When faced with the world of 21st Century Television, different networks do different things to bring audiences to their shows. In the past couple of weeks we’ve learned that FOX will continue to ruin the baseball playoffs; ABC wants to disable the fast-forward button on DVRs and CBS is going to advertise on food.
Lame lame lame. (Actually, I recognize that the FOX/MLB partnership is shrewd from the marketing standpoint; it’s just that I’m a lifelong baseball fan who recoils in horror at being faced with Tim McCarver, those dopey “Sounds of the Game” and sitcom stars in box seats every goddamn October until 2053 or whenever it is.)
So just when you’d figure that NBC would also come up with some kind of dumbass stunt or idea of their own, they actually go in the complete opposite direction and do something very very smart.
Let us speak, for a moment, about a new phenomenon: the Internet. As some of you may recall, it slipped quietly into the room way back in, what?, the seventies? For many years, it cruised along quietly, picking up fans via discussion groups and bulletin boards. Somewhere along the line, they added pictures and clickable links and sound and motion and more users than you can imagine. All of this is the stuff of legend and only included to make a point: the Internet is not this brand new thing that just showed up yesterday!
In a thinly disguised promotional piece about the upcoming Studio 60, the Los Angeles Times tries to focus on the rapid-fire response of the blogosphere to every bit of news about the show. Hello? We’re bored out here. It’s summer and they don’t seem to be rerunning anything good but The Office. You can only watch “The Injury” so many times, you know?
It’s no secret that all of us at Medialoper love The Office. The program is brilliant on a consistent basis, and NBC has been innovative in extending the show’s reach to the web with blogs, MySpace profiles, and online video. In many respects, The Office is the embodiment of the type of media convergence that we cover here on a regular basis.
There’s just one annoying problem that keeps The Office from being perfect in every way. I almost always have problems watching the video extras on The Office website. At various points in time I’ve tested just about every combination of operating system and web browser known to mankind, and most of them fail.
While other TV shows will be taking their summer vacations, much of the cast of The Office will be participating in a series of webisodes that will be available from NBC.com this summer. According to an NBCU press release, there will ten eps: a story arc centering on a missing $3000, and the attempt to locate it.
And in keeping with this season’s emphasis on the secondary and tertiary characters, the webisodes won’t have most of the big names: Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak. Those people will be getting to take actual full vacations. Sounds more and more like a real office, doesn’t it?
Conspicious by his presence is Rainn Wilson, which causes us to make a prediction: Dwight done it. No doubt to finance the purchase of a of a brand-new Prism DuroSport 6000.
That, my friends, is a million downloads of a television show — the U.S. version of The Office, which in its second season, has come into its own, both critically and commercially.
It’s always great when quality and popularity intersect, especially when they intersect in a show that nobody really gave a chance to succeed. So how did the U.S. version of The Office get to be so great? In a long interview with Television Without Pity’s co-founder Wing Chun, writer and actor B.J. Novak (he plays Ryan, the temp) holds forth on such topics as:
- Living in the shadow of the Ricky Gervais version
- All of those downloads.
- Improvisation on the set.
- Michael’s man-crush on Ryan.
- Why their move to Thursday nights makes sense.
Nothing, alas, on the Prism Durosport. Nevertheless, from my standpoint, it’s beginning to look like The Office is going to end up being the greatest cover version of a stone-cold classic since Husker Du’s “Eight Miles High.”