Posted by: Burth Helm on May 16, 2007
And it is disappointing. I really did have high hopes for this show. I found the 30-second Geico ads pretty darn funny (this will be the first time a show is based on an ad campaign, for those who’ve been living in, um, a cave?), and I thought the campaign’s website, Caveman’s Crib, is one of the funniest and best interactive ad sites around.
But the trailer for the pilot, where the cavemen attend a cookout, looked pretty bad. Bummer number one: They re-cast the whole thing with new cavemen. Bummer number two: this thing looks like it’s going for super-cheap teen-movie laughs. There was one mildly amusing part where one of the cavemen falls into a fire, but other than that it was pretty groan-inducing. It was just a trailer, I know, I’ll hold out and hope the whole pilot is better. As soon as I can find a video feed, I’ll put it up so all can see.
Cavemen aside, ABC put on a polished, way-over-the-top upfront presentation with a slew of new pilots (AdAge has a good sum-up here), a dance number with the cast of Ugly Betty, a performance by The Fray, and a 50-piece marching band, confetti, and cheerleaders. Ad head Mike Shaw started out his speech with an impassioned defense of television: “Your customers are watching more television than anything else. This is the golden age of television.” (Please, pay no attention to that computer in the other room!) Given the financial pressures all around the medium, I’d have to say yeah, right. At the reception afterwards, one media buyer snarked, “I wonder if these guys even expect anyone to believe what they’re saying.”
Shaw also positioned ABC for the upcoming Nielsen commercial ratings, saying that his group “is willing to talk about any type of deal” and that research showed ABC’s audience is more engaged, and less likely to fast-forward on their Tivo’s, putting the network in a good place for commercial ratings. “We have the people you want:” said Shaw. “Families with money who watch the commercials.” Comedian Jimmy Kimmel riffed on this on this later in the program during a short monologue: “In other words, we have the laziest viewers there are.”
Of all the new ABC shows, I’m putting my money on the new game show “National Bingo Night.” It’s a nationwide game of Bingo, folks. There’s no twist. Everyone across the country plays bingo from home. And there’s even a catch-phrase (get ready). As the game goes on, the Australian host asks whether, anywhere in the U.S., we have a bingo. Pause. Suspense. More suspense. Then, a small Indian man in a referee’s uniform waves an arm and shouts an accented “No Bingo!” This thing is gonna be huge.