Ok, did we all get it out of our system yet? The sly digs, the guffaws, the skeptical snorts? CBS is turning a Twitter feed, a Twitter feed, for crying out loud, into a comedy series, and there’s been a collective rolling-of-the-eyes out there in medialand.
The news that William Shatner has been tapped for the lead role – the “dad” of “Shit My Dad Says” – is icing on the cake for anyone who wants to pooh-pooh CBS’s programming savvy. (Yes, I said “pooh-pooh” in a post about “Shit My Dad Says”. Moving on.)
Well, here are three reasons I think this thing has a hope in hell – with the caveat that the vast majority of pilots self-destruct before they make it to air, let alone without ever becoming a successful series.
- There’s an audience. No, SMDS’ million-plus Twitter followers won’t automatically translate into a faithful TV audience. But those followers represent a big chunk of people primed to at least consider giving the pilot a look-see – and that’s quite a hurdle to jump. What’s more, many of them are die-hard fans… and if they like what they see, they’ll work tirelessly to promote the show to friends and family.
- Justin Halpern is legitimately funny. SMDS isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it takes real craft to crank out laugh-out-loud jokes that fit into Twitter’s 140-character limit, and he clearly has an ear for dialogue. Granted, doing that once every day or so is a long way from hitting the sitcom pace of three or four jokes per minute – but he isn’t alone in writing for the show. Andthat brings us to…
- The producers know how to walk the line without crossing it. SMDS is being produced by the creators of Will and Grace, a show that often flirted with transgressive humor and pushed the boundaries of good taste – often gave them a good, hard shove, actually. But they had an instinct for their audience’s comfort level. If anyone can pull off the balancing act that SMDS is going to demand, they’ll do it.
To everyone who says you can’t turn a Twitter feed into a TV series, of course you can’t. But can you take the talent, passion and spirit behind that feed, and channel that into another medium? Absolutely.
Will it work? I guess we’ll find out.
Meanwhile, my agent awaits your calls.