Dennis Crowley, the CEO and co-founder of Foursquare, has reportedly signed on with television production house Endemol USA (Deal or No Deal) to create a show based on the popular locative social network. There’s no word as to the format or structure of the show, but word is the Foursquare app will be “meaningfully integrated.” This could mean anything from an AMAZING RACE-style competition to a SUPERMARKET SWEEP-type bargain hunting game show.
A TV show. From an iPhone app. I can imagine the sales pitch: “Hey, people watch TV shows via iPhone apps — the reverse should also be true, right?”
We get it, Hollywood: you jump on whatever the hot trend is and try to milk it for all its worth. How many related TV shows have emerged since the video game eruption in the early 80’s? (SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, PAC MAN, POKEMON…need I go on?) Or, God help us, the infamous “Battle of the Bands” punk rock vs. disco episode of CHiPs?
Point is, most of this coattail-riding doesn’t produce quality TV. Smartphone apps and social networks are hot right now. The Facebook movie was a critical and commercial hit. Three quarters of the planet is on Twitter at this very moment. So a show based on the tweeted un-PC rantings of a Vietnam war vet should be a success, right?
Um, not really. CBS’s $#*! My Dad Says, based on the Twitter feed of the same (uncensored) name, may be a modest hit in the ratings, but it was automatically hobbled by the fact that it’s on broadcast TV — never mind being dumbed down into a rote sitcom. If it had wound up on a premium cable channel like HBO or Showtime — or even a risk-taking cable-plus network like FX — then it could be an edgier, unfettered show. As it stands now, it’s just an excuse for William Shatner to be a weak-tea Archie Bunker 2K10.
All is not hopeless, however. The smash hit phone game Angry Birds is being eyed for a small- or big-screen adaptation. Now, this could absolutely work as a Saturday morning cartoon — provided the right network was involved: Cartoon Network, say, or even Nickelodeon (whose kid-friendly demeanor hasn’t stopped shows like iCarly from slipping a ton of stuff past the censors).
But not as an excuse to shill toys or breakfast cereal. Please, God, no.