We watch... so you don't have to.

CBS Spreads Alien Signal

For years now, CBS has been nothing more to me than The Old People Network, offering bland, predictable fare that won't upset the Metamucil-and-embittered-nostalgia crowd. I know CBS is home to several TeeVee favorites, including The Amazing Race and Without A Trace, but even those thoroughly decent shows seem to lack a certain energy. And CBS' edgier offerings, like CSI, have gotten watered down by endless duplication. That sense of pervasive sluggishness was one of my biggest complaints about Threshold, which has continued to be maddeningly so-so in the weeks since its debut.

So it suprised me to hear that CBS was making the hugely intelligent -- even daring -- move of streaming ad-free Threshold episodes via its Web site. True, they'll only be offering one episode at a time, and only in a three-day weekly window, but it's a start. It's a perfect fit for the geek audience Threshold is presumably trying to reach, and it ties in well with the show's still-creepy notion of a viral, self-propagating alien signal. (Note: If your head begins to distort into a fourth-dimensional snowflake and/or you begin to entertain thoughts of world conquest, please stop watching.)

I can't understand why every network isn't doing this with all of their shows. (Well, maybe not Yes, Dear. The longer we can keep that from spreading to the Internet, the better.) Streaming video's good enough for casual viewing, but choppy enough to dissuade would-be bootleggers. Since it's difficult to fast-forward through, the networks could even subsidize it with advertising, if they were feeling particularly greedy. And folks who didn't have time or TiVo enough to catch an intriguing-sounding show when it originally aired would have an easy way to catch up -- and maybe even get hooked.

CBS isn't exactly leading the pack here, what with ABC's offerings for download via iTunes and Cartoon Network's Friday-night streams of various new and classic Adult Swim episodes. Still, I'm pleasantly baffled that this sort of novel thinking is coming from the crotchety old Tiffany Network. I almost expect to hear that Andy Rooney's started blogging.

Which, come to think of it, would be kind of awesome.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *