By: Lizzy Buczak
Bennie Williams is a VP Audience Researcher at FOX. Part of Williams job is to test a show with various audiences and find out what pilots will work and which ones wont. I got to chat with Williams briefly about serialized and procedural TV shows, specifically LOST and ALCATRAZ. Serialized shows include characters, story lines and themes that develop over a period of time and build up towards a gradual climax, usually leaving viewers with a suspenseful finale. Procedural shows introduce a new and specific circumstance that the characters must solve by the end of the episode and can be aired and viewed out of order.
Q: As someone who works at Fox and does a lot of audience testing for shows, why do you think Lost did so well and Alcatraz failed after just one short season??
A: In my opinion I think LOST was a much better show with much better casting. The idea/premise of LOST (in the beginning stages) was very straight forward whereas ALCATRAZ was a much tougher “buy-in” for viewers. So from the very early stages I think LOST had built in advantages that ALCATRAZ did not.
Q: What types of shows do networks prefer to get committed too? Serialized shows, that have more of a thematic storyline or procedural shows that could be watched whenever and out of sequence? Why??
A: That’s a tough question because every network is different. Generally, serialized shows are thought to be much tougher to maintain than procedural’s; however, network look for shows that they believe in more than anything.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the importance of syndication to a network versus syndication to the production itself?
A: Syndication is only important to the network if they or their studio owns the show. NBC doesn’t have much at stake if a WB produced show makes it to syndication.
Q: What impact do you think Netflix and other online streaming site have for shows in the future?
A: That is yet to be determined. In my opinion it’ll impact network viewing somewhat, especially for serialized shows, but that’s a long time from now.
Q: Did you ever watch Lost?? Do you think that the mythology in the story line was a little too complicated for the average viewer?
I didn’t watch LOST at all. I disliked the pilot and never really gave the show a chance. Judging from the ratings it got I think average viewers didn’t find it too complicated at all.