Backdoor pilots have always been a common way to launch new television series. Sometimes they work, most of the time they don’t. Which was the case with The Farm, NBC’s failed attempt to spin-off The Office into a new Dwight-centric, cubicle-free series (they might have been better served spinning-off The Office’s faux-documentary style, as they did with Parks and Recreation to phenomenal results). In honor of The Farm’s brief existence, airing as a regular Office episode last night, we thought we’d take a minute to acknowledge our favorite backdoor pilot, Top of the Heap, which aired during Married with Children’s fifth season and starred a young, pre-Joey Matt LeBlanc (and, of course, the immortal Joseph Bologna). However, unlike The Farm, Top of the Heap was actually picked up, but only for a very brief, six-episode season. A failure still, but a more modest one.
Gone, But Soon Forgotten
We spoke briefly yesterday about the already-record breaking Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, but that post was mostly to express our unbridled enthusiasm, our uncontrollable excitement about the possibility and then certainty of a return to Neptune. However, it would be irresponsible of us to talk about this revival, and convey our joy, without considering the very real ramifications of this money-making endeavor. The Veronica Mars movie, having already surpassed its $2 million goal by $1.3 million, has completely changed the paradigm for what a Kickstarter can be, and, certainly, raises the question of what it should be.
The obvious issue with this fundraising format is that Veronica Mars fans – you, me, Steve, Tom – are essentially not only paying for the production of the movie, and not only paying for the production of the movie so Warner Bros. doesn’t have to, but we’re paying for the production of the movie so Warner Bros. doesn’t have to and handing them the profits. There’s no backend deal here, there’s no recouping on our initial investment. We will not be entitled to any portion of the net. Meanwhile, while we pour our millions of dollars, perhaps contributing a significant portion of our incomes, spending money we really don’t have, a giant movie studio will reap the benefits. It’s easy to think – and very pragmatic to do so – that they have hundreds of millions of dollars to sink into the Harry Potter franchise, and then they have hundreds of million dollars to extract from the Harry Potter franchise, and they can’t fork over a measly two million for this little passion project? That’s not necessarily a cynical, misguided outlook. But it also doesn’t paint an accurate picture.
More: Buyer Beware…