Banal starter: the medium defines the constraints.
I think about late night talk shows, and how far they’ve fallen since my childhood. They used to be the cornerstone of tv culture, bisecting news, celebrity, music, and skits.
But in this maturation of the internet, more specialized formats have eaten away at the talk show’s vaudeville medley of things.
Looking at Tiktok’s 15 second videos, the skits on late shows seem belabored or overwrought.
Twitter does snippy takes on news better, faster, and wider.
Celebrity manages itself now on Instagram.
And YouTube ate up the music space.
Ultimately on a macro scale, the internet which connects all these different platforms effectively re-created a 24/7 late night show that’s far more nimble and targeted to its audience (since the audience effectively became the producer of the show, curating the timing and the sequencing)
A look backwards has TV feeling more like glorified radio than the medium of choice just a few decades ago.
So what can TV do? Theoretically, it can offer a tighter package than what the internet can. Its built-in infrastructure of connections to celebrity and guests is more robust. It’s organizing time unit is 30 and 60 minutes blocks, so its depth can be deeper than the 15 second video.
But often it’s beholden to its tradition of segments and worst trying to imitate the internet by further atomize its skits into viral clips.
My hypothesis would be to embrace its length and depth. We see it in the experiments of the Daily Show spin-offs. The Samantha Bee’s and John Oliver’s doing long format monologues.
But I would also play with the other segments. Do 60 minute hip hop cypher with a medley of artists, intermixing off-the-cuff interviews as they rotate off. Long interviews but place them in the middle of a live sketching session with the production artists of the movie being promoted. (Extra credit: live stream each artist on a simultaneous Twitch stream.) Do weird how-to skits that are innuendos. (Like do sailboat knot-tying tutorials, but practice on a person suspended in the air. So it’s actually a kink tutorial.) Be more than just radio. Make use of the visual space. Dance with the guests while talking. Build a skating ramp while interviewing guests.
Do things only people with a budget can. Do a song medley while cooking quick meals for each guest. Toggle between interviewing them before the next artist does their song. Interview stunt doubles while doing stunts. Pretend you’re hungover and do an entire show with an overhead camera, and you’re lying down in a hammock.
Flow the show so the 60 minutes are actually not divisible. That the last five don’t really make sense unless you know the first five.
Banal ending: what are the true constraints of the medium, and that’s where the opportunities are.