Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Television Off TV: Chad Vader

Differences and Similarities to Television on TV
    This was a bit hard for me to swallow to be honest. I really liked the first episode and where the show appeared to be heading, but after that I kept watching because I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. In all, I liked it, but I don't think that it is quite up to par with traditional television. Perhaps that's why I'm rather critical of it, because I was comparing it to traditional television. While it wasn't up to par, in my opinion, I do think it was a very well-done amateur series. It felt like I was watching a film student's final project or something, not like I was watching a television series. That's the biggest difference from this show and traditional television, for me at least. And that may be due to what resources were available to the creators, or maybe that's the way they intended for it to be, I don't know. Also, there wasn't really any character depth. Characters were presented as "you should not like this character and you should like this character, but you should like the apparently evil brother of a super villain who is trying run this store and get a girlfriend." In my experience with television, there is more character depth. Now, this season was only eight episodes ranging from six to eight minutes a piece, so there's some leeway there, but in comparison to traditional television, it just doesn't hold up.

Now, there were some similarities to traditional television. The biggest being that it told a story and it was actually entertaining. Additionally, there was a protagonist competing against an antagonist, there was love (sort of), comedy, drama, and action. These components make good television, but like I mentioned earlier, the eight-episode-season made it seem rushed and it was hard to connect.

Success of Chad Vader: Dayshift Manager on TV
     With that being said, I think that this show as it was in season one could not make it as a traditional series on television. Now, I haven't seen the other seasons, so I don't know how it has evolved, but I don't think season one would fare well. I think this because of the reasons I stated for it being different from television, but also because of the limited audience. I didn't even know this show existed before this assignment and I doubt anyone else does unless they are familiar with the creators' other work or they happen to stumble across the series. So, if you want to watch it, you pretty much have to go look for it somewhere. I was surprised to find it on Hulu. Now, if it were on television, perhaps it would have more publicity, but I think it's quality would fail it at that point. The audience for this show is Star Wars fans who want to see the puns and allusions to the film series, but it's kind of hard to watch. I guess there are similarities to the show The Office, which could draw fans of that humor and type of show as well. So, once you weed out the one's who can get passed the quality of the show, I would argue there would be little left that advertisers would be willing to bet on to fund the show.

In order for the show to succeed on television, I would argue that the acting would have to step up. Not that it was horrible and unwatchable, in fact, I really like Chad. However, characters like the crazy janitor were much too corny. The love interest wasn't very believable. And the competition between Chad and Clint seemed to be pressed a little too much. Like I mentioned, there would also have to be more time to develop character depth so the audience can relate. The special effects could be upgraded as well. I've seen better lightsabers in crappy YouTube videos. Little details like these would make the show easier to watch in my opinion. Again, this could be due to the resources available or could even have been the intentions of the creators, but I don't think people are going to stop watching Grey's Anatomy for this.

Digitization of Production, Distribution, and Exhibition
     Havens and Lotz (2012) describe how digitization of audiovisual production has put many opportunities into the amateur's hands. I think that's a true statement. I don't think Chad Vader: Dayshift Manager utilizes what is available. The lightsaber looked okay, and the force powers were pretty believable, but other than that, there wasn't anything overly impressive to me. Perhaps other web-only television series are better about using such resources. Even so, traditional television and film obviously already use these resources and they have dramatically advanced television on TV. Therefore, if these resources are available to the amateur online film or television series creator, then digitization definitely allows for positive advancement in audiovisual production.

As for digitization of distribution, there is definitely potential for positive advancement. Havens and Lotz (2012) point out the success of digitization of music and getting rid of the physical components (for those who so desire). I would argue that this would be very successful for the film/television industry as well because everything is in one place. This is especially true of television series that tend to come in four to six discs and take up a lot of room on the shelf. Access to the material is easier than ever and this is even more true with the outbreak of the "cloud" and other online memory sources. Now, piracy is definitely an issue that is a negative aspect of digitization, but no one will win that war. Havens and Lotz (2012) point out difficulties in making this process happen (coming up with new regulations), but once it's worked out, I think digitization will absolutely allow for positive advancement  in media distribution.

     Finally, I think that digitization also allows for positive advancement in media exhibition. The process of making media available for consumers on the internet is much easier than making it available at other locations (theaters, venues, kiosks, etc.). For instance, getting a film to a movie theater is a stressful process and if something goes wrong, then it could mean that the film isn't shown at it's scheduled time. In contrast, Hulu is capable of putting whole episodes of TV series on its site over night and it is much more convenient for consumers to watch their shows than waiting for the series to come out on DVD or for the rerun later in the week. Also, consumers are able to access the media from anywhere there is an internet connection.

In all, I liked Chad Vader: Dayshift Manager and I might watch the later seasons. When held next to shows that are on TV, it doesn't fare so well, but it has potential. However, it's important to note that without digitization, this show wouldn't be able to exist in the first place, and that is commendable. The creators' ability to utilize digital production tools, being able to put it online for anyone to access for free at any time, and having websites like Hulu and YouTube that will host their show are the result of digitization. It will be interesting to see how the future unfolds for television off TV.

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