No Pilots For You!


Fun article in Variety on the fact that many shows haven’t been able to send out screeners to critics. And since a lot of the new shows will be premiering very early (90210, which didn’t make the pilot available for viewing, premieres on September 2), critics have to preview these shows without having seen them.

This delay has been caused by a combination of factors: constant tinkering with and re-shooting of shows and their pilots; a late start on production due to the writers’ strike; and the realization that they’ll save  “hundreds of thousands of dollars in dubbing and shipping costs” by not sending out free DVDs of these things. And, let’s face it, there’s another reason why networks don’t want people to look at Life On Mars too early: the same reason movie studios cancel critics’ screenings for Dane Cook movies.

In a weird way, there’s an advantage to the lack of pilot screeners, since it makes it much more clear than usual that a TV “preview” is all speculation. What I mean is, even if you write about a show based on a viewing of the pilot, you haven’t really seen the show; you’ve seen a prototype episode that doesn’t tell you whether the show will turn out to be any good or not. Without a pilot screener, you can admit up front that you don’t know how good or bad the show will be, and get around to figuring that out the same way everybody does — by seeing if the show is any good when the second, third, fourth episodes come around


No Pilots For You!

  1. Of course, the “hundreds of thousands of dollars in dubbing and shipping costs” translates into at least that much free publicity for the shows…

  2. Though that comment on the saved money was from ABC explaining that they’re going to stream them on their press website instead of sending DVDs. I think that’s a better way to get the preview copies out there anyway.

    I wonder if the lack of screeners will make any difference to viewers? There’s still buzz out there about certain shows and not others, positive for some, negative for others. Critics wrote a whole lot about not much during the recent press tour, and fans are writing about the leaked pilots, so I feel like I know what’s coming and if it sounds like something I have a hope of liking even without hearing whether Alan Sepinwall actually liked it.

    I guess what I’m saying is I wonder if the content of the buzz matters as much as critics think it does, or is it the existence of any buzz that drives viewers?

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