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When the Super Bowl Ends, It's Time for... 'Glee'? Yes, and Smartly So
February 3, 2011  | By David Bianculli
 
GLEE-Super-Bowl-Special-5-5.jpg

Last year, CBS used its post-Super Bowl slot to launch a new reality series, Undercover Boss. It was renewed for a second season, so that game plan worked. This year, Fox is using its ultra-valuable time slot after Super Bowl XLV to expose new viewers to an existing hit: its high-school comedy-drama-musical mashup, Glee.

And while that may sound like a jarring contrast, the show's producers are doing everything they can to make it a good fit. Cue the "Thriller" zombie dance number. And the Katy Perry nod with blue-haired cheerleaders...

Any program that follows a Super Bowl inherits one of television's very biggest audiences -- but one which is, by that time, mostly inebriated or stoned, either partying or sulking (depending upon team loyalty), and not exactly paying attention. Like commercials during the game itself, a post-Super Bowl offering must grab the eye first, because you can't assume the ears are listening. Humor sells well. Action sells better. Usually, sex sells best.

So listen to what the Glee folks have cooked up, in their special episode to be televised just after the post-game wrap-ups:

There's a high-school football game as part of the plot, so there's action right there. Then there's the additional action of a musical number, where the gang ends up zombie-dancing, right on the football field, to Michael Jackson's Thriller. (See above.)

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And in another scene, all the young cheerleaders at the school don blue wigs, in the style of certain Katy Perry videos, and sing a Katy Perry song -- during which, also in the style of certain of her videos, there are certain things projecting unexpectedly from certain places. The images, if not the music, ought to really stop the football crowd from leaving with this one.

It's smart for Fox to recognize that Glee is its future -- just as it recognized, by keeping Glee in its regular Tuesday time slot and moving American Idol to start each week on Wednesdays instead, that its former musical juggernaut is closer to its past.

If only a one-digit percentage of Super Bowl viewers watch Glee for the first time and like it enough to become regular viewers, it's well worth the exposure.

(Portions of the rest of this column ran a year ago in this space, but still apply. Besides, it gives me another opportunity to run the Jennifer Garner picture.)

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The ultimate post-Super Bowl offering may have been in 2003, when ABC presented a special episode of its series Alias, starring Jennifer Garner as a beautiful spy. For the Super Bowl crowd, this particular episode opened aboard a private jet, with Garner's Sydney going undercover as an escort, entertaining a rich client by sporting a whip and wearing nothing but panties, a bra and a stern expression.

Over the years, there have been more misses than hits in programming after the Super Bowl. The first game in 1967, before it was even CALLED a Super Bowl, was followed on CBS by an episode of Lassie. The first truly successful use of the post-Bowl slot was in 1983, when NBC launched The A-Team.

Since then, the Super Bowl has provided a launching pad to a few great TV series (ABC's The Wonder Years in 1988, NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street in 1993), but has spawned just as many instant flops (NBC's Brothers and Sisters sitcom in 1979, CBS's Grand Slam sitcom in 1990).

Mostly, what the time slot has done right is draw bigger audiences to already successful shows, as with the 1996 NBC "Super-Sized" episode of Friends and Fox's 2008 episode of House.

It worked for House three years ago -- and ought to work just as well for Glee this weekend.

 

5 Comments

 

Margie S said:

It also worked for the Bomb episode of Grey's, too.

Comment posted on February 3, 2011 2:52 PM


Rich said:

I am curious to see how this will benefit "Glee" (and Fox) but I have to say I think it's a wasted move for the simple fact that "Glee" is a 'niche show' - it's already "known" and it already has all the fans it's going to get.

Young people will certainly watch it but if you don't fit its Demo - why would you care? The same could be said for "Family Guy" if you're not in animation. "Alias" works as a spy action show and "Undercover Boss" covers anyone of legal age to have a job and a boss..."Glee" is well..."Glee" - You either watch it or you don't. "House" guest appearing on "Lie to Me" or a "Fringe" episode would've garnered a 'Wider Net' in my opinion.

All I can say is Fox REALLY wants "Glee" to become popular. I've never seen such ad campaigns and praise for a show that no one I know (minus people on this site) watches. In the end, what does Fox have to lose? Football Zombies dancing to Thriller and blue hair cheerleaders??...really?...isn't that a typical "Glee" - How is this a 'game changer?'. I'm not an avid viewer of the show or the Super bowl so I don't really have a dog in the hunt.

Comment posted on February 3, 2011 9:02 PM


Laura said:

The post-Super Bowl episode of The Office is still one of my favorite episodes. It was downright hilarious and had the perfect spot after the big game.

Comment posted on February 5, 2011 8:27 PM


Casey said:

Definitely best used during the 3-D Chuck episode.

Comment posted on February 6, 2011 2:11 AM


Davey said:

So far the current Glee season has been lamer than a sacked quarterback. I hope this special slot marks a turnaround, but as of now it seems to me the show's once-appealing premise is on reruns whether it's doing a new script or not. I hope to be proven wrong tonight, but my sense is that Glee, like Lost, Housewives, and Ugly Betty, among others, is making the unpardonable faux pas of yakking on when it no longer has anything to say. We'll see.

Comment posted on February 6, 2011 3:33 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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