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Sitcoms Overseas

I’m almost proud of how little I’ve been blogging recently.

I was a big fan of NBC’s show Joey starring one of the actors from Friends. It was predictable fluff (much like Friends), but the acting and the writing was firstrate. And Matt LeBlanc who plays Joey is just one of the funniest sitcom actors I have seen.

The show was cancelled in the middle of the second season. I just discovered that they had 7 episodes remaining which were already produced. But instead of showing them, they just kept them.

The irony of that is that the following summer ratings were terrible everywhere and repeats were on all the time. They could have shown these episodes during the summer when ratings were low anyway.

Now I don’t know how this happened, but all seven episodes are downloadable through bit torrent. All seven!

Apparently, the show was NOT cancelled in Europe, India, Latin America or Australia, so the show kept running in these countries. And people made copies, so now they are sharing them.

This is a case where you realize the constraints that major networks have to work under. If a show doesn’t meet a minimum target audience or ad revenue, it gets canned (whether or not it’s good). On the other hand, foreign markets should make it easier to find an audience–albeit an overseas one.

It’s hard for some show to find a market and easy for others to find one. Here in the US, the best  comedy My Name is Earl also has superlative ratings. On the other hand, so does Two and a Half Man–which is a clumsy vulgar boorish show. And so does Deal or No Deal, a mindless money gameshow. How can you expect consistently high quality if audience loyalty is so fickle?

In other news, podcastters Sam & Jim have made a major break in their careers; they’ve been pitching a series based upon a Stephen King novel.  That’s great, and these guys can turn anything to gold. But as they themselves admit, a deal can be nixed due to bad timing, or something a decision-maker not being amenable to a certain idea at a certain time. As they noted, they are pitching this series to almost all the major networks. They have agents and Stephen King’s agent and producers and programming directors in the room. Finally doors of opportunity have started to creak open, and yet they are worried about paying health insurance. These guys, you see, haven’t received a paycheck in months; as one of them said, you can’t bring your hopes to Wells Fargo.

Yes, it is frightening. On the other hand, people in creative fields know the sheer uncertainty of their life’s ambitions. Nothing can be taken for granted. Even their closest friends and family secretly wonder whether they are delusional. By definition, most creative projects fail to gain recognition or even to be produced. By definition, most people think any one individual project is crazy. Then, when there is success, the naysayers suddenly seem to forget their doubts and suspicions…until the dreamer starts planning his next project.

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