This weekend, the previously unheard of Angie Tribeca premiered unexpectedly. And continued to premiere, for a 25 hour marathon, until all of Season 1 was complete. TBS employed some kind of TV guerrilla tactics with this off-the-wall comedy, and the weirdest thing is, this ambush kinda really worked.
Angie Tribeca: Sneak Attack
Everyone's buzzing about Angie Tribeca, ensuring that there will be plenty of viewers by the time Season 2 airs. Continuing the strange format of episodes, on January 25th, Season 2 premiered but this time at less than break-neck speed, as the episodes will air weekly. So if you haven't already watched Season 1, you might want to catch up quick!
If you think about it, the 25-hour marathon is one of the best and most innovative marketing campaigns we've seen in a while, firmly geared to harness social media to build hype as the show aired. The whole thing is beautifully bizarre, which really mirrors the show's deadpan yet slapstick style.
Before the show was released, the trailers framed Angie Tribeca as a dark cop thriller, complete with mournful indie music and no lines from the show. there were hints that there was something a little different though: my personal favorite is this trailer which ends on a shot of Jagger the K-9 driving a car...
Was this show even marketed as a comedy before it was unveiled? Did people just tune in expecting a serious cop procedural? I kinda hope so, because that just adds another note of surreal hilarity to the whole affair.
So why the sneak attack? Why not just roll out the episodes like any normal show? There's an interesting answer to this, and it speaks a lot to the current climate of TV shows...
Binge Watching Is The New Normal
Many people credit Netflix with starting this trend, but really they were just the first to utilize the way people watch TV nowadays. With pretty much every TV show and movie you can imagine available online through various (dubiously legal) streaming services, the way people watch TV has changed.
Gone are the days when we patiently waited for episodes each week: many people prefer to save up shows until they can marathon them over the course of a few days. (Or, if you're hardcore, a matter of hours.)
This has had a huge effect not only on how networks air shows (as evidenced by Angie Tribeca) but also on how shows are written. Netflix originals don't have to pander to demographics, and their success doesn't hinge on ratings: they have a captive audience who the writers know are probably going to marathon at least 4 episodes at a time. And this has really changed how the shows are written.
Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada commented on how this affected the structuring of Netflix's hit show, Daredevil.
"With weekly TV, you sit there and go, 'The audience may not want to wait two or three weeks to get this particular bit of information.' Whereas with Netflix, we might be able to hold onto a particular piece of information, because they may just watch it two hours later."
Ultimately this makes for a tighter narrative, allowing episodes to be less, well, episodic, and progress the story better.
This tradition has also meant that cult shows have been renewed, thanks to the immense fan following who usually watch things online. The same goes for internationally popular shows: CBS commented that the international acclaim of Star Trek was one of the reasons they chose to finally give the franchise another show via their new online streaming service.
What Does This Mean For TV?
Notably, this trend seems to have affected online television viewing more than anything else. But TBS has managed to exploit binge watching, and online social media, to shoot Angie Tribeca to immediate cult fame. It's really exciting to see an old fashioned telethon style marathon harness the power of the internet, and the binge watching trend only increases the new show's appeal.
Will more shows follow on in Angie Tribeca's footsteps and premiere with sneak-attack binge events? Only time will tell, but for now we're gonna go take a nap. After that 25-hour marathon, we're exhausted.