posted Nov 28, 2007

One of the milestones I've been watching for is the first entirely DVD-based TV-style series. It's going to happen sooner or later, and will mark a major shift in how TV is produced, once it becomes possible to make it without advertising or subsidy, the only two models that currently work. I've been looking forward to this because I think quirky niche content will benefit the most, and who doesn't think more quirky niche content is a good thing? Nobody who matters, that's who. (... said the nerd.)

I've figured(/hoped) one of the Fox-Cancelled-F's would start us off: Firefly, Family Guy, or Futurama. Firefly, alas, seems dead. Family Guy resurrected in an entirely conventional fashion.

Futurama, while not quite meeting the letter of my conditions, has come closer than anybody else to date. Today I picked up Bender's Big Score. It's a new Futurama DVD movie that has not yet been aired on television in any form, so at the moment, you could say it's entirely DVD based. However, it is going to be chopped up into four episodes and aired on Comedy Central in a month or two.

Still, I think this release will be seen as a turning point. With Bender's Big Score, the time from TV airing to DVD release has gone negative, and it's still only a matter of time before we see a DVD release that never makes it to TV. (Or only makes it as an afterthought after becoming popular on its own merits.)

(Note that while I've referred to this as a "TV series", Bender's Big Score is showing us right away that this term is going to become superseded; Futurama's new "season" is already four movies that just "happen" to be easily chopped up into four episodes each, rather than conventional episodes that can just be slapped on TV as-is. "Video content" is insufficiently descriptive, we're going to need a new term for video content that based around producing lots of relatively-cheap minutes of video. I find it odd that somebody hasn't managed to profitably do this; the budget of one "season" of "TV" and one blockbuster Hollywood movie don't seem too dissimilar, but you get to charge a lot more for the season of TV.)

...

How is it, you ask? On the Futurama scale, I'd give it a 3 out of 5. It doesn't reach the height of the last season. But it is still Futurama, so it's still well above average entertainment; if you liked it before, you'll find this quite a bit more enjoyable than many other movies. And there's three to go, and clearly some arc still in progress, so rather than a so-so movie, he're hoping it's a necessary start to an excellent series.

I think I could see the episode breaks, but only because I was looking for them. I did see a couple of obvious commercial breaks, but not anywhere near as many on the original DVD sets. It doesn't feel as forced into four acts as I thought it would be.

 

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