TV's fall lineup to hit two small screens
September 5, 1996
Web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EDT
From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman
(CNN) -- Just when you thought you couldn't sit through one
more rerun, the beginning of the fall television season is
around the corner. The Big Three networks plan a whole new
roster of shows to keep you entertained while you're playing
your role of couch potato.
But will the web sites for their new shows live up to the
standards already set by existing shows' sites? Read on for
the shows to come, and the sites that set today's high-water
NBC has mined ratings gold with its Thursday-night lineup of
comedy programs, including "Friends," "Seinfeld" and "The
Single Guy." The network made no secret that its strategy
for fall 1996 is to dominate the other six nights of the week
with similar programs -- ergo, the recruiting of Brooke
Shields to star in "Suddenly Susan," and the "Single Guy"
franchise expands with "Men Behaving Badly."
Somehow, though, the cookie-cutter web sites that NBC has
created for most of its shows -- all of which can be found at
http://www.nbc.com/entertainment/shows/ -- don't quite match
up to the really good web sites that have been created for
other shows that broadcast on other networks. In the comedy
realm, in fact, some of the best sites were created by fans,
not by the networks.
Kids in the Hall Tribute Page
For example, one fan of the show "Kids in the Hall," created
by a Canadian comedy troupe, has built a tribute page for the
show. What's it got over the network sites? More than one
layer of information, short but interesting bios of the five
Kids in the Hallers, frequent news updates on the members'
activities, and links to other "Kids" sites.
It also takes advantage of existing technology, allowing
users to hear sound files from the actors, hear a clip from
telling when the page was last updated. (Note: You won't see
it if your browser isn't compatible with Java.)
Arguably the most detailed (and perhaps also the most tacky)
web site in the comedy show genre is for a show that is no
longer in original production. Nevertheless, its stars came
back, Spam in tow, to put together a site that breaks all the
rules, just like the original "Monty Python's Flying Circus"
did when it first aired in the early 1970s.
If you ever liked the show or any of its sketches, you will
indubitably like this site. It has games (which you can play
with the TopGun plug-in, available for download on site),
including "Catch the Mad Cow Disease Game," "Hang Knight,"
and "The Pig Game." You can join the Spam Club, which gives
you access to the Abuse program, a Mad Libs-style form letter
whence you can insult your family and former friends.
Lost in the maze of features? One of Monty Python's tasteless
cartoon characters will lead you through the different
features. And, of course, there's shopping, which the site
managers don't want you to forget about, because that's how
they're paying for the site. This site is not for the easily
insulted. But then if you've ever seen the show, you already
The Chicago Hope Homepage
CBS is in no hurry to be left behind in the Nielsen ratings.
The network has a two-pronged strategy, introducing shows
that it hopes will catch on with viewers, including a
newsroom drama entitled "Early Edition," (hmm, wonder if they
knew about CNN's show by the same name when they named
theirs?) while still leaning on proven successes to hold
their audience share.
One of their proven successes is of course "Chicago Hope,"
which gets to keep its day and time slot this season because
it's done so well there (now that it's finally moved out of
the shadow of its NBC parallel, "ER"). CBS's page is at once a
plug for the show and an acknowledgment that right now, CBS
has more pressing things on its mind than on-line matters.
Instead of setting up an elaborate page itself, it's linked
to The Chicago Hope Homepage.
The Chicago Hope Homepage is yet another page set up by a fan
as a labor of love. Its layout and design, by Stanford
University student Christine Lee, are professional and
thorough. Available on the site: episode summaries, gossip
on Hope stars, their bios, of course, best one-liners, an
outline of how each character is related in the hospital's
tangled web of friendships and divorces, rules for "The
Chicago Hope Drinking Game," and much more.
The X-Files Official Web Site
In the science fiction arena, NBC presents its new show "Dark
Although the show hasn't hit air yet, it already has a page
on NBC's site. Like all NBC's new shows, it touts a "Must
Click" RealAudio greeting.
NBC's use of RealAudio is good, but the "Dark Skies" page
still has a long way to go before it catches up with its
nearest television rival, "The X-Files."
Fox, unlike most of the networks, is giving each of its
shows' web sites distinct flavors. The pages for the
animated series "The Simpsons" are under construction, but
the cover page is still distinctly Simpsonesque. Its show
"Mad TV," "Saturday Night Live's" competitor, has a
relatively detailed and unique site as well. But it's the
"X-Files" site that comes out on top against its network
Among the offerings: an episode guide, in case you missed a
show and have to know what happened. The guide goes all the
way back to the beginning, covering not only the show's
content but background on recurring characters as well.
Then, when you finish catching up on the show and find
yourself to be completely confused, elated, or disgusted, you
can hop over to the site's Fan Forum to tell other fans how
While the networks have yet to incorporate a lot of new Web
technology into their show pages, some are beginning to find
ways to work techno stuff into their sites as a whole. If
you feel like playing, check out the following special
features. In general, they require the appropriate plug-ins,
which are indicated at the sites.
Vivo at ABC
Watch promotional spots for their new fall season, as they
Real-time conferences with NBC's stars
Check the site requirements
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All Rights Reserved.