Of late, I've been somewhat consumed by the latest TV phenomenon, Heroes. I've blogged about my love of smart TV before, but I believe that TV has gotten even smarter. With the multitude of iPods, iTunes, iWantwhateverIwantnow devices, making a television show engaging, interactive, and sustainable, has to have multiple technology elements.
TV - the longstanding "boob tube" has been the central focus of entertainment in homes for more than 50 years. We've seen it evolve from family sitcoms to heavy dramas to mini-series. But, Heroes brings a theatrical element to the small screen. Its saga format gives it a feel of a well-made movie that never ends. The quality of filming is outstanding - if you even pay attention to that while trying to keep up with the multiple storylines. With the advancements of DVR, TiVO, and the old-fashioned VCR (wow, did I just call that old-fashioned?), you can watch an episode over and over in a short 45 minutes or so. Life is good.
The Heroes story is simply this - ordinary people have extraordinary powers. Now, the storyline is much more complex, but to get you up to speed at our current Episode 17 would take too long - rent the DVD. And, I could write multiple entries on the Biblical references it provides...but I digress. It's evident from creator, Tim Kring, that this story was already developed before the first episode as each week we unfold answers to mysteries, and begin to see new ones. This week's "Company Man" episode screams Emmy award from the opening scene to the credits. I teared up during the final scene of the episode - it's been a long time since I've done that with a TV show. Maybe during a series finale or when Dr. Greene died on ER, but it's a rarity.
But, the excitement doesn't stop at the TV screen. Move to the internet. The great folks at NBC and their eager advertisers (read: Nissan) have developed an interactive experience to bring this show to life. Each week a new graphic comic book novel appears to give you a bit more of the back story that you long to know after the show ends. Each week, the full-length episode can be found online, and for the second half of this season, we've been treated to the choice of watching the episodes online with cast and crew commentary. I don't have to wait for the DVD to find out the backstage secrets of this amazing show. And, after watching the villian, Sylar, do commentary, I've grown quite fond of Zach Quinto. (Some people attribute my love for this psychotic killer to my presidential assasin heritage) And, if that's not enough, one of the director/producers of the show writes a weekly blog for more insight. I don't think I've ever felt this informed about a favorite TV show like I have with Heroes.
If that wasn't enough, Nissan and all their marketing dollars, created the Heroes360 experience. By logging into the Primatech Paper site (the "cover" company for some pivotal characters on the show) and providing your e-mail and cell phone, you can enter into an even deeper world. I've received e-mails that take me to password-protected sites housing sketches and pictures that assist me in understanding the characters of the show. I receive text messages throughout the week alerting me about new posts and new web sites to shed light on our mission of figuring out who everyone is and what their mission may be. As a marketer, I have one word for this - brilliant. They keep this show in front of my face almost everywhere I go. It makes it interactive and irresistable. For someone who loves smart TV, I eat this stuff up.
Many people have felt the internet and "entertainment on demand" will be the death of TV. Everyone should take a lesson from Heroes - internet may be the best thing that ever happened to TV.