Network Fall TV Ads: My Hits & Misses

Every year when the pumpkin spice lattes and the premature Xmas decorations come out, it’s also time to watch for the network TV fall premieres. Great! I have my favorites and my pre-favorites, based on auspices I like and scripts that I enjoyed.

But we have a problem. With these premieres come big publicity budgets, and I’ve been seeing some very questionable uses of ad dollars. Check out the billboards/print ads/splash pages below that I consider inspired, tired and need-to-be-thrown-in-the-fire:

1) The typography is a shoddy embarrassment. Shameful example of using personality-free lettering and missing an opportunity to sell the idea further with another detail.

2) The boots are distracting and make me think of the Liz Phair lyric from “Polyester Bride”: “Do you want to find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?” We get it, Rebecca’s irreverent and puts her podiatric comfort first! Or maybe she asked Henry (her bartending friend) about the ghastly boots and he tricked her into wearing them as payback for her years of rudely mooching free drinks.

3) Similarly, there is too much jewelry and it’s distracting. Is she wearing a diamond “right hand ring” in the shape of a swan’s head? And what about those gummy rocker bracelets that they banned from my middle school because the principal was concerned that they were street code for being promiscuous (1 bracelet per conquest)? (Side note: I had hundreds of those bracelets b/c I kept buying packs of 20 of them at the Icing’s “10 for $5” sale. Which may make me a trollop … of bargains!)

4) Ms. Walsh is blessed with a lovely hairshade (maybe she’s born with it / maybe it’s Garnier Olia). Yet this styling screams “Your stylist secretly hates you, and as she did your hair for this photo she cackled vengefully like a maniac!”

5) FI-NA-LLY, and this is what originally made me object to the ad when I saw it on Olympic Blvd.: The slogan needs to be “Upholding the rules by day. Breaking the rules by night.” Not “them” in the second sentence. The phrase repetition is key to enforce the badness of Bad Judge (tried to make a snappy name for her here – “Judge Badass” as a play on “Judge Mathis”? “Judge Rhinestone” as a play on “Judge Reinhold”? Nevermind, can’t be saved)! Isn’t her “delicious duality” the whole point of all the design choices listed 1-4 above?


Have you seen these ads around town, spoofing magazine covers? Strong concept. Some savvy publicist stretched the ad dollars even further by finagling this Variety article on the campaign, too.

Magazines are a touch passé, though. Perhaps if they had done a fake Buzzfeed article called: "The 22 Global Criminals You MUST Pursue!" or something. Then again, even Buzzfeed is passé now. The world is happening so fast!

Magazines are a touch passé, though. Perhaps if they had done a fake Buzzfeed article called: “The 22 Global Criminals You MUST Pursue!” or something. Then again, even Buzzfeed is passé now. The world is happening so fast!

But wait a minute, it feels just a little familiar.

These are from 2008!

These are from 2008!

Side-by-side comparison REALLY isn't flattering. The DEXTER ones, besides being first, make better use of typography and have much smarter fake article headings.

Side-by-side comparison REALLY isn’t flattering. The DEXTER ones, besides being first, make better use of typography and have much smarter fake article headings. Also, per the collage above, those ads covered a greater number of magazines. And they chose more highfalutin ones, too!


I enjoyed this script a lot more than I thought I would, so that’s a strong testament to its quality. Then again, everyone already wants to hate this silly thing for the flimsy-seeming concept (which feels like it will have all the longevity and memorability of fig season, or George Clooney’s matrimonial vows to his new beard … I mean political prop … I mean the future first lady of California). In this scary, uncertain world — where the only thing we can count on is the terrifying persistence of ebola — why set yourself up for failure? Why build an entire show around a weirdly retro concept that merely emphasizes the worst qualities of our current society? On the bright side, the show could become a really handy document to show future historians when they ask: “What specific element of American popular culture caused our new Chinese overlords to take one dismissive look at Western society and destory it wholesale?” (The question, of course, will be asked in flawless Mandarin, the new lingua franca if we keep producing shows like this.)

Anyway, on an aesthetics level, poor Karen Gillan (the lead actress) appears to have joined the BAD JUDGE School of Inexplicably Untamed Auburn Locks. In the future, everyone will be obscured by a flame-hued ingénue for 15 minutes.

The typography is straight out of one of those Kotex commercials where they employ ever-more cringe-worthy analogies to emphasize just how effective their cotton is at stopping endometrial typhoons.

The top 65% of John Cho’s face looks cute.


OMG, Becky, look at his unclear antecedent ("one" fights "their"?). The demon is probably his disgruntled 3rd grade grammar teacher.

OMG, Becky. Look at his unclear antecedent. (“Everyone” fights “their”?). The demons are his former grammar teachers.


marry me

I HATE Casey’s hand pose (I found it so aggressive when I wasn’t engaged; now that I’m engaged I continue to find it ostentatious, materialistic and maddeningly metonymic, like, “I got the RING! Activate Pretty Pretty Princess life from here to the coffin!”). But this was my absolute favorite pilot script of this crop.

Years ago when I read the HAPPY ENDINGS pilot (which David Caspe, creator of MARRY ME, also wrote), I went on a mad Google spree because it was hilarious and I wanted to know what steps to take to become him. I didn’t find a lot of information then. But now that he is married to an actress, there are more articles than I ever asked for covering each breathless update of his and his wife’s meetings with their financial planner. Good for him for getting his due notoriety. I can only hope that when I get my hit show on the air, People magazine charts each step of my tortured decision to go with a Roth over traditional IRA.



This is cute-ish, kinda. I think I saw Ben Feldman (the “Z”) at Dulles airport this summer. I don’t understand why we’re to hang an entire show on the fact two people have initials that bookend the alphabet. Then again, my last name sounds like a synonym for excrement, so I’m not an easy sell on the whole “assigning tons of augury and adorableness to something as random as your name.”



She can dream:

1) That the graphic designer redesigns the copy with a font that’s a touch less “Welcome to Color Me Mine”

2) For a tagline that isn’t so clichéd

3) That Ariana Grande sees her one right-side dimple (side note: WHY are we so darn close into poor Cristela’s face? This better not be a show about her quest to find the perfect poreless-look foundation) and requests that Cristela and Ariana be surgically joined so that they both face the world with their one dimpled cheek facing out at all times.

I just don’t get why we are so close into her face. On another note, I really liked this pilot and think it will be a hit.


All this show’s ads are really spooky and evocative. But they’re basically all warning me not to watch, because I’m too Pollyanna for stuff like this.



This is a very effective ad! I am always rooting for Maggie Q — even though I keep reading blind items saying she is a crazy diva — because we have a roughly identical nationality blend. (Ethnic twinsies!)

I hope her stalker doesn’t get confused and hunt me instead.

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