The rumored original programming from TV repurposer Hulu popped online yesterday. "The Morning After" is a clips compilation of the previous night or weekend's TV highlights. Two talking heads call out their favorite bits not only from TV but occasionally from Web videos as well. Funny or Die is mentioned in the first episode. Generally, however, the material available on Hulu itself seems to be in featured rotation, such as "SNL" clips, "Glee" and highlights of the Golden Globes.
Hulu SVP of Content & Distribution calls this daily four minute show "a smart, daily shot of pop culture to help Hulu users stay up to date -- all in less than five minutes."
I don't want to pile on, especially since this is the first show. Peter Kafka at All Things digital's MediaMemo has already pointed out that this show is anything but the old Olbermann "Big Show" it claims inspired its style. I mention this because he managed to dig out an old clip of Olbermann's way older L.A. sportscasting days.
Okay, I lied. I am going to pile on. If only because the problem with this show may be systemic and deeper than just a rough start. Taking its cues more from today's unctuous Entertainment Tonight or the Insider than anything remotely witty, the highlights and commentary seem aimed at stroking TV not teasing it. Seth Meyer's barely funny anti-gun bit on Weekend Update is praised, as is the fleeting anti-bullying reference in the acceptance speech from "Glee"'s Supporting actor Golden Globe winner. Ok, we get it. TV does good deeds. But was it necessary to slap Ricky Gervais for being celeb-snarky. Don't we pay him to make the stars uncomfortable for us? Altogether, the show kicked off assuring everyone that it this was an unselfconscious celebration of TV in the grand tradition of TV self-celebration.
I'm really piling on now. But perhaps it is because I am old. Just as my grandparents were shaped by the Great Depression, my parents were shaped by WWII and Korea, I remember growing up in a stultifying TV age of what was known as Least Offensive Programming (LOP).
For decades the reigning principle of network TV prime time was that audiences kept the dial where it was unless motivated by something objectionable to try another channel. Then came cable to provide at least some modicum of adult sensibility and edge to the 'blandscape' of TV.
If we don't nip this "The Morning After" thing in the bud, then we may be looking at the reverse trend occurring online. Web video started as a safe haven for outré and even offensive creativity. Anyone remember "Hard Drinkin' Lincoln?" Seen "Happy Tree Friends" lately? The networks and their fancy joint venture come onto the web and deliver this piece of LOP?
I lived through "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Hee Haw."
Not again. Please God. Not here!