this simply doesn’t work when you have national sponsors wanting to reach the most people during their pre-paid commercial timeslot. It is simply impossible to keeps both sides of the equation happy. Unless you are willing to change the way the game is played.
DVD can do that.
For the longest time, a straight to video production meant your movie was poorly made and wasn’t worth the money and effort of a theatrical release. Over time, as the independent filmmaker grew in exposure, this stigma lessened. However, the straight to video feature is still scarred by the Seagals, Henriksens, and Zierings of the film world. (It should be noted that your friendly neighborhood Geek loves Lance Henriksen, but let’s be honest with ourselves). This too is changing, thankfully. It would also appear that Hollywood is taking notice at the power of the home video market beyond larger percentages of a theatrical release. A show like Family Guy is the perfect example. A program that Fox didn’t believe had an audience due to the painfully outdated Neilson ratings system. I am curious to see what the sales numbers in the recently announced straight to DVD Futurama films will be. Will large sales result in a televised return of the poorly treated Futurama? Truthfully, I hope not. Instead, I would rather other studios take notice at the power of the straight to DVD audience and design programs accordingly.
Shows you subscribe.
Perhaps that is the next logical step in the future of entertainment. How much would you pay for your favorite show to continue once the networks canceled them? $5 or $10 a month for an original hour of Arrested Development mailed to your home once a month seems like a good deal to me. I would gladly pay as much per month in cable rates if it meant I received a handful of shows that I knew I enjoyed. As one who is consistently let down by the majority of network programming, this is the only way for me to feel like I am getting my monies worth. Programs that are considered genre shows regardless of their quality or dramatic styling like sci-fi and horror could greatly benefit from a subscription driven service. Sure, you would have some form of sponsorship. However, just like the program you pay your monthly dues to, these sponsors would be custom fitted to your (and like minded audiences) likes. Inserts, promotions, and even the unfairly hated product placement could aid these programs. (Yes, product placement, if handled correctly has a perfect place within programs).
There are a vast number of very talented people out there. People with stories to tell. Stories that can make us think, laugh, cry, or shriek in terror. It is unfortunate that the current system prevents most of these ideas from ever seeing the light of day. Strange that filmmaking, so long the province of billionaire media conglomerates, became a more accessible medium then television. Strange because television, in theory, broadcasts on airwaves we the people supposedly own. Could direct subscription based programming be the key to getting these yet undiscovered tales to a wanting audience?
I’d sure like to find out…