(Update below -- a link to a gallery of pics from the book/kit, and my first impression of the series premier!)
Last fall I got screeners (season premiers and pilots on DVD for the press) from NBC in thick plastic cases, the kind you'd get with a store-bought DVD. Screeners from CBS -- which are plentiful (I love you guys) -- come in translucent "slim" jewel cases.
Nothing fancy required, nothing fancy provided.
Fox never sends me anything, and this year has ignored me entirely, although I did get a DVD from them once in a paper sleeve.
The SyFy Channel, on the other hand, just sent me a book with glossy pages on the characters for Stargate Universe that lights up like a Stargate when you press a button on the front.
Oh yeah, they also included a two-DVD set featuring the three hour series premier.
The disparity here is stunning. While I'd tend to agree that the press kit for Stargate Universe was excessive and by no means necessary for me to be happy with SyFy, I'm not going to complain, because it's so obviously awesome. And more importantly I didn't have to beg for it, which is always a plus. I'm sure demand for SyFy press kits is far less than what you'd see for House, or CSI, but even SyFy is putting CBS to shame these days if this is how they are going about their business.
Every network should learn from what SyFy is doing, and not just with their press kits. Whenever I need something from SyFy, they are happy to oblige. CBS is very responsive and the people at NBC are as well, although they are still proving difficult to get screeners from. SyFy genuinely wants to treat bloggers as part of the press, and that means a lot, least of which because we actually are a part of the press.
But SyFy puts them all to shame in comparison.
Fox especially is getting on my nerves. I asked the press contact for Dollhouse if I could get a screener for it last year and was told they'd try, but I never got anything. I asked again at the top of August a full two months before the season premier was scheduled to air, just to be sure that I'd be first in line, or close, and was given a date to check back.
I did so earlier this week, and again yesterday, and haven't heard anything from them at all.
I try not to blame individuals for the failures of their employers, but at some point the blame has to land somewhere, and the press people at Fox aren't giving me much choice here. This is truly disgraceful behavior.
Meanwhile, in between begging emails, I have to see crap like this on Twitter:
The press all got their new DOLLHOUSE 2.1 screeners (wrapped in a lovely burgundy t-shirt and a note from The Whedon) today. Brace.
I understand that Fox hates bloggers. They explained to me already that I couldn't get on their network-wide list for screeners (NBC and CBS had absolutely no problem doing this) because my traffic didn't meet their requirements (at that time I was pulling about 10,000 page views per month, about 120,000 per year) and that with tight budgets, I'd have to ask each show individually and hope for the best.
Sure, I guess that makes sense. When you're the big boy in the sandbox you get to make up all sorts of stupid rules that end up hurting you more than they will anyone else. And I'm not asking for a book here, either.
But obviously that hasn't worked out so well, the only screener I've ever gotten from Fox was the Terminator pilot, and they sent it to me twice (they must have gotten a good laugh out of that.) That show is now off the air and I'm still getting static from Fox on everything else. I can't review what I can't see so Fox hasn't gotten but a single pilot review out of me in two years now, and it's not like I don't want to do it. I'd be happy to give their shows more press, but I can't review a brick wall.
It's pretty amazing that a little cable network like SyFy can make a broadcast giant like Fox look like bumbling amateurs, but they've done it.
Fox corporate really ought to be ashamed and embarrassed by this mess because instead of getting good reviews for their new shows from the small corners of the blogosphere -- which is usually where the big things get their start -- all they are getting is bad press about how horrible their press department is.
I'll hit the Stargate Universe pilot this weekend and publish a review on Monday. I've been given permission to review a stack of stuff from CBS that I've had stuck in my desk for a month now, so that'll be coming too, along with a thing or two from NBC (so far just one thing: Trauma.)
Stay tuned, or if you've seen any of this stuff, feel free to share your thoughts on the comments (spoiler free, if you can.) Update - Fox actually is going to send me a screener for Dollhouse after all, but I think that's all I'm getting this fall. I scanned every picture in the SGU press book and put them up in a gallery, check it out.
Update 2 - And here is my first impression of the series premier. Review to come later.