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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is ABC’s aerial stunt to promote ‘V’ worth getting our green panties in a twist over?

Lisa de Moraes in The Washington Post takes on ABC over an announced scheme to promote the about-to-debut series reboot of V:

The next time ABC and its parent company Disney start thumping their chests about how they’re “going green,” please spit in their eye and remind them of Monday’s announcement that the broadcast network will dispatch a fleet of skywriting planes in 15 cities around the country over 12 days to write large ominous red V’s over U.S. landmarks — all to promote a four-episode sampling of a science-fiction series that is reportedly already having problems.

Some cities, like New York and L.A., are set to be V’d multiple times.

All told, we’re conservatively talking here about around 400 gallons of fuel containing maybe 800 grams of lead — aviation fuel is exempt from the EPA’s ban on lead — and around three tons of CO2, among other pollutants, if each “V” outing took about one hour of flying time. This is according to various aviation pundits contacted by The TV Column.

While this may not hit the “ecological miscarriage” threshold, it’s maybe not the best marketing scheme for a network whose parent company only seven months earlier announced — one day ahead of its annual shareholder meeting in its “corporate responsibility” report — that it would cut carbon emissions from fuels by half by 2012 as part of its goal to achieve net zero direct greenhouse emissions at its office and retail complexes, theme parks and cruise lines, because, the company’s senior vice president of environmental affairs explained, “we thought it was important . . . to communicate a sense of commitment.”

And, de Moraes reminds us:

all in the the service of four episodes of a TV show that ABC will then yank off the air to get it out of the way of the launch of “American Idol” and the Winter Olympics, and which will not be seen again until maybe March.

I’m inclined to think that because all promotional efforts by TV networks (and film studios) are hugely resource-wasteful — you should see the piles of papers and other material I receive almost daily, much of which arrives via some sort of express delivery, requiring a driver in a big truck to make a special trip to my house — this one probably isn’t any worse than others… except for how it’s in aid of a show that the network doesn’t appear to have much confidence in. (Airing four episodes and then not giving audiences any more for five months suggests they’re not expecting much of an audience at all… and what audience they do get will get jerked around, as is the networks’ wont these days.)

What do you think? Is ABC’s aerial stunt to promote V worth getting our green panties in a twist over?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • RyanT

    Well FOX only aired one episode of Glee and then made its fans wait four months or so.

    I think ABC is framing the four episodes as a sweeps “event” that will get people hooked and leave them with wanting more. How successful that is will depend largely on the quality of the show, but I’ve no doubt that even if it catches on just a little bit, ABC will do everything to promote the heck out of it in the interim.

    Then again… Pushing Daisies. Sigh.

  • LISA

    I am looking forward to this good cast and I loved the old series!

  • Hank Graham

    Considering that this is “V” we’re talking about, I thought it good of them to warn us it was coming. Now, it may go all BSG and quality and surprise us, but remember, this is “V,” and the odds are it’ll suck like a Hoover.

    I will say it’s good casting. Every time I see Morena Baccarin, she’s too good-looking, and I end up thinking she must be an alien. She’ll probably still look good when her human features are torn away to reveal her true, alien self.

  • Hank Graham

    Considering that this is “V” we’re talking about, I thought it good of them to warn us it was coming. Now, it may go all BSG and quality and surprise us, but remember, this is “V,” and the odds are it’ll suck like a Hoover.

    I will say it’s good casting. Every time I see Morena Baccarin, she’s too good-looking, and I end up thinking she must be an alien. She’ll probably still look good when her human features are torn away to reveal her true, alien self.

  • Paul

    I think it’s silly to sky write anything. No one is going to watch a TV show because of sky writing. So you’ve dumped gunk in the air for no reason at all, and it is hypocritical of them. So it’s worth critizing, but not quite getting my panties in a twist over.

    Morena Baccarin, mmmm. That’s why I’d watch. That Joss has great taste in women.

  • allochthon

    I’m not thrilled at the skywriting, but even more annoying is the show getting yanked for 5 months.

    Just after yanking the very enjoyable “Defying Gravity” with no plans (that I can discern) to broadcast the rest of the shot episodes.

    Is ABC deliberately trying to make their SF fans angry? (no, I know, they’re not…)

  • Mimi

    I don’t have an opinion on the show, just on MaryAnn’s specific question — no! How strange, to get all worked up over skywriting. How many jets crisscross this country day in and day out? How hugely do we pollute in so many ways? It just seems so bizarre to pick this one silly stunt and go on about it.

  • Is ABC’s aerial stunt to promote V worth getting our green panties in a twist over?

    TMI, MaryAnn.

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