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)
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:
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.
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.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all. I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for this year – and no, those things are not TV related (I do have a life outside of the box), but in the spirit of this blog – here’s some entertainment for your turkey filled day.
After 8 seasons and and 177 episodes, House is slated to air its last-ever new episode this Monday at 9pm on FOX.
Part of me is like ‘Hooray!’, after all, it seems as if the series has really run out of steam and new diseases to diagnose. But as a fan of the series, I’ve run the gamut from casual viewer to obsessive viewer to bitter-ender, and at this point I’m rather invested in the endgame.
House was probably the last show I ever watched casually. Sometime in the second season I picked it up week to week and got ahold of the season 1 DVDs in order to catch up. Through seasons 4-6 I watched House obsessively. Any of my college roommates can attest to the ridiculous amount of time I spent watching the show live, on DVD, and in reruns on Bravo and the USA Network. I can still name most episodes by title and the disease in which the patient is suffering from. (When you’re in Grad School anything that isn’t course work or thesis writing is a fun and welcomed distraction.)
Even last season I watched the show live, prioritizing new episodes of House above anything else on at the same time. But this season was different, I only cared in that I wanted to know how it all ended.
Earlier this week I read an article from the AV Club entitled What do we want from a TV finale?, which in turn really made me think about the upcoming House sendoff. Now the article was more focused on serialized shows with complex narratives, like Fringe or Lost, but it still made a few interesting observations about how viewer expectations and whether or not a series remains true to itself even in that finale hour dictate the perception of a ‘good ending’.
At its core, House has always been a procedural show, just with more sarcasm than anything airing on CSB. For a typical procedural I would be satisfied with the ‘life goes on’ ending, in which we know everyone is alright and will continue on doing what they’ve always done, just unseen on TV. The season 3 finale of Lie To Me is a great example of this – while they didn’t exactly get the chance to write a ‘series’ finale, the last episode acts well as one, but I’ve written about this before.
For House however, I don’t buy this scenario as a fitting ending. The character of House has never been okay on a day-to-day basis. It’s unreasonable and unsatisfactory to assume that he’ll go on working at PPTH, abusing his current team, and saving people after almost killing them a few times. House takes risks and does stupid things, he isn’t fufilled by the status-quo. Normal is not what he is looking for. After all, normal is overrated.
Some shows go out with a bang. Finales with a crazy plot twist or abrupt ending like Life on Mars, The Sopranos, or St. Elsewhere can be both mind boggling and frustrating. House has tried to employ the crazy in past season finales (hallucinations, bus crashes, more hallucinations, mental hospitals, crane crashes, and car crashes) with varying results so my fear is that this type of ending might feel more contrived than an organic result of what’s come before.
And then we have the House finale title: “Everybody Dies”. I’m not taking this literally of course, House is not Lost but the show has long debated about the afterlife and deals with death on a weekly basis. House himself has either almost died or been clincally dead a few times. And in addition to their patients, the characters on House have lost loved ones (Foreman’s mom, Thirteen’s brother, Chase’s dad, House’s dad) as well as coworkers like Kutner and Amber. Thirteen herself is dying and Wilson, as of a few episodes ago, is too. It’s evident why FOX has never promoted House as the feel-good show of the week.
Given the current story line its not unbelievable to assume that it is Wilson who meets his demise in the finale, but where does that leave House? He admitted out loud that he needs Wilson in his life and that would certainly leave the show on a somber note. Would David Shore really create a finale in which the main character is more tormented than when we first met him? Although its perhaps inline with the morose tone that perpetually fuels the series, I don’t know if that is the finale I want to see.
I suppose in the case of House its difficult for me to resolve my conflicting feelings of wanting to see all of the characters be okay with my knowledge of the House-verse and understanding that the finale episode is not entitled “Everybody’s Okay” for a reason.
So House fans out there, what do you hope or expect to see on Monday night’s finale? Are you looking for House to find happiness, go out with a bang, deal with death, or are you one of those fans still secretly hopping to see Cuddy again?
*It was Lupus once, episode 8 of season 4, “You Don’t Want To Know”.
I don’t hate House’s new team. In fact I think I probably harbor far less polarizing feelings than the majority of people voicing their opinions online; however, I still miss Chase, Cameron, and Foreman. Its not that I necessarily prefer seasons 1-3, but when I re-watch any of the older episodes there is just a different vibe to them, one that the newer seasons seem to be lacking. House MD‘s season six provided the brief reunion of the original team and after watching those few episodes I think I finally realized why I liked and missed them so much. For me, it’s their group dynamic.
Before Chase and Cameron were married and even before they all went their separate ways at the end of season three, they were friends. Even though Foreman may have disagreed (2.18), compared to Taub, Thirteen, and Kutner they at least acted friendly towards each other. I blame this on House. The original team was hand selected by House unbeknownst to each other; but Taub, Thirteen, and Kutner along with all the other candidates spent months all vying for only three positions. Fierce competition and fear of being fired kept them from bonding and looking out for one another.
For instance, Kutner and Cole formed a friendship, but Cole willingly put Kutner on the weekly chopping block (4.8) in a failed attempt to secure a spot on the team for himself. Besides House’s games, other circumstances surrounding the new team also caused a less than fun work atmosphere for us to watch each week. Unlike Chase, Cameron and even Foreman in the early seasons, Taub and Foreman didn’t see diagnostics as a learning opportunity but as their only means of practicing medicine and making money. For them it was not their first choice and while it may have seemed like Kutner enjoyed every moment of it, his suicide (5.20) clearly demonstrates otherwise. And then you have Thirteen; at first she was extremely secretive and closed off and then after receiving her Huntington’s diagnosis she became understandably wrapped up in her own issues.
In seasons 1-3 of House MD we watched three young doctors experience a crazy internship under a brilliant diagnostician and learn to practice medicine in a whole new way. And through it all they had each other, but that all seemed to change with the new team. Instead, we saw four people—already unenthusiastic about their lives and jobs being abused by House on a weekly basis.
However, since the ‘musical chairs’ antics of season six I remain refreshingly optimistic about the situation. Taub and Foreman have more or less come to terms with their positions at PPTH, Chase makes Foreman less dull, Thirteen and Taub have been friendlier since Kutner’s death, and Taub has provided some much needed comic relief. And although I didn’t like Cameron’s exit, the new team, comprised of Foreman, Chase, Taub, and Thirteen, seems to be a satisfying mix of old and new.