Wednesday, January 31, 2007

American TV Pie

American Pie.

A #1 hit exactly 35 years ago. Frequently used for commercials, like the one I just saw. For what product? A Chevy, of course. The Chevrolet HHS LS.

This song is ingrained in our pop culture history. Seems like the perfect target for ep titles, doesn't it? I thought so. But I was wrong. These are the only shows I could find that paid homage to the song:
  • African-American Pie (''The Steve Harvey Show,'' 11/12/2000)
  • Bye, Bye American Spy (''House Calls'')
  • Bye, Bye Miss American Pie (''A Minute with Stan Hooper,'' 12/12/2003)
  • Miss American Pipe (''The Pitts,'' 4/20/2003)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Common Threads #10

What do these TV series have in common?
  • "2ge+her" (2000, MTV)
  • "California Dreams" (1992, NBC)
  • "The Heights" (1992, Fox)
  • "Righteous Apples" (1980, PBS)
  • "Shasta McNasty" (1999, UPN)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monthly Airings Update

I updated the trivialTV database with the most recent six weeks of data (825 records).

The online schedule finder now spans more than 24 years and has 125,759 records.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Keep a Stiff Upper PiP

I've talked before about placing ads in the black border when you watch shows in letterbox mode. And I mentioned targeted TV ads so many moons ago.

But I think I missed a few obvious things.

Think break-free shows. Notice I didn't say commercial-free.

Every TV will have multiple picture-in-picture (multi-PiP) capability. Dual PiP is readily available today. What if one of the PiP boxes is dedicated to commercials?

Don't laugh too hard.

Think about this idea. The cable company puts a PiP box in the upper left hand corner while you watch TV. Targeted ads are shown inside this box while you watch a show break-free. These ads can be national or local.

The concept seems reasonable. TV screens are much larger, providing more real estate for such options. Soccer has essentially been doing this type of advertising on a national scale for years. Such a scheme provides a simple way for your local cable company to use Google as the broker for TV commercials.

But here's the beautiful part of the concept. What if you don't want to watch commercials? Just pay the cable company a flat monthly rate and you can watch everything commercial-free. The cable company pays the network a small fee for each upgraded viewer to replace the lost ad revenue.

This idea may even make cable less expensive for those who don't mind watching commercials since it will be subsidized by those people who are willing to pay to avoid commercials.

Sounds like a win-win-win-win situation to me.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Money Honey: The Series for Children?

You know her as Money Honey and maybe Econo Babe, but is Maria Bartiromo ready to cede these nicknames to Lindsay Campbell at WallStrip?

I didn't think so. That was until I read's prediction that Ms. Bartiromo would leave CNBC. But I was still skeptical. Then I read that she wants to use "Money Honey" for the name of a children's television series. That's a move I didn't anticipate.

Where'd I get this crazy idea?

On 5 January 2007 the domain,, was privately registered and is currently parked. But that could've been anybody trying to make some cash from Ms. Bartiromo's tag.

But only 11 days later, Ms. Bartiromo filed eight different documents with the United States Patent & Trademark Office to protect the phrase, Money Honey, for a variety of products and merchandise related to "entertainment and educational programming for children," including "an ongoing children's television series."

I e-mailed the attorney of record, Jean Voutsinas (at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz), to get confirmation and/or additional information from Ms. Bartiromo, but my request was ignored.

If this idea comes to fruition, I can imagine a lot of fathers encouraging their children to learn about stocks and personal finance on Saturday mornings just so they can watch Ms. Bartiromo. Maybe that's how she'll reach her real demo — the children's series is just a ruse.

Drama Matters

So say the folks who say "We Know Drama."

Turner Network Television, Inc. (TNT) filed two different documents with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on 19 January 2007 to protect the phrase Drama Matters. Furthermore, way back on 7 December 2006 TNT registered two domains — and — but neither domain is currently accessible.

What does this all mean?

Two different trademark filings. Two different domains. Similar names.

Fortunately, TNT was extremely specific in its trademark filings. Based on this limited information, here's what TNT appears to be developing.
  • "Brokerage of literary, screen and TV treatments, short stories, animation, novels, screen and TV plays, plays, dramas and songs and musical plays and compositions."
  • "Providing online information and news promoting the public awareness of the cognitive, emotional, cultural and social benefits of drama education," including "a continuing series of public service campaigns."
My e-mails to TNT requesting additional information went unanswered. All quoted material is taken directly from the USPTO documents.

I love the idea of promoting drama education. Long overdue. 'nuff said.

But a brokerage? Really?

If TNT is the intermediary and the average person is the seller, who is the buyer? TNT? Any entity in the Time-Warner family? Anybody who wants to buy? And what will the creator get?

I know it's another attempt to encourage user-generated content, but it faces a tough road. It's far easier to upload a serendipitous video clip than it is to write a screenplay. And it's much simpler to watch a vid clip than it is to read any treatment.

If the site ever goes live, I can't wait to read all the fanfic! I'm already salivating over the crossover between "The Closer" and "The Librarian."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Don’t Show Good Money After Bad

OK. Just admit it. You chuckled at the ep title, Show Me the Monkey, for "Veronica Mars" last night.

What other shows paid homage to Rod Tidwell's family motto?
  • Show Me the Bunny (''The Wild Thornberrys,'' 9/13/1999)
  • Show Me the Hunnies (''Raising the Roofs,'' 7/20/2006)
  • Show Me the Minnie (''Cybill,'' 12/8/1997)
  • Show Me the Monet (''Early Edition,'' 5/2/1998)
  • Show Me the Money, Honey (''Caesars 24/7,'' 3/14/2005)
  • Show Me the Monkey (''Veronica Mars,'' 1/23/2007)
  • Show Me the Mummy! (''Mummies Alive!,'' 11/25/1997)
  • Show Me the Tummy (''Personal Story'')

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Don't Slight the Band That Needs You

It's going to be a busy time for bands on TV this year. "The Naked Brothers Band" movie preems on Nickelodeon this Saturday, and the series debuts the following Saturday. "Making the Band 4" is currently on its casting tour. "Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll" bows on The CW on March 6. And "Band of Men" just started filming.

Actually, bands have been pretty big on TV for the whole decade. Just take a look at these bands from the 2000s. Can you match the band its series?
Series NameBand Name
1."Bands on the Run" (2001, VH1)a.Da Band
2."Dead Last" (2001, WB)b.Damnocracy
3."Live Through This" (2000, MTV)c.Danity Kane
4."Making the Band" (2000, ABC)d.Eden's Crush
5."Making the Band 2" (2002, MTV)e.Flickerstick
6."Making the Band 3" (2005, MTV)f.The Jackson Decker Band
7."My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star" (2002, WB)g.O-Town
8."Popstars" (2001, WB)h.Pieces of the Puzzle
9."Popstars 2" (2002, WB)i.The Problem
10."Romeo!" (2003, Nick)j.Scene 23
11."SuperGroup" (2006, VH1)k.SlipDog


Monday, January 22, 2007

Pirate Master

Maybe you read the note at TV Squad or the article at Reality TV World that CBS picked-up Mark Burnett's pirate reality show way back in November '06?

Did you notice something odd about these announcements? The show never really had a name. At best it's been called "CBS' Pirate Project" or "Untitled Pirates Reality Series". And Mark Burnett Productions (JMBP, Inc.) has been pretty secretive about the show in general. Burnett hasn't even announced the official name of the show, but I have a pretty good inkling.

"Pirate Master"

On January 12, 2007 JMBP, Inc. filed documents with the United States Patent & Tradmark Office (USPTO) to protect the phrase "Pirate Master" for 'entertainment services in the nature of a reality television series.' On that same day somebody registered the domain Unfortunately, the registration info is private and the website is simply parked; so I couldn't completely confirm that JMBP registered the domain. But the timing is too much of a coincidence.

Periodic Awards Update

I've added nearly 1200 more records to the trivialTV Awards Database over the past eight weeks. Awards season is in full swing; plus, I spent some time in the library looking for missing data for earlier years of some awards. Here's a list of what's included in this most recent update:
  • American Cinematographers Award: 2007 noms
  • American Film Institute Award: 2006 winners
  • British Comedy Award: 2006 noms & winner
  • Broadcast Film Critics Award: 2007 noms & winners
  • Broadcasting & Cable Critics Poll: 2006 winners
  • Cinema Audio Society Award: 2007 noms
  • Costume Designers Guild Award: 2007 noms
  • Directors Guild Award: 2007 noms
  • Foe Paw Award: 1995, 1999 winners
  • futoncritic's Best Eps: winners for 2006
  • Edgar Allen Poe Award: 2007 noms
  • Entertainment Weekly’s Best/Worst List: 2006 winners
  • Golden Eddie Award: 2007 noms
  • Golden Globe Award: 2007 noms & winners
  • Golden Laurel (PGA) Award: 2007 noms & winners
  • Golden Satellite Award: 2006 winners
  • Hollywood Life's Breakthrough of the Year Award: 2006 winners
  • NAACP Image Award: 2007, 1979 noms; 1967, 1969 winners; 1971, 1984 noms & wins; 1974,1976, 1980, 1982, 1983 wins
  • People’s Choice Award: 1976, 1982 noms; 2007 winners
  • Publicists Guild: 1973 noms; 2007 noms
  • Scott Newman Drug Abuse Prevention Award: 1984 winners & honorable mention
  • Screen Actors Guild Award: 2007 noms
  • TV Guide’s Best/Worst of the Year: 2006 winners
  • TelevisionWeek’s Critics Poll: 2007 winners
  • Time Magazine’s Best/Worst List: 2006 winners
  • TVFI Export Award: 2006 finalists & winners
  • USA Today’s Best & Worst of TV: 2006 winners
  • Visual Effects Society Award: 2007 noms
  • Writers Guild Award: 2007 noms; 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983 noms
  • Zap2it Best/Worst: 2006 winners

Friday, January 19, 2007

Appearances Can Be Deceiving...So Use More Camera Angles

Some series are using technology to become a lot more transparent and build a bigger fan base. Just take a look at "The Class" and its recent behind-the-scenes web experiment.

I can't wait until I can control the camera angle for my fav TV mystery drama. Just think of the possibilities. And if it's done right, viewers may watch the same show multiple times. Viewers will upload clips of these alternate views to YouTube, creating an instant viral video if it's done well.

Think about a show like "Lost" or "Heroes." Or any show where viewers are looking for the smallest clues to give them insight into the overall storyline or about some character's past while they try to unravel the big enigma.

Now imagine that the show was filmed simultaneously using multiple camera angles and that all of these camera angles are fed to your TV. The video stream has a default viewing angle, but viewers can change that angle as they wish. Maybe this feature is used only for key scenes since it would be nerve wracking to film and act in this environment all the time — I imagine stage actors would excel though.

Why use multiple angles? Easter eggs. Hide relevant clues about the story so that they can only be seen in these alternate views.

How far away are we? I really don't know. Televised sports usually lead the charge for such technological advances. More than seven years ago BBC viewers were able to select the camera angle for a footy match. We have the technology. Now we just need a two-part TV movie to take a chance — might be perfect for SciFi's next miniseries. And if that's successful, maybe some new series will take a chance and use SimulCamera as its hook.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

NY Times Potato


What do you think about when you hear that single word? Me? I think of the awful joke about the blond. Every time.

What if you hear The New York Times and Potato in the same sentence? Don't know about you, but I think about recipes and restaurant reviews.

The times they are a-changin'

According to its trademark filing on 9 January 2007, The New York Times Company is protecting the phrase Potato for 'magazines featuring television and movie listings.'

I hate to admit that couch potato never came to mind.

BTW: The New York Times Company is trying really hard to branch out into TV and internet TV. Just look at their recent participation in Brightcove's $59.5 Million Series C Round of financing.

Griller Instinct

Another cooking show coming to a TV near you?

About 10 days ago Perry Petrzilka filed docs with the USPTO to protect "The Griller Instinct." Sounds like the show will focus on 'tailgating bbq food recipes.'

Can't tell you much more than that. Nothing online yet at, but Perry did register the domain way back in September 2006. BTW: Add Perry to the long list of people who did not respond to my e-mail requests for additional information.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cure Is Worse Than the Maltese

Maybe you watched "L&O: CI" last night. If you did, you saw the Maltese Cross episode. I had never heard of the Maltese Cross before. I knew about The Maltese Falcon and the short story, The Maltese Cat. But not the Maltese Cross.

With so many choices, Maltese seems like an obvious choice for writers to use in ep names. Here's a list of Malta-related show titles:
  • Maltese Airline Bag (''Eight Is Enough,'' 12/3/1980)
  • The Maltese Canary (''The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries,'' 11/25/1995)
  • The Maltese Chicken (''101 Dalmations,'' 11/7/1997)
  • The Maltese Chotchke (''Kate & Allie,'' 11/4/1985)
  • The Maltese Cow (''The A-Team,'' 12/13/1983)
  • The Maltese Crichton (''Farscape,'' 8/4/2000)
  • The Maltese Falcone (''Pig Sty,'' 5/1/1995)
  • The Maltese Hamster (''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,'' 9/29/1989)
  • The Maltese Indian (''Renegade,'' 3/28/1997)
  • The Maltese Mackerel (''Scooby-Doo,'' 9/25/1982)
  • The Maltese Monkey (''Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys,'' 4/19/1997)
  • Maltese Steele (''Remington Steele,'' 10/16/1984)
  • Maltese Poodle (''Tom and Jerry Kids'')
Looks like most of them pay homage to The Maltese Falcon, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

tv's musical episod35

It's only two days away. Scrubs: The Musical.

Of course you've seen the music videos of Guy Love and Everything Comes Down to Poo. And you probably remember the musical number, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin, from Season 2 (My Philosophy) and the duet, A Surgeon and a Doc Above It All, from Season 1 (My Way or the Highway).

But did you know that Bill Lawrence, the creator of "Scrubs," is already partly responsible for a musical episode? He co-created the animated series "Clone High" which has a musical ep called Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three Acts (Act 1, Act 2, Act 3).

"Scrubs" and "Clone High" are just two series that normally use dialogue but occassionally tell their tales with song. Here's a list of 35 such musical eps in chronological order.
  • 1956 Feb 20: Lucy Goes to Scotland ("I Love Lucy")
  • 1978 Feb 14: Be My Valentine ("Happy Days")
  • 1981 May 26: American Musical ("Happy Days")
  • 1985 Oct 15: The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice ("Moonlighting")
  • 1988 Nov 4: What's Happening to Me? ("It's Garry Shandling's Show")
  • 1993 May 24: Old Tree ("Northern Exposure")
  • 1993 Nov 27: The Garfield Musical ("Garfield and Friends")
  • 1994 Feb 26: Bobby, the Musical ("Bobby's World")
  • 1996 Apr 21: Zanzibar ("Rocko's Modern Life")
  • 1997 Feb 7: Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious ("The Simpsons")
  • 1997 Oct 15: Brain Salad Surgery ("Chicago Hope")
  • 1997 Dec 12: Boatshow ("Space Ghost: Coast to Coast")
  • 1998 Feb 8: The Bitter Suite ("Xena: Warrior Princess")
  • 1998 Feb 27: Per Chance to Dance ("The Gregory Hines Show")
  • 1999 Feb 6: Doggyland ("The Secret Files of the SpyDogs")
  • 1999 Feb 17: Daria! ("Daria")
  • 1999 Apr 9: Bridgadoom ("Lexx")
  • 1999 Aug 17: Sixth Grade Rebellion Mayhem! ("I Was a Sixth Grade Alien")
  • 1999: The Gay Road to Morocco ("Queer Duck")
  • 2000 Jan 22: Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire ("Xena: Warrior Princess")
  • 2000 Feb 25: Rogers and Hughleystein's Two Jacks and a Beanstalk ("The Hughleys")
  • 2000 May 22: The Musical, Almost ("Ally McBeal")
  • 2001 Nov 6: Once More, with Feeling ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer")
  • 2002 Jan 25: Influenza: The Musical ("Even Stevens")
  • 2002 Apr 30: That '70s Musical ("That '70s Show")
  • 2002 Jul 4: Babes Behind Bars ("One Life to Live")
  • 2002 Dec 15: Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three Acts ("Clone High")
  • 2003 Jul 8: Choices ("Toad Patrol")
  • 2003 Aug 15: The Pie Who Loved Me ("Evil Con Carne")
  • 2003 Nov 16: The President Wore Pearls ("The Simpsons")
  • 2003 Dec 21: musical special ("Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps", BBC3)
  • 2004 Jun 20: School's Out! The Musical ("The Fairly OddParents")
  • 2004 Jul 1: It's a Beautiful Day to Be French ("Yvon of the Yukon", YTV)
  • 2005 Feb 14: Red Socks ("7th Heaven")
  • 2006 Feb 26: My Fair Laddy ("The Simpsons")
  • 2007 Jan 18: My Musical ("Scrubs")
Didn't see your favorite show listed? Could be a number of reasons. If I just totally missed one — which is very likely — please leave a comment and I'll update the list. But first read what follows.

Maybe you're looking for a one-time special or TV movie, like High School Musical (2006). Not a series. Not on the list.

Or maybe you thought you'd see an ep of "Cop Rock." I put all musical series in their own category, such as these live-action, scripted (non-variety) series:
  • "That's Life" (ABC, 1968)
  • "The Singing Detective" (BBC1, 1986)
  • "Rags to Riches" (NBC, 1987)
  • "Hull High" (NBC, 1990)
  • "Cop Rock" (ABC, 1990)
  • "Blackpool" (BBC1, 2004)
And if you want, you can add two more shows to this list of musical series. A 10-episode run of "The Jackie Gleason Show" in 1966 — the most famous ep is "The Adoption" — that retell older "Honeymooners" stories in song. You might also include the four-episode serial, "The Gunfighters" (1966), which is part of the "Doctor Who" series.

Trying to find All Singing, All Dancing from "The Simpsons" (1998 Jan 4)? I didn't include any clipshows like that or Drew's Dance Party from "The Drew Carey Show" (1998 Nov 18) or a number of other series.

I also eliminated eps that centered around a stage musical that the characters were presenting. The musical was part of the storyline and not a replacement for dialogue. That means these eps (and probably many others) came off the list:
  • 1966 Oct 3: The Producer ("Gilligan's Island"): Hamlet
  • 1989 Feb 22: Little Shop 'Til You Drop ("Head of the Class"): Little Shop of Horrors
  • 1990 Feb 14: From Hair to Eternity ("Head of the Class"): Hair
  • 1992 Oct 1: A Streetcar Named Marge ("The Simpsons"): Oh! Streetcar
  • 1999 Sep 11: You Oughta Be in Musicals ("Pepper Ann"): Detention: The Musical
    2000 Nov 22: Helen Keller! The Musical ("South Park")
Not only did I eliminate stage musicals, I eliminated all singing performances. Didn't matter if it was a concert, audition or a fake TV show. Again, these musical acts (and many others) were part of the story and not replacing dialogue:
  • 1961 Feb 13: Mayberry on Record ("The Andy Griffith Show")
  • 1963 Dec 18: The Alan Brady Show Presents ("The Dick Van Dyke Show")
  • 1965 Dec 9: Don't Bug The Mosquitoes ("Gilligan's Island")
  • 1982 Feb 27: The Love Boat Follies ("The Love Boat")
  • 1984 Oct 27: The Heart of Rock 'N' Roll, Part 1 ("Fame")
  • 1985 Jan 26: The Heart of Rock 'N' Roll, Part 2 ("Fame")
  • 1999 Dec 1: Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics ("South Park")
  • 2001 Sep 26: Drew Carey's Back-to-School Rock 'n' Roll Comedy Hour ("The Drew Carey Show")
  • 2002 Feb 10: Variety ("Oz")
  • 2002 Feb 14: cabaret act ("As the World Turns")
  • 2004 Apr 2: Oh Boyz ("Kim Possible")
  • 2004 Jul 30: The Road To Audition ("That's So Raven")
  • 2005 May 8: A Star Is Torn ("The Simpsons")
  • 2006 Jun 18: Episode 12 ("Suzumiya Haruhi")
  • 2006 Nov 4: Battle of the Band ("Kappa Mikey")
Still haven't found your favorite episode? I also required that the ep have more than one or two musical interludes. "Ally McBeal," "Drew Carey," "South Park" and "The Family Guy" are famous for using this gimmick once an episode for multiple eps. Here's a very incomplete list of other shows that used this schtick very rarely:
  • 1989 Nov 7: Sweet Dreams ("Roseanne")
  • 2000 May 18: Two Weddings and a Funeral ("Popular")
  • 2001 May 16: Mrs. Finnerty, You Have a Lovely Daughter ("Grounded for Life")
  • 2002 Oct 28: Little Rock of Horror; Dream a Little Dream ("The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy")
  • 2003 Feb 19: Fan February episode ("One Life to Live"): Starr Over Broadway
  • 2003 Jun 27: Chicago spoof ("Passions"): I Ain’t Sorry/Cell Block Tango
  • 2006 Jan 27: Bollywood spoof ("Passions")
Since I've seen very few of any of these shows, I relied on second- and third-hand accounts. If you see an error, please leave a comment!

Sources: ep descriptions at; show & ep descriptions at wikipedia; multiple newspaper articles using ProQuest Newspapers search; many fan pages; a variety of blogs/groups/chatrooms; dvd descriptions & reviews.

Update (17 Jan 2007, 14:14PST): Added
  • 1993 May 24: Old Tree ("Northern Exposure")
based on reader comment and subsequent research.
Update (17 Jan 2007, 15:05PST): Added
  • 1985 Oct 15: The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice ("Moonlighting")
based on reader comment and subsequent research.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

60K Impressions; No Click-Throughs

And you thought your click-through rate was too low?

Those numbers are true. 60,000 impressions and ZERO click-throughs. But it's by design. Since the middle of March 2006 I've been running a test of Google AdWords.

At the beginning of 2006 I read a lot of Chicken Little stories about online ads and click-through fraud. Especially for AdWords. Of course, Google didn't release any real data. (More recently Google announced click fraud is <1%.) Plus, most of those stories talked about anecdotal evidence while all other stories used WAGs and conjecture to estimate the effect of fraud on ad revenue. I looked at the problem and decided that hard data was missing from the conversation.

I thought about the problem a bit and decided there were three prime economic motivators for AdWords fraud:
    1. increase revenue for one or more ad publishers;
    2. increase expenses for one or more advertisers;
    3. increase Google's revenue.
Those are the only parties economically involved in any click-through transaction. The publisher, the advertiser and the middleman. That's it. Sure the visitor takes part by clicking through, but that person doesn't spend (or earn) any money for that click.

I didn't really want to spend the time to click-through ads on my own site to see how often I could do it without getting flagged by Google. I didn't want to set-up a bot to do it either. I also reckoned that Google would spend a significant amount of effort to prevent such fraud when only a few publishers are targeted. Furthermore, I assumed that Google would announce to the world how it reduced this type of fraud.

For all of those same reasons, I also didn't want to investigate click-through fraud to increase somebody else's expenses. Plus, there was no person or company that I despised enough to ad stalk. Finally, I wouldn't have access to somebody else's records to measure the financial impact. I could talk about numbers of clicks but not hard cash.

That leaves prime economic motivator #3. The conspiracy theorist might say that Google runs bots that click through an ad on each site just a few times a month. It'd be beautiful. Just like taking a penny from the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny jar at a different store everyday. No one site would notice a change in cost. Nor would any individual site see a dramatic effect on revenue. But in aggregate, Google would make a ton of cash. Since Google controls the data and information, it could choose to never release it and nobody would know.

Google doesn't need to do that though. At least not yet.

But what about a computer-savvy person who is also a big stockholder in Google? That person has an economic interest and the capabilities to run the same types of bots to insure an increase in Google's revenue and subsequent increase in stock price. A good conspiracy theory and maybe even plausible.

On top of all of that, I have access to traffic records and the financial impact since I publish the ads. And it's completely passive — I don't have to be involved at all on a day-to-day basis.

So I decided to measure whether anybody is running bots to click through AdWords ads. I put AdWords ads on my site and then played with parameters to mostly hide them. You can't see the ads when you visit unless you look reeeaaally close and know where to look. Of course these ads are always visible to bots.

During this 10-month period (12 Mar 2006 - 12 Jan 2007):
  • 45% of my traffic came from organic search at Google;
  • 89% of my visitors were new;
  • my blog published 59,578 impressions leading to NO click-throughs.
I was hoping for a few click-throughs so I could make a definitive statement that untargeted, bot-driven, click-through fraud does exist. But there was nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Friday, January 12, 2007


With so many options for watching time-shifted video, we're slowly losing the ability to watch things at the same time as friends and loved ones who live afar.

We've all done this sometime in the past. We talked to somebody on the phone while we watched the same TV show at the same time. We made fun of it like "MST3000" or shared a touching moment. Laughed. Cried. Sat in communal silence. Didn't matter. It was a way to be home alone while still sharing the experience with somebody else.

I'm waiting for a video site that provides a venue to capture these moments. Maybe it already exists — I have to admit that I didn't look very hard. Maybe it doesn't. But it should be simple. Imagine an uber-site that allows you to:
  • Open a private chatroom that also plays a video. Any type of video. TV show. Commercial. Home movie.
  • Identify the lowest bandwith and use that rate as the limiting factor for video to determine how much should be buffered before the video starts to play. That way everybody can watch it simultaneously.
  • Each viewer has buttons that control the playback on everybody's screen.
  • Allow people to speak while the video plays and capture that voiceover on another track.
  • Allow people to type while the video plays and capture all keystrokes for each viewer.
  • Allow people to play mp3 files for background music or sound effects.
  • Time-stamp every action (pause, rewind, frame-by-frame) during the entire video.
  • Allow people in that group access to simple editing tools, including control of the original soundtrack on the video.
  • Allow the moderator for that group the option to make the resulting video public or private.
You can definitely imagine younger sites only providing a fraction of these features — maybe only voiceovers and no playback control — and quickly expanding the menu of features.

You provide people a sense of community with that group while they watched the video. You provide a permanent record of that experience and give them a way to share it with others.

Plus it's a great way to look for voice-over talent, the next host/writer for "The Soup" or an 'expert' for TV Land's next 100 Greatest list.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bracket Racket

March Madness already?

On January 3, 2007 Viacom filed trademark docs for MTVU's Bracket Racket.

I have no other specific information on the phrase. I e-mailed Carlo DiMarco at MTVU requesting additional information, but I received no reply.

If I had to guess — and it'd be no fun if I didn't make a WAG — I'd say that MTVU will start hosting its own March Madness contest where visitors select their winners for the NCAA Men's (and maybe Women's) Basketball Tournament to compete for prizes. MTVU has a history of letting their visitors win.

Grouper Off the Hook

When I first saw the title, I thought it was a new hybrid cooking-fishing show. But then I noticed which company filed the trademark document.

Sony bought Grouper back in August '06. On Monday Sony announced that Grouper would be included in the BRAVIA Internet Video Link on its 2007 TVs.

Want a sneak peak of what appears to be Grouper's new logo and slogan now that it's truly part of the Sony family? Sony Pictures Home Entertainment filed trademark docs on January 4, 2007 to protect the phrase Grouper Off the Hook and this drawing:

That's about all I can tell you. I sent an e-mail to Laurie Anne Lassek at Grouper, but I received no reply.

BFF: Babysitter Fighting Force

That's the title of a new Disney animated series.

Disney filed trademark docs on January 5, 2007 to protect the phrase, and, according to a January 3, 2007 post on this blog, it's already holding voice auditions.

I do like that Disney is using BFF since it's an acronym for both Best Friends Forever and "Babysitter Fighting Force." Nice touch. Wonder how long marketing worked on that one?

I've heard nothing else about "BFF" and I received no response for my request for additional information from Lisa Salamone (Head of Animation Production, Disney Channel Worldwide).

Wonder if the pitch went something like this.
OK. Imagine crossing The Baby-sitters Club with "Power Rangers."

But make it a cartoon!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Don't Count the Deja Vus, Make the Deja Vus Count

What shows had fun using deja vu in ep titles?

When I was typing in eps for the week, I noticed you could watch a repeat of Deja Vu All Over Again (''Shark'') on Thursday and then Deja Boo (''Ghost Whisperer'') on Friday. So I asked the obvious question. What shows had fun using deja vu in ep titles?
  • Deja Cruise (''Totally Spies!'')
  • Deja Dudes (''Parker Lewis Can't Lose,'' 11/4/1990)
  • Deja Past (''Crossing Jordan,'' 10/17/2004)
  • Deja Q (''Star Trek: The Next Generation,'' 2/5/1990)
  • Deja Two (''Duet,'' 11/6/1988)
  • Deja Voodoo (''The Dead Zone,'' 7/20/2003)
  • Deja Vudoo (''The Zack Files,'' 11/27/2000)
  • Deja Who? (''As Told by Ginger,'' 11/20/2001)
  • My Deja Vu My Deja Vu (''Scrubs,'' 5/9/2006)
  • Operation: Deja View (''Sister, Sister,'' 1/11/1995)
  • Willie Wombat's Deja Boo-Boo (''Taz-Mania'')

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Proof Is in the Wedding

Yesterday you probably read that Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer — costars on "House" — recently got engaged. If they get married before "House" leaves the airwaves, they'll join a select group of spouses with recurring roles on scripted TV series together.

I'm not talking about reality, variety or DIY shows. The upcoming series, ''Rob & Amber: Against the Odds'' (1/11/2007, Fox Reality), doesn't count. In the past we've seen couples that are:
  • repairing homes together, like Natalie & Wally Bruner on ''Wally's Workshop'' (1972)
  • cooking together, like Caprial & John Pence on "Caprial and John's Kitchen: Cooking for Family and Friends" (PBS, 2004)
  • singing together, like Cher & Sonny Bono on "The Sonny and Cher Show" (CBS, 1976)
  • entertaining together, like Dale Evans & Roy Rogers on "The Roy Rogers Show" (NBC, 1951)
  • doing magic together, like Nani Darnell & Mark Wilson on "The Magic Land of Allakazam" (CBS, 1960)
  • playing wordgames together, like Betty White & Allen Ludden on "Password"
  • getting married, like Britney Spears & K-Fed on "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic" (UPN, 2005)
  • starting a new life together, like Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey on "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" (MTV, 2003)
  • growing old together, like Sharon & Ozzie Osbourne on "The Osbournes" (MTV, 2002)
There are just too many shows like these to name them all; so I won't.

And I'm not counting couples who appeared on a series and then got hitched after the series left the airwaves.
  • Meredith Baxter & David Birney from "Bridget Loves Bernie" (CBS, 1972)
  • Delta Burke & Gerald McRaney (guest star) from "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986)
  • Alyson Hannigan & Alexis Denisof from "Buffy" (WB, 1997)
  • Laura Leighton & Doug Savant from "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992)
  • Suzanne Pleshette & Tom Poston from "The Bob Newhart Show" (CBS, 1972)
  • Emma Thompson & Kenneth Branagh from "Fortunes of War" (1987)
To name just a few.

And I'm definitely not counting the always-popular, one-time guest appearance during Sweeps to pump up the ratings.

The couple has to be married in real life while the show is on TV. The characters have to be on the series more than a few times. And it has to be scripted. Here's the list:
  • Bettye Ackerman & Sam Jaffe on "Ben Casey" (ABC, 1961)
  • Gracie Allen & George Burns on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" (CBS, 1950)
  • Barbara Bain & Martin Landau on:
    • "Mission: Impossible" (CBS, 1966)
    • "Space: 1999" (Syn, 1975)
  • Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" (CBS, 1951)
  • Roseanne Barr & Tom Arnold on "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988)
  • Bonnie Bartlett & William Daniels on "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982)
  • Bonnie Bartlett & William Daniels (5 eps) on "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993)
  • Bernadette Birkett (voice of Vera) & George Wendt on "Cheers" (NBC, 1982)
  • Josie Bissett & Rob Estes on "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992)
  • Connie Booth and John Cleese on "Fawlty Towers" (BBC2, 1975)
  • Sophia Bush & Chad Michael Murray on "One Tree Hill" (WB, 2003)
  • Nanci Chambers & David James Elliott on "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995)
  • Susan Clark & Alex Karras on "Webster" (ABC, 1983)
  • Sarah Clarke & Xander Berkeley on "24" (Fox, 2001)
  • Jill Eikenberry & Michael Tucker on "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986)
  • Valerie Harper & Richard Schaal (3 eps) on "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974)
  • Mary Healy & Peter Lind Hayes on:
    • "The Peter Lind Hayes Show" (NBC, 1950)
    • "Peter Loves Mary" (NBC, 1960)
  • Harriet Hilliard & Ozzie Nelson on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (ABC, 1952)
  • Benita Hume & Ronald Colman on "Halls of Ivy" (CBS, 1954)
  • Julie London & Bobby Troup on "Emergency" (NBC, 1972)
  • Ida Lupino & Howard Duff on "Mr. Adams and Eve" (CBS, 1957)
  • Daphne Maxwell-Reid & Tim Reid on
    • "Frank's Place" (CBS, 1987)
    • "Snoops" (CBS, 1989)
  • Catherine Oxenberg & Casper Van Dien on "Watch Over Me" (MyNetworkTV, 2006)
  • Kelley Menighan & Jon Hensley on "As the World Turns"
  • Paula Prentiss & Richard Benjamin on "He & She" (CBS, 1967)
  • Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos on "All My Children" (ABC)
  • Brett Somers (5 eps) & Jack Klugman on "The Odd Couple" (ABC, 1970)
  • Mary Steenburgen & Ted Danson on "Ink" (CBS, 1996)
  • Jessica Tandy & Hume Cronyn on "The Marriage" (NBC, 1954)
  • Andrea Thompson & Jerry Doyle on "Babylon 5" (Syn, 1994)
  • Nana Visitor & Alexander Siddig on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (Syn, 1993)
  • Maura West & Scott DeFreitas on "As the World Turns"
  • Patricia Wettig & Ken Olin on "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987)
  • Colleen Zenk & Mark Pinter on "As the World Turns"
If you know of any more, please leave a comment.

Update (10 Jan 2007, 08:34PST): added Catherine Oxenberg & Casper Van Dien on "Watch Over Me" (MyNetworkTV, 2006)
Update (14 Jan 2007, 22:49PST): based on reader comment: added Nana Visitor & Alexander Siddig on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (Syn, 1993)
Update (14 Jan 2007, 22:57PST): added the following for ""As the World Turns"
  • Kelley Menighan & Jon Hensley
  • Maura West & Scott DeFreitas
  • Colleen Zenk & Mark Pinter
Update (22 Jan 2007, 10:38PST): based on reader comment: added Nanci Chambers & David James Elliott on "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995)
Update (5 Apr 2007, 16:17PDT): added Bonnie Bartlett & William Daniels (5 eps) on "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993). They even got married on the show.
Update (7 Apr 2007, 15:58PDT): based on reader comment: added Josie Bissett & Rob Estes on "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992).
Update (5 Jun 2007, 01:13PDT): based on reader comment: added Connie Booth and John Cleese on "Fawlty Towers" (BBC2, 1975).

Monday, January 08, 2007

Scoreboard Update

It's been a while since I've told you about the series I've been adding to the trivialTV database. In the past 12 weeks I've added 1,835 new series and have confirmed preem dates for 289 of these series.

During that time I had a real push for cooking shows for a project I was working on. The trivialTV database now has 581 food-related series.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Idol Academy

Do you want to learn how to sing? Maybe have your favorite Idol contestant as your teacher?

2007 might be your lucky year.

FremantleMedia — the company that produces "American Idol" — recently filed documents with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to protect the phrase, Idol Academy, for "performing arts camp" and "website relating to performing arts camp."

An Idol summer camp seems like a natural next step, doesn't it?

AI has stars like Barry Manilow help aspiring singers at the level below him and then perform live. I can see the same thing happening at Idol Academy. AI sweethearts like Lisa Tucker and Katharine McPhee — two performers who just sang at the end of my street in the Tournament of Roses Parade — would spend a day at camp to help lesser singers and then perform live. Same gimmick, same results.

Plus, Idol Academy would be a great feeder system. There's a reason why AI keeps extending the age cutoffs, and there's a reason why most talent shows have limited lifetimes. The talent pool is small. As the number of truly interested and talented singers continues to shrink, summer camp would produce higher quality contestants by providing formal training.

What better advertising for your summer camp than to have one of your own be crowned the AI winner? I can already hear the cries from the audience about an unfair system!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fox Neighborhood

Way back on October 16, 2006, somebody — probably the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation — registered the domain names,, and All three domains are currently parked at (Surprisingly, is still available.)

About two weeks ago (December 21, 2006) the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation filed docs with the USPTO to protect Fox Neighborhood. The trademark filing states that the goods and services include
  • "streaming of audio materials on the Internet; streaming of video material on the Internet" and
  • "providing information in the field of television, motion picture film and video entertainment via the Internet"
among other items.

That's pretty vague, but it sounds like yet another portal to deliver Fox content in a slightly different way than MySpace or Mobizzo or any of Fox's other ventures. My e-mail requesting additional information fell on deaf ears.

Always Keep Your Eyes on the Bowl

I just love this time of year for college football. What other sport has the drawing power to prominently advertise completely unexpected companies? The MPC Computers Bowl? The Chick Fil-A Bowl? The Meineke Car Care Bowl?

I'd love to start a contest for people to pick the company that spends the greatest percentage of its revenue to name a bowl game next year. Could we see The Chipotle Burrito Bowl? (At least Chipotle offers a burrito bowl as a menu item.) Maybe bowl games will get political and we'll have The John Edwards Bowl. (I'm John Edwards and I approve this football game.)

I don't think we'll ever see generic names again — except in movies and on TV. "The Waterboy" had The Bourbon Bowl, but I think even fake bowls on film will probably have naming rights from now on.

What famous TV Land bowl games did teams play in? Let's take a look at episode titles.
  • The Pineapple Bowl (''Coach,'' 12/10 & 12/17/1991)
  • The Patriot Bowl (''Coach,'' 12/2/1992)
  • The Pioneer Bowl (''Coach,'' 12/7/1993)
  • The Popcorn Bowl (''Coach,'' 12/12/1994)
I think the writers for ''Coach'' were running out of generic P-word Bowl Games and that's the reason why Hayden Fox took the job with the Orlando Breakers sometime after the Popcorn Bowl. They just couldn't bring themselves to write an ep for The Peanut Bowl.

Now it's time to be silly with ep names. What other shows referenced 'bowl' so that it could be construed as a college football bowl game if you knew nothing else about the show? Here's a short list:
  • The Acme Bowl (''Tiny Toon Adventures,'' 11/16/1990)
  • The Back Bowl (''Rocket Power,'' 3/6/2001)
  • Batter Bowl (''Throwing Clay,'' 10/3/2005)
  • Beetle Bowl (''Fear Factor,'' 6/25/2001)
  • Brain Bowl (''Rocky Road,'' 11/12/1986)
  • The Bud Bowl (''Home Improvement,'' 3/5/1996)
  • Chowder Bowl (''Low Carb Cookworx'')
  • DeathBowl (''Celebrity Deathmatch,'' 98, 99 & 2000)
  • Dud Bowl (''Married…with Children,'' 11/13/1994)
  • The Enoch Bowl (''Tammy,'' 12/17/1965)
  • J.C. Bowl (''The Parkers,'' 10/2/2000)
  • Papier Mache Bowl (''The Carol Duvall Show'')
  • Rice Bowl (''East Meets West with Ming Tsai'')
  • Salad Bowl (''Fresh from the Garden'')
  • Strawberry Bowl (''GKA'')
  • The Super Pac-Bowl (''The Pac-Man Show'')
  • The Superstretch Bowl (''Superstretch and Microwoman'')
  • Tracy Bowl (''The Drew Carey Show,'' 2/24/1999)
  • The Turkey Bowl (''According to Jim,'' 11/21/2001)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

In the Nickname of Time

Abrams. Reddick. My nephew.

I've noticed that JJ is a pretty common nickname. Maybe it's always been common and I've just recognized it lately. Since I've been adding character nicknames to the trivialTV database, I've entered 'JJ' a lot more than I expected.

Can you name any 'JJ' TV characters?
  • JJ on ''Newhart''
  • JJ on ''Prison Break''
  • JJ on ''Counterstrike''
  • Johnny 'JJ' Bannerman on ''The Dead Zone''
  • JJ Devlin on ''Eddie Capra Mysteries''
  • JJ Douglas on ''Blue Thunder''
  • Jennifer Jo 'JJ' Drinkwater on ''The Governor and JJ''
  • James 'JJ' Evans Jr. on ''Good Times''
  • Lt. JJ Fredericks on ''seaQuest DSV''
  • JJ Jackson on ''Cade's County''
  • Jennifer 'JJ' Jareau on ''Criminal Minds''
  • Jeremiah 'JJ' Jellinek on ''100 Centre Street''
  • JJ Killian on ''Midnight Caller''
  • JJ McMillan on ''Studio 5-B''
  • John 'JJ' Pryor, Jr. on ''American Dreams''
  • Jerome Jeremiah 'JJ' Starbucks on ''JJ Starbuck''
  • Prof. JJ Stillman on ''Beyond Reality''
  • Dr. Jonas 'JJ' Venture, Jr. on ''The Venture Bros.''