All Along The Watchtower

films . videos . television

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nobody's Watching picked up by NBC

A couple of years ago, Scrubs scribe Bill Lawrence created a show called Nobody's Watching. It was the story of two guys, best friends united by their mutual love of sitcoms. Lamenting the sad state of sitcoms today, they decide to create their own and move to California to do so. They end up with a development deal with the WB and the show was supposed to chronicle their ups and downs of putting together the best sitcom ever.

In a way, it kind of sounds a lot like the season four arc to Seinfeld.

The show never made it past the pilot stage, despite having some good buzz.

At this point, you'd think the show would be dead and gone.

But now we've entered the new Internet era. The pilot was posted to YouTube and became something of a success. 300,000 people watched the pilot and enough people liked what they saw to tell a friend or blog about it. (I watched the pilot and it is pretty funny). The show had potential, but alas it seemed it would never be realized.

Well, someone at NBC figured that a show that was creating its own buzz and fanbase might be worth giving a shot to. NBC has ordered six episodes of Nobody's Watching for a mid-season berth on the network.

Now, networks spend a lot of money each year trying to find the next big thing that the American public is going to like and embrace. Does the success of Nobody's Watching mean that the networks might try to find new ways to get some direct feedback on pilots and ideas in development? Would you want to watch a streaming episode of a new show and give feedback on it? Would this lead to better shows or just more of the same?

In an interesting turn of events, the failed CW pilot Aquaman showed up on I-Tunes this week. For two bucks, you can see what might have been.

I do wonder if the CW and Warner Brothers (who produced the show) are hoping for some kind of viral marketing and buzz for Aquaman similiar to what has happened here with Nobody's Watching. If there is a positive response to the pilot and a clamor for more, might Aquaman be green-lit for mid-season or next season?

Also, might we be seeing the start of a revolution on content delivery? If people are willing to pay two bucks per episode of a show and you get enough paying customrers, might the networks suddenly be left out of the equation? If the end user can fund the show either by buying it on-line or having it delivered on demand to a DVR, would this be a viable way to produce and distrubute a show? Also, if a show were to go this route, would it be free of the network demands on it in terms of standards and practices?

On the flip side, how hard might it be for the creators to still achieve their vision of the show if the fans feel an even greater sense of ownership of the show since, by golly, we paid for it.

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