by Jake Ten Pas
Portland has been all a-Twitter about NBC’s new supernatural/fairy-tale-based thriller Grimm filming in town, and with good reason. Given Oregon’s abyss of joblessness, we’ll take any employment we can get. Secondly, for those of us who are tired of unimaginative reality TV, the recent slew of horror, fantasy and sci-fi themed options is like a breath of fresh air straight from an alternate dimension. Whether it’s “American Horror Story,” “Walking Dead” or “A Game of Thrones,” I’ll take it.
But here’s the thing. Whoever scheduled “Grimm” at NBC pulled one of the classic jerk moves in the history of TV programming. He, she, they or it put “Grimm” on at the same time as two of my favorite network shows of the past five years, “Supernatural” and “Fringe.” Obviously, this is no accident. NBC wants to cannibalize the other two, steal their fans and leave the shows to die by the side of the road like zombie victims. If this theory of TV scheduling was, at one time, effective, I sincerely hope it won’t be anymore. I wish this not because I don’t want to see “Grimm” succeed, but rather because I think the notion of trying to kill off other shows that share a common fan base is an outdated, unnecessary, and just plain unwise way of going about the business of ca
rving out a viewer niche.
In an era when more people are watching TV at a time of their choosing via DVRs, the Internet and DVDs, why is it necessary to try to gouge out your opponent’s eyes? As a proud geek, I can say that I make time in my week for a multitude of shows, and all you have to do is not A) Make it more difficult to watch your show than it has to be, or B) Piss me off by taking on one of the shows I’m already loyal to. Sadly, the NBC execs have done both. By scheduling “Grimm” at the same time as two of my favorite shows, they’ve shown their total ignorance of the way DVRs work.
While some DVRs will allow you to record three shows simultaneously, most standard ones issued by cable companies will not. With my DVR, we can record two shows and watch a third, but because these shows are on Friday night, I’m never at home to do so. Thus “Grimm” gets the boot, and the only way to watch it later is to hunker down in front of our tiny computer screen and watch it on Hulu. The week that the pilot of “Grimm” aired, NBC did something really smart by rebroadcasting it on SyFy. This not only exposed the show to a wider audience, but it also found a loophole in the DVR dilemma by allowing another time slot at which my DVR could find it and record it. Why they quit this strategy after week one is anybody’s guess.
After watching the first two episodes, I can say that the show potentially deserves better. While it owes a big debt to institutions such as “Supernatural,” I was instantly intrigued and wanted to watch more. Which leads me to wonder why NBC doesn’t try to incorporate some truly social elements into its marketing campaign for “Grimm”? Sure, it already has a Twitter account, but the account basically does nothing but promote itself all day long. Instead, why not subtly court fans of “Supernatural” and “Fringe” by putting your show on right before, or on an entirely different night, and then tout the similarities between them?
A truly social presence means giving props (or recognition) to others while saying what you have to say. It isn’t just about riffing on how rad you are. And in case you think that I’m saying “Supernatural” is doing any better of a job on Twitter, I’m not. That show’s Twitter account is full of the same self-aggrandizing nonsense, which is totally opposed to the self-effacing humor the show specializes in.
This is a new age for TV, in which people can watch what they want when they want. Your petty little network ploys and bickering can only get in the way of our enjoyment and support of an array of shows. With the advent of Apple TV – and who knows how many other technologies coming down the pipeline – it’s time to play nice and cultivate an audience of fans hungry for great stories that you can all draw from.
Quickly, before I leave this rant be, my coworker informs me that he can watch any show directly from NBC’s website via his iPhone used in conjunction with his Apple TV. Even if I simply had a newer model of TV, I could hook my computer up to it and watch “Grimm” on the big screen despite NBC’s attempts to make it as difficult as possible for me to do so. Perhaps this issue is indicative of technological growing pains we’re going through as a culture, particularly as they relate to TV. No matter how specific you want to get as to whose fault it is, I fall back to the basic position that it’s a network’s job to get its programming to me, perhaps more than it ever has been before.
So, if you’re reading, NBC, I’m here, I’m weird, and I’m ready to watch “Grimm.” Can you help a geek out?