April 23, 2009

Thoughts on "Pitchmen," Episode Two

Thanks to a DVR malfunction, I didn't watch the premier of Pitchmen until it was too late to post about it. (Of course, I should have been at the premier party, to which I was invited, but such is life when you have two small children.) Anyway, I had no such problems last night and in fact caught the second episode of Pitchmen live. Here are my thoughts:

For the second episode in a row, Billy came off looking a bit like a prima donna and/or an egotist. He refused to do demos, complained about Sully having more lines and passed out signed pictures of himself. I've known Billy for a long time, and he's one of the most down-to-earth people in this business, so it's a false characterization. I hope we get to see more of Billy's true nature in future episodes. He is a genuinely nice, humble guy who has one of the smallest egos in the industry (which is full of egos).

This episode also made him look like a chicken again. Last week, he wouldn't let a car run over his hand (Impact Gel demo). This week, he wouldn't let Sully's crew weld him into a box (Dual Saw demo). But that's not the Billy I know, either. I think later episodes will correct this perception. Until then, check out the What Odor commercial or the Mighty Mendit commercial for proof that Billy isn't afraid to do his own stunts!

As for Sully, the best parts of his personality shone through: He was good natured, quick-witted and seemed generally fun to be around. His temper only had a brief cameo during the "time crunch" segment of the Shuffles project, but we've certainly all been there!

On another bright note, the interplay between Billy and Sully is coming off well, in my opinion. You can tell these guys have worked together for a long time and treat each other like brothers, complete with the occasional "family feud." Generally speaking, I also felt the second episode was better than the first, but that might have a lot to do with the Dual Saw (great item) and its inventor, a very sympathetic character. You wanted him to succeed.

Moving on, I think readers of this blog will be most interested in knowing how an industry insider like me views what happens on the show. Do things really go down like that? Is this REAL reality TV? So starting with this post, I'll be commenting each week from that perspective.

Regarding last night, the show created the false impression that a client sees a commercial for the first time at Sully's or Billy's office and is not expected to make any changes. Christen Hagan, the Shuffles inventor, is portrayed as an annoyance because -- on what appears to be her first viewing of the spot -- she thinks it's only 99% right. The Frenchman flies in from abroad to see his Dual Saw infomercial and gives it 100% the first time. In reality, no spot or infomercial is ever 100% the first time, and we use modern technologies like email to review commercials and suggest changes from the comfort of our own offices (even if they're in France). Moreover, "pickup shots" and re-shoots are more the norm than the exception! The experienced clients make just as many changes as the newbies (if not more).

More such insights to follow. Overall, however, my biggest concern about the show has to do with how interesting the DRTV process will be to outsiders. I've spoken to quite a few industry people about this, and they feel the same way. We live and breathe DRTV, yet many of us found the show to be slow in places. How will the average Joe react?

Perhaps he will be riveted when we are bored because this is all new to him. Or maybe he will change the channel. We'll see. I have no gut on this one because I am hopelessly biased. So feel free to post your thoughts, whether you are an insider or an outsider.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy the show. I've seen both episodes so far. One thing I really didn't like about the second show was the fact that they actually agreed to make a commercial for Shuffles (which I thought was a horrible idea!). I have a difficult time believing that anyone could possibly think that was an invention worth working with. I do wonder if they would have picked it up had the inventor not been attractive.

    Billy Mayes is not at all like I expected him to be. I think him and Sully both need to work on their attitudes. All in all though it's a show I'll more than likely continue to watch. It definately is addicting.