Sunday, April 4, 2010


This past week's episode of 'Modern Family' was a half-hour long plug for the new iPad, which came out Saturday. (I know that drove my blogging buddy Joe Bua crazy!)

Also this week, Toyota made its push to regain the public's acceptance by getting plugs for their vehicles into a couple of FOX TV shows. 'Human Target' at least did it right. No obvious dialogue about the virtues of the new Carolla; just a short scene of Christopher Chance enjoying the drive to the target area, with the music from the car's new sound system. Lots of imagery of how the car handled the back roads.

On 'Bones', however, the product placement couldn't be clunkier as Angela Montenegro talked about the Sienna.

Why do you drive a minivan? Do you have kids that we don't know about?
I'm an artist, Daisy, and this Sienna has plenty of room. Plus I stink at parallel parking, and that back-up camera thing is like the invention of the century.


But it gave me an idea for a Deep Six list....


Might as well go with a golden oldie first. The show ran commercial free, because the blipverts from the U.S. Tobacco Company were integrated right into the show. The cops brought fragile evidence into Happy's tobacco shop to discuss the case, rather than to the police station, just so everybody could see the many products offered by the company: Old Briar pipe tobacco, Dill's Best, Sano cigarettes, and Encore cigarettes.
2] 'FRIENDS' - "The One With The Apothecary Table"
When this aired in 2000, it seemed to signal the arrival of the product placement overdose - with whole episodes geared towards a particular product. In this case, it was the company Pottery Barn, as Phoebe was finally won over by the items available in the store. There was a lot of criticism at the time about it, but Peter Roth of Warner Bros. played down the criticism by stating that the deal struck with Pottery Barn "offset the high cost of production."
3] 'EUREKA' - "Here Come The Suns" (but the third season in total)
When Eva Thorne took command of the town of Eureka and Global Dynamics, she instituted the concept of being underwritten by outside companies. And so the devil's pact with Degree deodorant began. The anti-perspirant was seen over and over again when Sheriff Carter suffered a "Groundhog Day" crisis; Zane was experimenting with the stuff; "Degree" decals were seen all over equipment. But the worst was this episode where it was Degree that ended up saving the day!

TV Guide wasn't too happy either:
Jeer to Eureka, one of my favorite shows, for indulging in product placement. This season, the producers apparently came to an agreement with the makers of Degree deodorant to display their logo at every opportunity. Not only is it disappointing, but it is annoying, and distracting to deal with in an otherwise quality show.
4] 'THE OFFICE' - "Benihana Christmas"
Andy took Michael to Benihana, which Michael called an Asian Hooters, to help him forget his recent troubles. Dwight and Jim also came along at Michael's request, and Dwight tried to impress the chef with his knowledge of Japanese knives. It wasn't the first time Benihana showed up in a TV sitcom - 'Soap' and 'Friends' took place in the restaurant as well, although I think it was only implied that they were Benihana restaurants. (And since both of those shows took place in the general NYC area, it might be possible that it was the same one in both.)
5] 'BONES' - "The Gamer In The Grease"
This aired the night before the movie opened. Here's a description from Fisher the Aggressively Melancholic Intern (FAMI for short) scores tickets to "Avatar," and invites Sweets and Hodgins. First, there's an ad for "Avatar" during the commercials. Back on the show, commence actual "Avatar" footage being shown, complete with reverent comments about the CGI, and phrases like "this is so much more than a movie." Yeah. And they basically keep talking about the amazing significance of "Avatar" throughout the episode, as they camp out in shifts to get good seats.

The in-joke was that Joel David Moore plays Colin Fisher, and he's also a supporting actor in "Avatar". By the time the line starts moving to get into the theater, Fisher stays behind in the tent he brought along to make out with some tattooed chick. It would have been interesting to see Fisher's reaction upon seeing an actor on the movie screen who looked exactly like him.
6] 'MODERN FAMILY' - "Game Changer"
Might as well conclude with the episode that sparked this Deep Six list. Phil's birthday coincided with the release of the iPad, and his wife Claire scrambled to find him one as a present after she failed to get in line in time to buy it that morning.

This is a brilliant show, but such product placement did it a disservice. The other plots proved to be funnier because they weren't so tainted with such schilling. But at least we did get one Toobworld-worthy nugget out of the episode - because Phil Dunphy's birthday was on the same day as the iPad's release, we now know that he was born on April 3rd.


No comments: