The Art of the TV Promo | Memorable & Spoiler-Filled TV Trailers

The Art of the TV Promo

How some people manage to watch an episode of something live and then not stayed tuned for the promo is beyond me. I need those few extra seconds of whatever I am watching and always make sure to set my DVR to run a minute or two late so I don’t miss anything, which includes the ‘next time on’ portion of my program. Even when I’ve watch TV online I’ll seek out the show’s promo immediately after.

But there is a real art to making TV promos and trailers. Of course a TV show’s genre is going to dictate the hook or the tease, but sometimes I really feel like less is more.

For episodic and procedural series, I get it, networks need to show something crazy in order to keep the casual viewer coming back for more, but for serialized series, I’m going to assume that viewers will be tuning in again and again no matter what airs after the credits. (Spoilers Below)

TV Promos Set the Expectations

I’ve got a theory that most TV promos, and movie trailers for that matter, are going to make something look better than it really is. After all, 30-60 seconds is not enough time to really highlight flaws.

But with that being said, I do think it is possible for a promo to oversell how incredible the next episode will be. In fact, the more an episode becomes a ‘must see’ or ‘can’t miss’ I become weary of what I am about to see.

From my experience, ER is the most notable repeat offender of setting unrealistic expectations, especially in its later seasons:

Should TV Promos Tease or Spoiler?

Maybe the oversell is unavoidable, I mean they are meant to create hype, but spoiling big plot points is not. In fact, it’s my biggest pet peeve with TV promos – Is it really necessary to give away a major twist or character death just to ensure viewers will return?

And I’m not talking about the ones that allude to an upcoming ominous event, I’m talking about ones that flat out say someone is going to die:

 

Much like ER, as House M.D. aged it began relying on more and more ridiculous plot twists and similarly crazy promos, but I do have to give them props for this more-subtle preview for “Simple Explanation” (5×20), the fifth season’s infamous Kutner episode.

Next Time On…

I don’t want this blog entry to only be a rant about TV promos, so I figured I’d also share some of my favorites:

Fringe promos were, and are, some of the most creative previews I’ve ever seen. To check out more of the series’ standouts I recommend reading E! Online’s interview with Ari Margolis, the mastermind in FOX’s special ops department.

The following Smallville and House M.D. promos are also effective, but for me they are more memorable for their choices in music:

 

So what’s your TV promo pet peeve? Do you even watch promos? If so, are there any previews that standout to you, either for their excellence or absurdity? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Fringe: Be A Better Man Than Your Father

Final Season of Fringe

Only six episodes of Fringe remain, which means the story of Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Astrid is quickly coming to a close. Yet I still have no idea how its all going to end (and that’s a good thing).

While the main plot point of this season is that of the Observers and the slow demise of humankind, the real storyline at the core of Fringe has always been the relationship and journey of Peter and Walter Bishop. It was after all, Walter’s scientific meddling and love for his son that pushed him to the end of our world, and into the next.

His actions became the catalyst for the hundreds of fringe events we witnessed over the last five seasons, but as we’ve watched his relationship with Peter grow, it’s hard not to sympathize with his earlier choices. But if we are talking about science here, actions have reactions and ever since the Bishop family reunion it’s been obvious that Peter and Walter’s motives have been irrevocably tied to the events depicted in the episode “Peter” (2×16).

Walter let William Bell alter his mind in order to to take the edge off of his ‘mad genius’ self and Peter has always put others first, most notably when he stepped inside of the machine at the end of season 3 in order to stabilize the dueling universes.

Peter & Walter Bishop – Like Father Like Son?

Even more telling, is how much Peter has lived by the Greek phrase, “Einai kalytero anthropo apo ton patera toy”, which translates to “Be a better man than your father”. In the episode “A New Day In The Old Town” (2×1), Peter explains to Olivia that his mother used to tell him that every night before he went to bed.

And up until the last few episodes I would say Peter has been making good on his mother’s request. But Peter is Walter’s son, and when his daughter Etta is killed by the Observers it doesn’t take long before Peter throws reason out the window and turns to science to exact revenge. In a hauntingly creepy scene Peter brutally removes the tech from a captured Observer and implants it into himself, completely willing to let go of his human side in order to defeat the enemy.

All the meanwhile, Walter fears that he is starting to become more like his old self as his mind straightens itself out, but he truly believes that his family ties to the core group along with Peter’s love will keep him from losing the humanity and compassion that he’s gained.

So here we are, just past the halfway point in the final season with roles reversed. Last Friday’s episode “Five-Twenty-Ten” (5×7) ended with a beautiful yet heartbreaking series of scenes (set to the music of David Bowie) showcasing just how close to full circle we have come. But can Walter prevent Peter from making the same mistakes or is Peter, and all of mankind in this case, doomed to fail?

It certainly will be interesting to see what J.J. Abrams and co. have in store for our favorite father/son duo. While I don’t expect a happy ending, I’d like to see one of these characters complete the epic journey they’ve been on, whether its for redemption or revenge. Fringe bids our universe goodbye with a 2-hour finale on Friday January 18th 2013.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Welcome To The Show: Theme Songs & Opening Credits

A while back I found an impressive TV theme song medley video on YouTube; I recently came across it again and thought I should share it. After all, sharing is caring. The video is a mash-up of popular TV theme songs – all performed by one guy. Check it out:

So yeah the video is pretty awesome, but it also makes me think more about the importance and function of a TV show’s theme song and opening credit sequence.  I really find it a shame that so many new shows are going the way of boring title cards. There’s nothing like rocking out, singing along, or geeking out to a show’s opening.

Take for example a show like Fringe. It’s opening credit sequence does much more than display names of the cast and crew; it also lets viewers know which universe or decade the episode is taking place in. I am especially fond of their 1980s version:

Likewise, each episode of Jericho cleverly conveyed clues about a character or current plot via Morse code:

And any time I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer I can’t help but launch into an air drumming session to my now-favorite Nerf Herder’s song:

Other fun or unique openings I’ve come across include Bill Lawrence perpetually apologizing for Cougar Town‘s name and Community‘s altered dungeons & dragons version as well as Abed’s Christmas intro. I also really love the look and sound of the Friday Night Lights opening sequence. I suppose I should also make some mention of The Simpsons since they’ve managed to come up with tons of new ways to get everyone on the couch each week, a pretty commendable feat even if you aren’t a fan of the show.

What are other top theme songs and openings for past and present shows?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Reddit

Marathoned: Fringe

A quick confession … I’ve never gotten into any series created by JJ Abrams. I know, I know, there must be something wrong with me to have never been a fan or at the very least a frequent viewer of Felicity, Alias, or Lost.

I did try, they just didn’t click for me and the same goes for Fringe when it first premiered. In fact, my distaste for Fringe ran so deep that I was excited when House moved to Monday nights just so I wouldn’t have to see the promos for Fringe throughout the hour.

Fringe – You Had Me at Alt World

I suppose I didn’t really have a solid reason to dislike the show, so when my roommate turned the second season premier of Fringe on last fall I was just lazy and interested enough to stay on the couch. She sort of filled me in during commercials breaks and I intended to keep watching but it soon became clear that I needed to see the first season first, but unfortunately I was rather busy with school. So my roommate and I made a deal. If she watched Firefly and Serenity I would watch Fringe. Well she held up her end of the bargain and I remained ‘busy’. Then the deal became if the show gets renewed for a third season I’ll watch. (I’ve been heartbroken by FOX before, a lot before.) So after May sweeps and the renewal announcement, I finally kept up my end of the bargain.

So let me first say, I was wrong.

I can admit that now and also that I’m addicted to this show. I’m eagerly awaiting its return this Thursday at 9pm. But just because I’m super excited for the new season and would classify myself as a fan doesn’t mean that Fringe is perfect by any means.

Honestly had I not know where the second season was headed when I finally put the season one disc one in my DVD player I don’t know if I would have been able to stick it out. Much of the first season reminded me of X-Files, a show I wasn’t entirely fond of, and Dark Angel, a show that had its own set of flaws. It was difficult for me to connect with any of the characters and each episode was so stand alone-y in a formulaic show kind of way. It’s not that I don’t like shows with formulas, I love House MD and still watch CSI but everyone kept talking about how awesome the mythology was and it just took a really long time for it to be built and become integral to the series and each episode’s plot.

I’m not going to go into episode details, plenty of other sites recap, but I do want to comment on what I perceive is the most fascinating aspect of the series – the threat of the two worlds colliding.

Maybe I’m a pessimist or a cynic but I’ve always enjoyed books, movies, and TV shows with a bleak outlook on the world. Not all need to involve an apocalypse of some sorts but it certainly can’t hurt to include one. Buffy and Angel’s world always ran the threat of one, Jericho started with one, Dollhouse failed to prevent one, and Fringe is facing one. It should be awesome. I think it was in one of San Diego Comic Con interviews that the cast members discussed how the goal of this season was to create two worlds, both dynamic and morally grey. The ambiguity created should make for a fascinating season three. I can’t wait!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on Reddit