Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Hulu Blues: Kitchen Confidential
Back in the pre-internet TV days of 2005 two shows debut featuring cast members of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I was never a Buffy fan but I remember this because EW did a cover story on the new shows and they both turned out to be pretty.
Alison Hannigan made her way over to How I Met Your Mother
and Nicholas Brendon moseyed on over to a show called Kitchen Confidential, a comedy about a bad-by top cheff (then-new face Bradly Cooper) resurrecting his career at a New York City high end restaurant. To this day I'm a Bradly Cooper apologist due to this show.
The reviews for both shows were not stellar, but solid, and in little time they joined Lost and 24 on my "list of shows I watch." In time, however, KC dwindled and died, failing to find an audience while HIMYM flourished to the CBS staple it now is (recently renewed through 2012, hallelujah!).
Not soon after KC's cancellation, ABC did something absolutely unheard of. Each week, they would put the new episode of Lost available for online streaming, for free. I remember. I remember sitting at the kitchen counter of Alpha Heights, watching Lost on my tablet PC and reading weekly after weekly about industry bosses nearly soiling themselves in the outright terror of what ABC's actions would cause. Just like how the mp3 player was going to end all musical creation (snort), free online TV was going to spell the end as we knew it of primetime television.
Obviously, that didn't happen. What DID happen is that in time more shows were placed online and then in 2007 Fox, NBC, and ABC merged together to form the golden goose that is Hulu and the way in which Americans watch television changed forever. Now, the viewership advantage of Broadcast Television over Cable is routinely being decimated, and people need not worry about setting their VCR's (their what?) or DVR's to record missed programming. What's more, online viewing alows for viewership tracking even if no one is actually tuning in.
And that brings us back to KC.
I find myself wondering lately wether a show like Firefly, Sports Night, or KC would be able to succeed in today's market. Firefly specifically, because the short-lived critical darling premiered on Friday nights (a.k.a the Elephant Graveyard of TV) and was truly doomed to fail. Were the show on today, the horrible time slot would be mitigated by Browncoats' ability to catch the show any day of the week at their own convenience. It's all speculation of course, but I can't help but think that we would have seen Serenity fly a second season.
While Hulu and Netflix came too late to save these shows, they've done the next best thing. Cancelled loves from yesteryear like KC, Firefly, Arrested Development (the second greatest show ever created, after Seinfeld. Fact.) and Better off Ted (ok, not that old but still tragically cut short) are available for our viewing pleasure. If you ever have 22 spare minutes, check out all 13 episodes of KC here. The pilot is a little choppy, but overall I've give the show a B+