The William S. Paley Television Festival has kind of changed over the years, and not in ways I particularly love. Its original mission was to have reunions/tributes for current shows and older shows alike. Now it’s essentially a place where the cast and crew of every current show can go to meet their fans. And their occasional “old” show reunions are often shows that they already covered when those shows were still on the air, like (this year) Buffy and The X-Files and Judd Apatow’s various cult flops. I’m not saying they should re-unite shows that nobody’s ever heard of or where all the cast members are dead, but even from relatively recent years, like the ’80s and ’90s, there are a number of shows they haven’t done or even (apparently) considered, where it would be interesting to hear from the cast and creators.
Now, my griping aside, the PaleyFest as it exists is a great thing, because there really aren’t a lot of opportunities for TV casts/crews of most shows to connect with actual fans of their shows. The format of these panels is sometimes similar to the gatherings at network upfronts, where the creator and whatever cast members are available will sit on the stage and answer questions about what they’re doing with the show — except that at PaleyFest, the people asking the questions are fans who wanted to be there to see the people who make their favourite TV shows, not a bunch of advertising and press people. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the press, and there most certainly is nothing wrong with advertisers, whom we all love and respect.) It’s not a format that lends itself to insightful revelations, except maybe for shows that are about to be cancelled and where the creator and actors are all in a foul mood. (The NewsRadio PaleyFest gathering was apparently quite revealing for just this reason.) But the opportunity to see everybody together, talking about their work without the editing that goes on in DVD special features, is the real fun of these gatherings. And of course someday these shows will all be “old” shows, and we’ll be glad that these gatherings were recorded for posterity.
See also Todd Van Der Werff’s report from the Buffy panel. (I admit that Buffy fans are terrifying to me, and I say this as a Buffy fan myself.