Monday, September 01, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Gossip Girl,' the CW and critical thinking

Second of today's two columns, in which I riff on the CW's innovative new approach to network/TV critic relations, vis a vis their "Gossip Girl" summer ad campaign, and the lack of screeners for their big new show, whatever it's called. Somewhere in there, I kinda sorta review "Gossip Girl" season two, but only briefly, (and in which I primarily repeat my complaint from the last time I blogged about season one).

18 comments:

Matt said...

I think they're trying to push two angles with the ad campaign:

1. Trying to remove the show from the "teen soap" ghetto occupied by "One Tree Hill" in particular by making it clear there's mature content in the show.
2. At least several of the groups quoted, particularly the PTC and the New York Post, are held in contempt by a substantial segment of the population due to perceived political biases. It's trying to play off of that.

Nicole said...

Gossip Girl must be aiming their ads to pre-teens because the teens would have already seen much worse on cable or the internet. GG is about as risky as Married with Children was in its day and there were parents complaining about that show too. Like all teen shows, it probably has another 2-3 years before the main cast gets college age and it either ends or gets a new cast.

bonitobroth said...

sounds like they're taking the movie studio approach with 48756. don't screen the crap for critics.

which is disappointing, as i was hoping judah and sachs were going to make it interesting. also, what happened to rob thomas' involvement on this?

Anonymous said...

Wow, those grapes were sour, Alan.

Seriously, I don't think the CW has some diabolical plan to undermine the critics. I think their Gossip Girl campaign was actually pretty smart. It's not as if the show had so many amazing reviews to begin with, so taking the negative ones and spinning them to their advantage was pretty clever. And it got people talking in a way a traditional campaign wouldn't have.

With 90210, it's more likely that either a) the show sucks and/or b) they were still reshooting it up until a few days ago and knew they wouldn't have the screeners ready in time. Again, though, not sending screeners out has gotten people talking about the show a lot more than they would have otherwise.

As a network the CW is hanging on by a thread. Can you really blame them for trying something different to get people talking? Or would you rather be inundated with "HIS FATHER IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY!" and "YOU'RE RISKING A PATIENT'S LIFE!" type ads?

Anonymous said...

u funny.

Also, I think (maybe?) it's Jessica Walter, no S.

Living in LaLa Land said...

That was inspired, not using the show title. Loves it!

BTW, is the 07045 in Jersey?

Alan Sepinwall said...

BTW, is the 07045 in Jersey?

Yup. I went to high school there, and was in the same class as the original 90210 kids (after they repeated their junior year, that is).

Alan Sepinwall said...

which is disappointing, as i was hoping judah and sachs were going to make it interesting.

Maybe it'll be good. They at least cast some interesting people. On the other hand, I wasn't crazy about "Life as We Know It," their previous high school drama.

also, what happened to rob thomas' involvement on this?

He bailed when ABC ordered a second pilot from him and he realized he couldn't do justice to three new shows at once.

notjon said...

As much as I've been disgusted by the movie studios and now (unfortunately) the networks deciding that critics don't matter, I have to put a second vote in the "Gossip Girl ad campaign was brilliant" category.

Every day I work in New York is another day I briefly think to myself, "Damn, maybe I should watch Gossip Girl".

Of course, I come to my sense a minute later but still, it's more thought than I've ever put forth for One Tree Hill.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wow, those grapes were sour, Alan.

Hey, at least I didn't request some cheese with my whine.

I'm not saying the CW necessarily has a plot to ruin the TV critic profession -- especially since so many newspapers are doing such a fine job of that on their own. They did, after all, send out three episodes of Gossip Girl for review (though perhaps they were fishing for more billboard-ready pans), and they sent out a copy of their other new show, Privileged (which is decent, though not the sort of thing I'd probably watch twice.

The point of the article was me attempting to write something about two shows where I'm either unable to provide an opinion (90210) or where the network's marketing campaign has announced they'd be happier if I hated the show.

(Which I don't, by the way. I think Schwartz and Savage are making about the best TV version of these books that you could. I just have no interest in watching a show based on these books.)

JasonR said...

The point of the article was me attempting to write something about two shows where I'm either unable to provide an opinion (90210) or where the network's marketing campaign has announced they'd be happier if I hated the show.

Alan, your article (and the above quote) reminds me of the current thinking of baseball umpires. You have forgotten that the game/tv show is not about you. Your tone was that of a petulant child - "But I ALWAYS get a screener before the premier! Waa!". Regardless of why you didn't get to see an advanced copy, you didn't have to say anything other than to say "I don't have an opinion, because I haven't seen it yet". Instead you tried to mock the network, and it didn't work.

You are one of the best TV critics around, but this article feels more like some random internet blogger rant. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Alan, have you seen the CW's ratings? (I know you have.) Trust me, they'll be dead long before your profession will be.

filmcricket said...

I don't think the CW has some diabolical plan to undermine the critics.

Undermine, no. Circumvent, yes. The CW, as others here have pointed out, is by no means the only corporation to have done this, and there are a variety of reasons, ranging from fear of negative press to fear of piracy. It's part of a growing trend and critics are getting it from all sides: networks/studios + cost-cutting newspapers/magazines + an audience that wants all its written content (not to mention the films & TV shows themselves) for free.

Regardless of why you didn't get to see an advanced copy, you didn't have to say anything other than to say "I don't have an opinion, because I haven't seen it yet". Instead you tried to mock the network, and it didn't work.

I don't know how the Star-Ledger's pay structure works, but my guess is Alan had a few column inches to fill and that Ctrl-V-ing "I don't have an opinion, because I haven't seen it yet" a hundred times or so wouldn't cut it.

carolyn said...

that column was hilarious.

clever and funny. :)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, your article (and the above quote) reminds me of the current thinking of baseball umpires. You have forgotten that the game/tv show is not about you. Your tone was that of a petulant child - "But I ALWAYS get a screener before the premier! Waa!".

Hey, I just got home from our town pool, which closed for the season at 6 o'clock. I got an earful of what petulant children sound like, and that ain't what's in my column.

Unlike some other critics, I didn't immediately condemn either the CW or "90210" over the decision. You can look it up. I understood on some level why they might have done it, while at the same time suggesting that it might not create the best buzz.

you didn't have to say anything other than to say "I don't have an opinion, because I haven't seen it yet".

As Filmcricket said, I had a hole to fill, one that's about 900 words long. That's 11 words.

Instead you tried to mock the network, and it didn't work.

I tried to be funny. You didn't think it was funny. Others did. Different strokes and such.

Nicole said...

I thought you were funny and you had a point too. Networks are like movie studios in that they only care about the profit and not so much about artistic value so calling them on shady non-promotional practices is fair game. I don't think CW is going to worry too much about Alan's humourous column

PamelaJaye said...

I think this thread is the closest i'm going to get for "on topic" for this question

each fall (and other times during the season) not only do the networks start to air their new "season" but also, I've noticed, the indies and the cable nets start airing "new" reruns of series they have not yet rerun before.

Is there any rhyme or reason (or date) for this or any way to figure out what's out there in rerunland, other that putting random searches in your DVR and waiting...? (which only works if you know what you are looking for)

TVLand is starting something they say ccaters to people in the 50's and (some other decade) but the only thing that remotely interests me of their new offerings is Scrubs.

FX restarted the Practice recently and SciFi Joan of Arcadia - I found out around episode 4. (Calista Flockhart's Ally crossover set off one of my searches, my roommate watches SciFi a lot, but not enough for me to catch on before ep 4)

DVRing gets rid of a lot of channel surfing, gets rid of a good amount of knowing what cable networks are airing... not good for them.

PamelaJaye said...

oh my goodness - it's Rachel Greene. and the evil one at that!
I'm guessing she's supposed to be Andrea's daughter...