It's easy to rip on G4 right now. Almost two years after the network bought out the (somewhat) beloved TechTV and they slowly but surely eliminated every trace of the tech oriented network. They canceled The Screensavers, losing industry icons Patrick Norton and Leo Laporte and replaced them with Kevin Rose and Sarah Lane. They didn't last long as the show was re-branded and Kevin and Sarah both left. Kevin Rose went on to found Digg and become a paper millionaire and Sarah Lane married a co-worker and is now wondering the Earth.
The folks at G4 weren't done. They then killed off other quality tech shows like Call for Help and replaced them with crappy Fox castoffs and "The Man Show". They did make a few good move by buying the rights to Star Trek and Star Trek:The Next Generation but then crapped all over it with the "2.0" experience. The 2.0 refers to adding message tickers, stock symbols, and small factoids to the screen which making watching the show a nightmare.
The only good move that they've done recently and haven't screwed up is their purchase of the the rights for Arrested Development and then airing it every night in order. This allows lame folks like me who never watched the show to watch the series in order without having to plunk down money on the boxed DVD set. Also having Arrested Development on each night guarantees at least a few intentionally funny moments on the network every day.
Hating aside there actually is a lot to like about G4. It's the only television network that had significant coverage of E3, CES, and the Comic-Cons in San Diego and New York. X-Play is still a decent show when it comes to reviewing games, and Icons (when it's on) is fairly well written. With the news
this week that they were being folded into the E! Network we've come up with a few suggestions to help make the network better and maybe actually increase their ratings.
1- Don't touch Attack of the Show. The show has been on for almost a year and Kevin and Olivia have established good chemistry and the show has found a decent rhythm. The show is a bit oversexed (I'm still waiting for a segment called "Kevin's junk" where the crew explores old gadgets in the back of Kevin's closets or "Playing with Olivia's Pussy" where Olivia helps cats that need new homes). The sex advice is usually interesting and the show is usually fairly entertaining. The Loop is a decent segment but it's way too short to really delve into any of the issues they discuss. Either make the segment longer (at least ten minutes long) or spin it off into it's own bi-weekly show.
2-X-Play is your bread and butter, expand it. I know they are already doing a few new shows a week but X-Play is the G4's crown jewel and it needs more new episodes each week. Keep Adam and Morgan for a few nights a week and then look into bringing in a second cast to do host another version of the show during the week to help take the load off Adam and Morgan. Speaking of Morgan, can we please see her playing games more often? I know I'm in the minority of gamers who believe she actually plays games so it would be nice to get some validation. Also please tone down the number of stupid skits in the show. The show is supposed to be about reviewing games and it's bad when more than 3/4th of your show is watching some interns and actors doing a skit that has little or no bearing on the game review.
3- Realize that a large portion of your audience is over 18 years old. I know that your current demographic is 12-25 but the average age of the gamer is almost a decade older than that. How about a few shows that older geeks can enjoy. Shows like Call for Help and the Screen Savers were interesting because we got to see older gamers playing games and futzing around with technology. I know it's cool to be young but there's an untapped audience of people there.
4- A weekly show that is just gaming news, interviews, and previews. A lot of this stuff gets covered in Attack of the Show but it would be nice to have a dedicated show that could actually go in depth with some of the news stories that come out during the week. I'm not talking about a 60 Minutes like show but an hour a week that explores some of the more technical issues in depth would be fantastic. Maybe this is where an extended version of the Loop would fit.
5- A separate show for TV shows and Movies- Again this is taking some content away from AOTS but there are enough geeky shows on TV and enough nerdy movies in theater and some behind the scenes stuff. Short re-caps of Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, and other nerd favorites would be a great basis. This show could even venture into comic book territory but that's more of my desire to see more of Blair Butler each week than anything else.
6- User created content show - User created content is the big buzzword in the industry and what better way to take advantage of that than to let your viewers have 30-60 minutes of air time each week to show their creations. You'll need a few people to screen the entires and a host to introduce the segments but it should be a fairly easy show to put on. You know all that Star Trek 2.0 crap? This would be the perfect place to re-use it as your own viewers could comment on the stuff put on by each other.
7- Hire Wil Wheaton to do Star Trek Commentary - This will be tough because Wil had a bit of a falling out
with the G4 people a few years over how Arena was handled but you need to do it. Why? Have you read the awesome stuff he's been writing
for TV Squad? This is what you need to do with Star Trek: The Next Generation, hire Wil to do a MST3K like piece with the show with this kind of material. Hell you could even invite some of the cast of the show or some of the extras from some of the episodes to provide more information on what went on behind the scenes. You will probably need somebody to play off him but an hour of this stuff a week would be comedy gold.
8- Buy the rights to Babylon 5, Farscape, and Space: Above and Beyond - These are great sci-fi shows that aren't on TV anywhere else any more and I'm guessing you could probably get them for cheap. I'm guessing Babylon5 is going to be hard to get but pairing that with with the two Star Treks would be a murderers row of great sci-fi programming. Farscape and Space:Above and beyond would make for great late night/weekend filler programming.
9- Follow a game cradle to grave - This show would probably have to be monthly as development cycles aren't exactly fodder for a weekly show but find a small game and follow that bad from until it hits shelves or is available for download. Give gamers some incite into what goes into making a game. Show the good and the bad and explain a little bit about what it takes to get a game to consumers. If you need a weekly show then send two crews out and track two or more games based on how much you have to spend.
10- Change the stereotype - While the content on the network appeals to geeks I get the feeling sometimes that the show feels the need to poke fun at their audience. We get it, geeks are usually fat, nerdy, and don't have a lot of social skills. Instead of poking fun at it why not have a show that takes somebody from their parents basement and into the real world. Tips on fashion, healthy eating, and exercise would be fantastic but don't force them to change hobbies or feel bad about their interests.
I know these suggestions cost money to create but G4 but I think a few of these are doable. G4 is currently our best hope for a dedicated technology/gaming channel and I would hate to see it turn into another SpikeTV. Of course that may be what the folks over at G4 want which makes this list irrelevant but I would hope that people would realize that such a channel has a huge market. You only have to look at the inroads that geek culture has made into mainstream culture for why such a channel is important.