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

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