Tuned In

In Which I Do Not Review Caprica, But I Kind of Preview Glee

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First rule of Tuned In: the amount of time that I take for vacation will be roughly equivalent to the amount of time thereafter making excuses for work that I have not done, because I was on vacation. 

Therefore: I am not ready to review the pilot of BSG prequel Caprica—released today on DVD—because the preview screener came in while I was on vacation. I’ll post some belated thoughts later. (Or is that belater?) In the meantime, you can find previews at Sepinwall, Televisionary and, I am sure, at finer fan sites everywhere. 

But I will raise one related thought in the meantime: I’m not sure what I think about the wisdom of this apparently trendy new strategy of “previewing” pilots months before the actual series debuts. Caprica comes back to Sci Fi (by then SyFy) channel in 2010. Hardcore fans will remember it, but who else will?

In a similarly risky move, Fox is debuting Glee after the American Idol final sing-off on May 19—then putting it in the can until next fall. Now I’ve seen Glee, and it’s the best pilot I’ve watched so far this year: funny, fresh, with some of the sensibility of creator Ryan Murphy’s Popular but more heart. I hope the strategy works for it, and I can see the logic. American Idol will give it a huge lead-in.

But I worry about how many of those viewers will take to Glee’s satiric take on the world of high-school glee-club competitions, which parodies both High School Musical and the sensibility of American Idol itself. There are only so many TV critics and gay men watching American Idol ironically out there, right? And four months or so (I don’t believe Fox has announced a fall premiere date yet) is four eternities or so in today’s media. 

Now, this strategy isn’t unheard of. Bravo has successfully “previewed” shows like its Real Housewives franchises. (Speaking of which: even if you despise these shows, you owe it to yourself to watch Real Housewives of New Jersey at least once when it debuts.) And sometimes network spinoffs will air what is essentially a “backdoor pilot” in May—see Private Practice and the CSI family. But Bravo gives a smaller gap between preview and debut, and spinning off a known franchise is different from Glee’s situation. (And maybe even from Caprica’s, if the prequel is as different from BSG as the early reviews say.) 

We’ll have to wait—and wait—and see. In the meantime, if any of you have already peeked at Caprica, weigh in here. Are you willing to be patient?