Have you ever seen a trailer for a movie, or new television show, and you didn't get what it was supposed to be about? That is happening right now with J. J. Abrams' new Fox show, Fringe. I know I've seen a teaser for it a couple of times in the last week yet I can't recall anything about it. Not who might be in it, if it's action, drama, dramedy, where it takes place, or anything. My memory is fine, it's just that whoever made that teaser had different goals than viewers do. They want to make something to impress their boss, while we want something functional that can tell us what we might be getting into.
I'd like to have at least some idea of that in a new show, because you can't just sit down and judge it based on its pilot. You've got to see at least the first five or six episodes to see where they are going in the overall series arc, and that kind of time investment is not insubstantial. You need more than an introduction to characters and places, you need them developed right before your eyes so that you've got at least some level of emotional investment in them. Otherwise, you're just not going to enjoy what you see. Teasers that don't sell you on that aren't doing their job, and I don't care what they think their job is, because I (and you) define it for them. I want to know if I'm going to see more than pretty faces and some explosions, I need to know there are going to be characters in conflicts that intrigue me and make me wonder how they are going to play out. When teasers amount to little more than random, "sexy" looking shots with witty dialog and basically nothing else, you've already lost me as a potential viewer before the thing even airs.
They do the same thing with movies but film trailers get more slack because we know we're going to get most of those things wrapped up neatly in a box, because that's what movies are. We'll get character development, conflict, resolution, and be able to full and completely understand of everything that's going on right at our finger tips -- unless it's garbage and a complete failure at life anyway.
TV shows don't have that luxury because they don't give you all that in the pilot. They can try, but you just can't get it all in. Nor should they try to force it in there, bloating it up and making it unmanageable. There's only so much investing we can do in a given show because there's so many of them. Everything I give to Heroes is a little bit I can't give to Lost or Fringe. If the teaser doesn't sell you on a worthy emotional investment, it's dead unless you want to over-dose on TV which can and does happen.
I don't want Fringe to be dead, but I don't want to sit down and see it right now either. It has to make me want to see it and its teaser has just completely blown it. I know that the writers and producers of a given show aren't responsible for the "next week on blah.." teasers you see at the end of the current episode or new series promos, so I'd guess they probably aren't doing the pre-debut teasers either. Maybe that explains why they often suck so badly. Why is it a network will trust these people with creating the show (along with tens of millions of dollars) but somehow they are unfit for creating what amounts to a 15-30 second commercial?
Ever since I found out how David Letterman owns his late night talker via Worldwide Pants, it made me wonder if it were possible for a big name TV exec-producer to launch a new show under his own banner and ownership, and use that ownership to take over certain responsibilities like creating these teasers from the network, or at least have some creative say in how they are made. The networks have shown repeatedly that they are not capable of doing this without screwing it up. The Scifi Channel specifically ruined the punch to an entire episode of Stargate Atlantis last season that was so absurd that it was borderline insane. "Next week on Stargate Atlantis, blah blah happens and you won't believe what happens next!..." and they then showed what happened next, completely ruining the big reveal for that episode.
That kind of stupidity is why networks don't use marketing firms to create the shows, so why should they be allowed to make the teasers for the shows? Best case scenario they are simply confusing and a complete failure at selling you on the product. Worst case, they ruin it entirely.
If I were Fox, I'd recut the material for Fringe right now and pray for rain. As of right now, I just don't see it happening.