Monday, June 07, 2004

So, about a year ago I get this thing in the mail, inviting me to a "Television Preview." Supposedly showing a couple of pilots to gauge audience reaction. I figured that while our feedback would be pretty much ignored, it would still be kinda cool to see a couple of unaired pilots.

So I go. First we take a survey on our preferences for stuff like dishwashing liquid and diapers, followed by a drawing for same. Feh. Finally they get to the pilots.

First up is this gawdawful thing called Soulmates, about a past-life regression therapist whose latest client was her own lover in a past life. They fall in love, and out of love, and back in love, and back out of love, in the course of the half-hour (halfassedly edited down from an hour). There's also something in there about some kinda secret organization he belongs to--it's a pile of shash, with about four different genres thrown together badly. Lots of historical "irony" with lines like, "no way would Tojo attack a major american airbase on a sunday morning!" Feh.

Second was a pilot shot in--I kid you not--1990. City, starring Valerie "Rhoda" Harper. They explain to us that VH is looking for a new vehicle and wants to get a sense of what audiences want to see her in. It's pretty standard workplace stuff, a few good lines, a few good characters, nothing we haven't seen before.

This is followed by more marketing and demographic surveys. A LOT more.

So, all in all, there were worse ways to spend a couple hours. Better ways too.

This week Shelly's dad got an invitation to one of these, so he invited me along. Why not, I figured, maybe I'll get to see a couple more unaired pilots.

So, first up, after the first survey about laundry detergent and diapers? A little something called Soulmates. Followed by City, starring Valerie Rhoda. And the exact same marketing and demographic surveys, right down to the part where the MC says "and we're going to break with our standard format to ask you some questions..."

So, basically, the pilots are irrelevant. Hell, they probably found them in some studio dumpster. The only purpose the pilots serve is (A) some pretty colors to pacify the sheep in between the commercials, and (B) because no one would come if they were honest and said "please come take a marketing survey."

Despite all this, I'm actually curious to go to one more of these, just to see if they have any other shows they show, or if they're going to keep playing Soulmates and City until the tapes collapse to dust, which looks to be imminent. Just know, if anyone ever asks you to watch a pilot called Soulmates, run away. And maim that person with a harpoon.

A big fucking harpoon.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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