In one of it’s versions, the joke involves Aristotle Onassis on his honeymoon with Jackie deep in Africa. Night after night Onassis cannot satisfy his new wife in bed as a large negro swings a large fan to cool them. Eventually Onassis asks the servant to try his luck with his bride while he holds the fan. Afterwards he asks Jackie: “Was that better, my love?” to which she responds extremely positively. Onassis turns to the negro and declares: “See? THAT is how you need to fan to get results!”
Some time ago I wrote a summary of all the reasons a televisual show about technology is a tough nut to crack. And then a few days ago I got asked again whether I would be interested in doing a TV show. As I mulled the question over in my head I wondered: where did all those ideas about new TV shows go? Have I just lost interest? Is the fact that I don’t watch any television affecting my motivation? Is TV, that same medium that I so enjoyed producing for, suddenly dead inside me?
And then last night I watched episode six of The Pacific. (My summary of how war film and television shows have developed is here.) The Pacific started out as pretty bad television really, confused in its targets and only of interest to veterans and their kin for historical purposes. At the end of episode five, the producers kicked in with the sort of power that Saving Private Ryan had. Big time. But that isn’t what interested me so much at this point. (Though I did make a point of keeping those ten minutes to show my eldest son as an educational tool.)
It was the ecosystem build around the Pacific. Starting with the great HBO official site. Click here for a sample relating to this week. There’s maps, there’s storyboards, there’s books, audio books, veterans, discussions…it is easy to say “well, they did all the work, why not show it?” but this is pretty stellar work. Not in terms of web presentation or community building online but in pulling together the related work. It pushes the related issues up in my agenda. Even if I didn’t have a thing about the second world war I would get interested in learning about all these strange sounding little islands and the related battles. Heck I even watched the Alister Grierson film about Kokoda in Papua New Guinea! (Warning: if you are not Australian, make sure you get a version with subtitles, I missed half the story trying to figure out what they were talking about!) The ecosystem of information around an old war on the other side of the planet seventy years ago increased the relevance of the show to me. I always like to talks about “hooks” in any marketing concept and this is like a wall of velcro!
It is no profound statement that television is no longer the main attraction. The interesting part of media production and consumption is now precisely the integration of all available media and products. Firstly to become part of the consumers’ lives. And secondly in order to make some money, one way or another, from the whole exercise. More and more television is a loss leader, supporting or promoting other revenue streams. This may even be true in terms of it’s reason for existing. You might do a television programme these days simply to get your hands on enough video material to support a web concept.
Wow, writing a blog really does help you think. I am now bursting to the seams with new ideas about TV shows. All I need is a team of people producing interesting content and side products and I will stride in to enjoy myself.
THAT is how you fan your bride Aristotle!