TV.com Commenter Shout-Outs: Your Recent Thoughts on Alcatraz, TV Product Placement, and The Bachelor

It’s TV.com Commenter Shout-Out time, when we throw the karaoke mic over to you. (Just please, no “Don’t Stop Believin’.” There’s only so much we can take.) This week, we hear your thoughts on Alcatraz, we take pitches on the best and worst in TV product placement, and we imagine a polyamorous spin-off of The Bachelor. Let’s go!


Tim was underwhelmed with the debut of Alcatraz, the latest show to come out of the J.J. Abrams Mindf**k Factory, but let’s see what you guys are saying about it.


ToddMurray found the details lacking::

The premiere of Alcatraz was as if Castle and The 4400 got together and gave birth to Fringe's very boring, poorly written cousin (no wonder the showrunner is no longer with the show). I just couldn't get into the main characters, the story, the setting, any of it. I was never shown why I should care about any of these people.

To me, one of the worst writing offenses in television is to ignore what would be second nature to your main character. Early in the second hour, our detective hunted down the sniper's nest location and found a single shell casing. Did she bag and tag her sole piece of evidence, as any experienced detective would do? No, she rolled it around in her grubby little fingers and handed it to her novice author counterpart so that he could wrap his hands around it as well. Maybe I'm being harsh or nit-picky (I can admit it), but things like this completely pull me out of a show. And when it's a show I'm desperately trying to find a reason to keep watching... delete, delete, delete.

Rent The 4400 for a better version of this type of show and, like Tim says, stick with current shows like Person of Interest, Alphas, Fringe, etc. to get your sci-fi fix.


Whiskey3030 also sided with Tim::

I don't often agree with critics, but this was a pretty accurate analysis. After only two episodes it felt like the show was already in a rut. They're going to need to break out of the "prisoner of the week" routine FAST and get some type of underlying storyline going. The whole "who's giving the prisoners their orders?" thing is weak at best and highly overused. The characters were dry and shallow, and there wasn't much of a hook. I would like to see this show succeed, though; I just hope they pull it together soon.


nexpose is wary of jumping in, but is giving the show a chance nonetheless:

The concern with these types of shows is that you may just never find find out what it's all about. Let's hope it won't fall in that cancellation mode whenever and leave us all hanging. I'm starting solely on the fact that Jorge Garcia is in it. I'm not into "police" type shows at all so may not last long on it but the mystery may intrigue me enough.


GirishStewart is just happy to have another genre show on the air:

The two-hour premiere was alright, not exceptionally good, nor bad. I'll be watching since I love sci-fi shows. You know, I will take a hundred sci-fi procedural Alcatrazes over the CSI and NCIS drab any day! TV needs sci-fi to succeed.


Well, CBS must be hurting for cash, folks, as the network has apparently handed over the Hawaii Five-0 writers room duties to Subway. That got us thinking about product placement in general. We know it can suck, but can it also be done well? You weighed in.


pcsjunior002 recalled a scene from an old Aaron Sorkin show:

Best EVER: Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Episode 9, "The Option Period." The characters portrayed by Amanda Peet and Bradley Whitford pretty much spent the entire episode arguing over which sponsors to have on their show as pretty much the conversation you want to have right here right now, Seth. All the while being PERFECTLY in character for the president of the network and the guy trying to honestly run a comedy show.


DavidJackson8 mentioned a KFC plug on Community that hit the right notes:

Whatever; product placements happen. Unless you're Mad Men (because, yes, they have a clear advantage) almost all product placements are at least fairly crappy.

Community's KFC placement was one that I think was pretty well done. Colonel Sanders fit well with their "spaceship" and Chang managed to advertise it and poke fun at the fact that it was a product placement at the same time.

I cringed a little bit as Hawaii Five-0 did it but I did at least find it a little humorous... Kamekona convincing himself eating five foot-longs at once was healthy. I find Chuck's Subway placements much worse... they typically aren't funny and they do them a lot.


skyermay00 pointed out that soap operas, not surprisingly, are some of the worst offenders:

I know not much is expected out of soap operas and they are struggling enough as it is, but General Hospital has some pretty ridiculous examples of this. They had an entire month where, I guess it was "heart healthy" month, but for some reason every character lugged a bag of Prego spaghetti sauce and V8 tomato juice around and proceeded to lecture their family members into making more "heart healthy" decisions. They also recently had a mother making her child chocolate milk with Hershey's chocolate sauce and she was assuring her child that he was getting his favorite Hershey's chocolate milk with the bottle in the shot. Oh, also when the movie Nine was first coming out they had an entire episode where a couple was deciding that on their next date they were going to see that movie and they talked about it the entire episode. I know the show is struggling but they could stand to be a little smoother about those kinds of things.


Finally, we leave you with an interesting rumination on The Bachelor, inspired by Lily's latest recap.


witchinsider imagined what a Mormon version of the show might be like:

Sister wives, you're so right. I'd get a kick out of a Mormon Bachelor, but sadly I guess there'd be no show if he just kept every single girl around. Maybe start with a group of fifty and only marry ten of them? Hey, that'd be ten times the number of marriages this franchise has produced over two dozen seasons between the lead and his/her first pick!


I know I’d watch! But then again, I’d watch anything. Thanks once again for your great feedback, everyone! It’s always fun to read what you have to say. We’ll see you here next week.

Comments (15)
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I'm more interested in the mystery of Alcatraz, not necessarily whether the show is well written or not. I also thought it bared significant resemblance to "the 4400" we'll see if it lasts as long.
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I'd settle for seeing an alternate universe where a feature of the AltEarth is its near-lawless advertising (please, bring back OUOT Olive and Walter, though). If the show needs it, let them make it an acknowledged part of the show (I don't think anyone can forget the geisha advertisement in Bladerunner or the GAP in Minority Report, which is a great way to show how ads can help build a world), but keep Fringe on the air!
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I enjoyed Alcatraz but I don't lock myself into being a regular watcher until after I've seen several shows. I watched 2-3 "Finder" episodes and while watching one, decided I just didn't want to see any more It's too early to commit myself.



As far as Fringe is concerned, never could get into that one.
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Since apparently some of the guards in Alcatraz disappeared they should be doing a story covering one of those. That's where the show could break out of the prisoner-of-the-week. Show us what happened with one of the good guys.
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i have no comment on this page.
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I have no reply on this page.
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i had "no comment" before you had "no reply"
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I forgot about film placements, the worst of which has to be the Bones episode, where the message was "Go see Avatrar, you'll get to have sex!"
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Networks have to do SOMETHING with gaining money from sponsors... Instead of too much product placement, why not just put all shows in Letterbox and have ads run at the bottom of the screen? If something interests you, you hit a button on your controller and a commercial will play? It helps both the show and the sponsors by telling you what they're interested in.... Its not a well thought out idea, but something like that.. its late.
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Following up on ToddMurray's criticism of Alcatraz in the article:



Not to excuse it more generally, but I'd argue that it wouldn't make sense to bag and tag here anyways. The detective is already sure of who the shooter is, so it's not like pulling a fingerprint off the casing is going to help figure out who to suspect. The detective also doesn't work within the system anymore, so it's not like the bullet casing is going to be used to convict the criminal in court. Likewise, taking care not to contaminate the evidence serves little purpose. Finally, these are escaped convicts, as far as can be told. They've already been convicted, but have apparently failed to serve out their sentences. Ostensibly, the purpose of catching them is to put them back in prison.



The only aspect here that could take me out of the show is that I would expect the force of habit to cause the detective to unconsciously handle the evidence better, even though all rationality indicates this isn't strictly necessary.
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I definitely see your viewpoint and I touched on that in the other thread. At that time, they couldn't have really known it was him (we knew for sure, but they didn't). They immediately jumped to that conclusion stating that the case matched the M.O. of the missing prisoner she read about in Hurley's book and, of course, the convenient plot device "we're here investigating, so it's obviously one of the missing Alcatraz prisoners". There was no real detective work whatsoever to get to that conclusion.
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I'm guessing your last paragraph is what Todd means, when he refers to "the second nature of the character"
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Yeah, I felt the same about the bullet. They know who the killer is, so they don't exactly need to preserve the potential fingerprint on it.
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As a Fringe fan, the news that the show is in trouble because it's not bringing in a lot of money worried me. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that, as long as product placement will help to support the show, I won't really mind it. The same is true for any struggling show. Of course, the question then becomes how to do the product placement. If its over-done, to get in the way of the storytelling, it can end up hurting the show. But if it plays too small of a role in a scene, the company whose product is on the show may not feel it is worth it. There's a fine line between those two possibilities, but it's not impossible to find the right balance. Also, if the writers can work a product into the plot of the show without having it feel forced, even better. I agree with the example that DavidJackson8 gave with Community's use of Colonel Sanders. They brilliantly tied the advertisement to the main plot, so that the episode wouldn't have been the same without it, and were able to make jokes about the product and product placement in general, without doing it in a way that would piss off KFC. It certainly was memorable and left me with positive feelings about it instead of feeling annoyed that they were advertising something so blatently, which is a great thing for an ad to do. If more shows could manage to do that, I think fewer people would have a problem with product placement on TV.
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