The internet has changed the way that we view television. I first noticed the increased presence of the ‘net’ while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in its relative infancy of seasons.
By the time the series had moved up a gear or two and was entering its third season, my daughter started buying Buffy ‘fan-zines.’ The first thing I noticed was the magazine’s inclusion of several different sites that were forums for fans.
If you logged onto the net, you could access these ‘fan-sites’ and either read the current thread of discussion about the program or enter the debate. The latter choice could be a little disconcerting.
While reading the intense and sometimes heated discussions on the forum I noticed that a few of the more fervent fans would get excited enough to give a figurative ‘bitch-slap’ to folks who disagreed with them.
I, for some reason, thought that these ‘fan-sites’ were indicative of the “Buffy-verse” alone and therefore rather unique. But the internet was a great place for fans of many different television programs to meet and discuss or even bitch about the latest episode that they’d just watched.
Certain programs listened to these fan groups and acted upon the fan feedback. Lost, for instance, listened when fans relayed that the introduction of two new major characters in the program had resulted in characters that they despised. Producers acted quickly and killed off these two new characters in the same season that they were introduced.
Going back for a moment to the verse of Joss Whedon, it is imperative to mention the huge internet support for Firefly when it was unceremoniously axed by its network. The fans of Joss’s fledgling western/science fiction show rose in mass to show support for the program and to petition the network for a reprieve.
While the fan protest wasn’t enough to save the beleaguered show, it was enough to convince both Joss and the studios that an audience existed for a film. And thus Serenity was created to give the loyal fans some closure for a program that they’d grown to love.
Independent film producers learned very quickly of the power of the internet in areas of marketing their products and drumming up interest in upcoming film releases. Paranormal Activity is one such “internet” driven film but it was by no means the first in a long list of films that would use the net as the perfect advertising tool.
The American re-make of The Grudge (Ju-on) used the web to show ‘diaries’ of the actors and set up a site with a ‘tour’ of the grudge house and a fictional account of one of the producers.
Apart from certain network affiliates I have not seen any increased activity across the board for web ‘snake oil publicity’ with the exception of The Walking Dead. AMC vigorously utilized the internet in the upcoming months to the pilot air date of The Walking Dead. They continued the vigorous net campaigning well into the second season.
Of course I’ve not mentioned the new “webisodes” that have taken the net by storm. The hugely popular The Guild, brainchild of Felicia Day is just one of many. Joss Whedon also did a webisode series which coincidentally had Felicia Day in a major role, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was another hugely successful venture into this new medium.
I have postulated before about how YouTube was becoming the ‘new’ television and now believe that it’s not just YouTube but the internet that is ‘becoming’ television. Either by replacing it as another medium of entertainment or influencing the direction that existing shows are going.
Think I’m exaggerating? Just check out the first related article, Dr. Horrible is going to be on television in October.
- ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ Makes its Television Debut Tuesday, October 9 on the CW (tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com)
- Joss Whedon’s ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along’ Starring Neil Patrick Harris Heads to CW (celebuzz.com)
- ‘Dr. Horrible’ Sequel Coming Soon: Recapturing The Horror Of Joss Whedon (splashpage.mtv.com)
- Joss Whedon’s ‘Dr. Horrible’ Web Series Picked Up for TV (tubefilter.com)
- Top 10 Joss Whedon Characters (houseofgeekery.com)