Friday, October 18, 2013

A Quick Note On TV Show Teasing

On November 11, the latest public-establishment-rescue show will hit the airwaves, namely 'Church Rescue' on National Geographic. Yep, struggling churches get the turnaround-artist treatment, and for the record, it does not appear as if anyone but Christians will be served here. Whether this show is anything you want to watch is a matter for another day, but I can tell you I already know what will happen.

That is not a statement of cynicism. I am not going 'oh, the same thing always happens in these damn things'. I literally already know, a month in advance, what will happen. This is a statement of fact, drawn from that marketing major of mine. Why? Because National Geographic has already said what will happen in their press release. They spent their press release going into enough detail about the first three episodes that they spoiled the synopses and endings. In fact, I don't know if you can even technically call it a 'spoiler' if it is literally among the first things that are revealed about the show, in the same statement that first announces that the show even exists.

Here. Take this synopsis from the first episode, which I again remind you is part of the press release announcing the show's presence:

Church Rescue: Country Salvation
Premieres Monday, November 11, 2013, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
A charismatic minister of a Baptist church calls on the Church Hoppers to help revive his decaying sanctuary. They discover that the pastor refuses to invest any money into repairs, plus his lengthy sermons and uncomfortably hot sanctuary make it a deterrent for any potential new members. The Hoppers put together a plan to help the pastor shorten his sermons and reconcile with a former deacon. Though the church makeover is seriously delayed by poor weather conditions, the final day arrives and the pastor is amazed by the changes that have been made. He delivers two short, meaningful sermons, impressing the Church Hoppers and his congregation. And he makes peace with his former deacon and gives him back the deaconship, allowing him to have more time to take care of the church.

Read through that and tell me if you honestly feel like you need to watch the episode anymore, assuming for the sake of argument that you wanted to do so in the first place. You've been told the problems, you've been told the nature of the fixes, you've been told the fixes worked and the church is on the road to recovery and personal problems solved hooray! What tension remains that I need to tune in to see if it's resolved or not?

See, this is the thing about these rescue shows. Sometimes the fix DOESN'T work. Sometimes the place CAN'T be saved. Even if it probably will, you don't come out and say it, not if you want to give people a reason to watch. People watch because people want to see what happens. If you straight-up tell them what happens, all there is that's left to do is talk about it around the water cooler. What the press release ought to have done is cut the synopsis right after 'make it a deterrent for any potential new members', and settle for asking a teaser question regarding whether the Church Hoppers- the turnaround artists, obviously- will be able to turn the place around. Leave questions.

Because right now, the only question is 'why would you do that to your own show?'

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