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October 9, 2015

Would you buy a show from Bad Robot?

by Brett Love, posted Jan 8th 2007 1:01PM
Bad RobotJonathan posted news recently that J.J. Abrams is in talks with HBO to direct and produce a show through his Bad Robot Productions. That's all well and good, but let's play junior programming executive for a moment. How would you feel about buying a show from Bad Robot, given their history.

Are you making a deal with the brilliant team behind the top 20 hit Lost? And does the fact that we have now switched that qualifier from top 5, to top 10, to top 20 cause any concern? Or are you making a deal with the team that so bungled Alias that by the end of the run it was almost an act of charity for ABC to even air the show? Seriously. May 17th, 2006, Alias is the #5 show in its time slot behind Deal Or No Deal (NBC), Bones (Fox), The Amazing Race (CBS), AND Next Top Model (UPN), only managing to beat out the movie Final Destination 2 (WB).

Six Degrees? That one managed to stumble through six episodes before being pulled from the schedule. In its last airing it managed to hold on to just 36% of the Grey's Anatomy lead in. And then there is What About Brian. It is still on the air, but let's be honest. Last week Beauty and the Geek had more viewers than Brian. They don't make enough spin to not make that bad news.

So the question becomes, how many do-overs is a hit show worth? Bad Robot has a bona-fide hit with Lost. So do they get a pass on the Alias debacle, the Six Degrees implosion, and the floundering What About Brian? Clearly, nobody is perfect. The history of TV is littered with things like Stephen J. Cannell's Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Aaron Spelling's The Heights, or Dick Wolf's Conviction. But then, those producers/production companies all have multiple hit shows in their bag as well.

I'm starting to think that there might be a whole lot more than just ABC's Wednesday night riding on Lost's return in a few weeks. With the decline in viewers the show has already had, and the move to a less lucrative time slot to dodge Idol, might future Bad Robot productions be on the line? Or am I just over thinking things? After all, Simon Cowell has managed to sell four different shows to four different networks despite the fact that only one of them has seen a second season.

And if you think performance of past shows isn't necessarily relevant, that the idea for the new show is what matters, I can get on board with that. But I would have one question. Do you think a network should look for some kind of guarantee that the show isn't going to be abandoned by the creative team that starts it? It's a pretty common theory that a lot of the problems with some of these shows is the result of changeover behind the scenes. I'd go so far as to say that the two best writers Lost has had can now be found at 24 and Medium. I suppose you can't blame Abrams for striking while the iron is hot, but at some point, someone is going to call him on the consequences.

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I think Bad Robots prolific production is working. I also like that they're working on Star Trek, and I must say that I like the idea of Chris Doohan (the son of James Doohan)doing the part of Scotty.

February 06 2007 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Alright, i dont give a shit if lost stays with abc or hbo, i get both, heres my biggest fear. I understand some people hate lost, but im not one of em, i love it ive never missed an episode. But im afraid theyre gonna just end it just like that, the way they ended another of my fav. shows, "invasion". Abc just left invasion with this big cliff hanger and ended it, it really makes me puke. Hey J.J., get the fuck back to lost and stop making movies that suck ass(MI3 and coming up, Star Trek). Stick to what your good at, which is TV(ya i said it Dave)!!!

January 10 2007 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe if they fix Lost...

January 09 2007 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Joe Bua:

"Now, if you're Bruckheimer, and your skill is finding the right people to do the job, many projects at once isn't so bad. But people are looking to JJ as the creative partner, not just the financial one."

That's exactly what I was thinking. Bruckheimer is the smart one: develop a corporation called "Bruckheimer Television" and produce your own stuff in-house and sell it. I think that's how it works, anyway.

Hiring an individual to develop yet another new project, then abandon it for yet another new project, just doesn't make sense.

January 08 2007 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm glad someone finally said it. The emperor has no clothes. Nothing Abrams does, on TV at least, is any good. As Martha said the Lost pilot was amazing, but I was done by about the tenth episode. And as Carl said, perhaps it could have been better if they just had 13 episodes per season. Think Dexter, Spooks, Hustle, Life on Mars and similar short season/series shows.

No JJ Abrams you're not going to hold my interest by dragging out a mystery for who knows how many seasons. Just get on with it.

January 08 2007 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Bua

Really, Gig?

Do you think no one would be filling that with programming without JJ Abrams? They'd just leave that air dead, maybe for an hour a week (with replays).

Surely there are other people with great ideas who have the time to nurture their projects instead of selling them and then moving on to something else, only to have their grunts do the work.

Usually the ideas that sold get watered down or just screwed up.

This isn't about who's selling the most trustworthy car, it's about the creative process. The creative process, in my experience, benefits only from the free market of ideas, not the market of free trade.

Now, if you're Bruckheimer, and your skill is finding the right people to do the job, many projects at once isn't so bad. But people are looking to JJ as the creative partner, not just the financial one.

January 08 2007 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

#5. The economy works best when EVERYBODY is trying to profit as much as they legally can.

January 08 2007 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Bua

Here's a novel idea -- one guy, one job. You either want to produce a TV show and just a TV show (and, by the way, I mean ONLY one TV show) or you want to make movies with Mr. Scientology?

I am so sick and tired of people having too much on their plates and screwing all of it up.

Isn't the money ABC pays for Lost enough for JJ? Does he have a hooker/blow/credit problem to address? Is the greed thing just so rampant in Hollywood that no one can turn down any project because they need the money? For what? Are their penises just that small that they need to load of on cash to make themselves feel better?

Just how much money is enough money in America; right now, today, I want an answer.



January 08 2007 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For a TV Exec, the important thing is the shows were hugely popular in the beginning. So you green light it, and use the success to get yourself a higher paying job at another network. Then by the time the show starts flailing in season three, you're no longer associated with it.

January 08 2007 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Indeed HBO also lets Bad Robot flesh out stories and characters more that the networks would ever allow. Although I have to agree about the creative crew sticking around for most of the show. Lost hasn't suffered as bad as Alias did when some of them flew the coop, but Alias was just left hanging by it's crew who didn't know how continue the story lines with out it looking bad.

January 08 2007 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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