The one thing sure to suck the soul out of a television show is a test screening audience. Generally, this group consists of non-entertainment industry professionals, hapless souls plucked from the street, folks willing to waste a few hours of their day because, well, there’s nothing better going on. Naturally, test screening audiences are the most powerful people in Hollywood.
Now you would think the highly paid, generally experienced executives at networks and studios would know from a good television show (or movie, no need to be exclusive here). These folks do not trust their own taste. It is imperative that they find a group of citizens to closely parallel a “real” viewing audience. The funniest show ever produced? If deemed dumb or confusing by the test audience, it will be shelved in favor of yet another reality show.
This is why the story of the probably-about-to-be-resurrected Nobody’s Watching is both a beacon of hope and a cautionary tale. The pilot, championed by NBC executives (though deemed not right for that network’s slate), failed to make the cut for, wait for it, the WB’s prime time schedule. Yeah, you hit rock bottom and then fail? Bill Lawrence, who has spent years hearing about the failure that is Scrubs, created Nobody’s Watching, created the show, your basic parody of the entertainment industry, and then watched it fall by the wayside. You’d think that the networks would have caught a clue from their experience with Scrubs and even Family Guy (staff of which is also involved in Nobody’s Watching).
Rest assured that these connections will not be made.
The premise? Sitcoms fail because they’re bad (this is actually a truth, but also the basis for the show). Our heroes move to Hollywood to make a good sitcom. In the process, Lawrence and his team craft a funny, smart sitcom. Get it?
At least 300,000 people have gotten it. This sort of activity catches the attention of studio execs — some of whom have gone so far as to download the video (which is apparently viral, meaning, yes, we have lost all hope for the term viral) from YouTube. And now there is talk of reviving the show. Maybe the test audience was wrong. After all, 300,000 people seem to understand the concept. What did that test audience know about art anyway?
The show was slipped into YouTube’s hands by an unnamed (but not unknown) source. It started slow, but picked up viewers as word-of-mouth took over. Now everyone is thinking they need to get some of the show — and every producer of wallflower pilots is trying to figure out how one goes about getting their stuff on YouTube. Ah, there’s a comedy: this producer has a great show but can’t get anyone to watch it. If only he could figure out how to get it on the Internet…
- Thanks to YouTube Fans, ‘Nobody’s Watching’ May Return From the Dead
- Nobody’s Watching – Part 1 (do a search for “Nobody’s Watching”, there are three parts)