And the Emmy for Best Self Promotion goes to…
I watched the Emmys last night, but for the life of me can’t remember which network it aired on.
I don’t know what was more awkward on last night’s Emmy Awards: The parade of CBS television actors pimping their own shows before doling out awards or Shemar “Well it’s me again” Moore’s delivery of his other catchphrase, “Only CBS.” Let’s get Shemar out of the way first. He was drunk, right? Or he sustained a concussion minutes before the telecast launched and they threw him out there anyway. He acted like C3PO without the clever dialogue. I kept flashing back to the scene in Talladega Nights when Will Ferrell didn’t know what to do with his hands.
This CBS brings me to the other CBS problem with the CBS night where all CBS presenters felt compelled CBS to mention the network CBS and their television program CBS as much as possible CBS. Ummm, CBS … you won. You’re the most popular network. I don’t particularly like most of your lowest common denominator sitcoms or NCISs or CSIs, but I realize that apparently a lot of other people do, so congratulations. You’re like McDonald’s, and as Jerry Seinfeld said in one of his bits, just put up a sign saying “we’re doing very well” instead of all the constant promotion. It was awkward. When an overly tan Will Arnett came out with his new TV mom, Margo Martindale (who is great in The Americans, and I hope she still has time to guest on that show), and did their bit where she guilted him into pimping their new show, he said during the bit that it wasn’t appropriate. And it really isn’t appropriate.
But in this day and age, where people are streaming shows and fast forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, networks have to do more to get their advertising revenue. And that has spilled over into program promotion. Gone are the days of the “And now a word from our sponsors…” advertisements. They have been replaced with “product integration.” Chuck loves Subway and their “$5 foot longs.” New Girl is not only “adorkable” but it also teaches us how to use the foot-activated liftgate on the Ford Escape. Ray Donovan’s cell phone gets more screen time than Bunchy. It’s distracting. I expect product integration on shows like American Idol or Project Runway because that’s the only way to force it down the viewer’s throats, but blatantly working it into plot lines on scripted comedies and dramas makes it hard to suspend my disbelief. This was the technique used by CBS during the Emmys. Want to know if Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston gets robbed? Well, first let’s hear about the new comedy Mom starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney. Only CBS.
Maybe this is common now for these types of live broadcasts; I really only tuned in to see Neil Patrick Harris work his magic. But I find it annoying that in this renaissance of television programming when one hour dramas are far richer in depth and character than 99% of the films in the theaters, that blatant product/program integration is so heavy handedly shoved in our faces. Although, considering the in your face, no-thinking required comedy that is the paradigm that most of CBS’s sitcoms employ, I guess I should have expected it.