October 15th, 2007:

NBC Got It Right

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I’m a complete sucker for sitcoms. Even stupid ones make me laugh. Yes, I can distinguish between a good one and a horrible one, but like I said, even most horrible ones make me laugh.

Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for Lois. She really loves to laugh, and there are some sitcoms that can really set her off (in the positive sense), but she can’t tolerate stupidity, even if the aim of that is just to get you to laugh.

That puts us at odds. There are a number of shows that I enjoy, that she can’t stand, that I totally understand why. Enter the DVR. I can record those shows, and watch them at some point when Lois isn’t interested in watching TV.

I try fewer new shows than I might otherwise, just because I know I’ll be watching them alone. This year, I decided to try Chuck (on NBC) and Bing Bang Theory (on CBS). I set the DVR to tape both, and we left for our normal trip to Zope.

When we got back, I saw three episodes of Bing Bang Theory, but only two of Chuck. I realized that since I was now taping (how quaint, I meant recording) most shows in HD, even though I have a 320GB disk, I filled it up. The first episode of Chuck got erased automatically.

Some shows (Pushing Daisies for example) go down much smoother if you see the pilot episode, where they set the entire premise. Chuck seemed like that would be the case.

A quick search on Google found the above link to the show instantly. Sure enough, they offered full episodes online, for free. There are certain things that I don’t do, even though I can afford them. For example, there’s simply no way that I would have paid $1.99 to download the episode from iTunes (if that were the only place it was available).

Watching the episode on NBC was quite pleasant, their player is pretty good. I also had to spend 30 seconds a few times during the show to have an opportunity to view Sprint ads. While I didn’t select any of the ads, I was certainly well aware that my viewing pleasure was being sponsored by Sprint, and I had no problem with that at all. Of course, I happen to be a very happy Sprint customer, but that’s besides the point. 😉

I enjoyed the episode. Actually, I enjoyed the premise more than the actual episode. There were a number of weak moments in the episode, but I’m interested enough to watch the two I’ve recorded already, and if those are good too, I’ll watch the rest of the season. So, NBC got a viewer for the show by making past episodes available online, for free. Even if you assume that I will fast forward through every commercial that sits on my DVR, I sat through the Sprint sponsorship online (better than nothing for them!), and while Nielsen doesn’t count me, if they collect anonymous stats from FiOS, they’ll know that I record Chuck, which will count toward their viewership.

I still haven’t watched any of the Bing Bang Theory episodes, so I don’t know if I’ll like them.

For an example of a show that I’ll watch, that Lois won’t, you can check out Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton’s new show, Back to You (on Fox). We were both interested in watching this new show, as we loved Frasier (Lois, especially). I liked Everybody Loves Raymond. Lois didn’t, but she appreciates Patricia Heaton (we also saw her live on Broadway with Tony Shaloub).

Anyway, Back to You qualifies as an incredibly stupid show, that is filled with cheap laughs. The key word (for me) is laughs, cheap or otherwise. I definitely laugh out loud at a number of the lines and situations, but everything about the show is just downright stupid.

So, kudos to NBC (perhaps others, but that’s the only one I’ve needed and tried so far).