According to ads on each of the top 5000 English-language websites, on banner, pop-up and sidebar ads, there is only one show worth watching this week:
The Big C.
(Wanna bet there's one at the top of this page, right now?)
And it seems like it'd be a wonderful romp; what with middle-aged but still kinda f'able Laura Linney lounging on a lawn, or a sandy beach, it must be a laugh-riot?
All one wonders is: What does the "C" in the Big "C" stand for? Cremesicle? Cunnilingus? Cleveland?
No. It's f--king Cancer. The Big C is about Cancer.
"No one is going to watch it because Laura Linney's character is going to lose hair, fingernails and body-mass," I imagine the executives saying to each other. "So... why not put a banner ad on every website that ends with 'dot.com'? Then we'll rope 'em all in."
Here's where it gets weird: The website is full of downloadable sh-t that should only accompany Nick, Jr. shows and breakfast cereals.
From Showtime's website: "The new SHOWTIME original series THE BIG C features acclaimed actress Laura Linney in the role of Cathy Jamison, a reserved, stifled, Minneapolis schoolteacher who receives life changing news and decides, from that moment on, to make drastic, long-overdue adjustments to the way she is living her life."
Recall that this show is about CANCER, then check out the fun extras available at the show's website:
A downloadable calendar (Only for one year. Are they assuming that the viewers will have died, or the show?)
An iPhone app;
A Blackberry BIG C game;
IM icons (has anyone over 21 ever used one of these?); and, my personal favorite;
Printable, color-by-number "The Big C" dress-up paper dolls! What the f--k were the producers thinking?
(And, I might add, this can only occur when unhip oldsters try to think like hip youngsters. I imagine the phone conversation during a planning session for, say, The Brady Bunch, to be similar: "You know what the show needs? One of them Beatles! They want how much?? Oy. Even for the ugly one, Dingo? Ok, what is the cheaper generic version. The What-now? Monkeys? I don't want to have animals on... M-o-n-k-e-e-s? Ok, get me the cheapest one. And we'll have Jan... No, Marcia! Marcia fall in love with him, and then... What? Hit her in the face with a football?? What the hell?..." [For whatever reason, the person having this discussion sounds like Garry Marshall in my head.])
Here's the thing: I'm sure the show is wonderful, and I'll probably watch it. What bothers me is Showtime's whoring out of a show that might be better accepted should it be discovered organically. The subject matter is apt to strike a nerve by design; perhaps cramming it down the country's throat is not the proper method of promotion.
But, let's be honest: The premium cable channels are looking to fill a void --and reclaim the audiences-- left by the end of shows such as "The Wire", "Six Feet Under" "Sex in the City" and "The Sopranos". And everyone knows shows like "Breaking Bad" and "True Blood" are second-tier: The best of what's available now, but not as good as The Wire, et. al., supra.
So, is promoting a show about the lighter side of terminal illness with printable paper dolls a peek into the future of promotional advertising, or a glimpse into the abyss; the first step upon a slippery-slope of ethical bankruptcy, from which we'll never recover?