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.