NBC just took a big gamble. The network signed a contract to create original, episodic content specifically for Snapchat. This means existing franchises like The Voice, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live will create special segments exclusively for Snapchat.
Remember when “webisodes” were a thing, around 2008? While standalone web series like Broad City and High Maintenance have established audiences and transitioned from the web to TV, attempts to reverse-engineer watching habits from TV to web haven’t exactly worked. For instance, NBC made Heroes webisodes between seasons, and if I drew a graph plotting Heroes’ narrative quality and viewership numbers against the release dates for its infernal webisodes, it would be a line plummeting downward, covered in flames. If you lean in very, very close to the graph, you can hear Milo Ventimiglia screaming.
Best-case scenario, the Snapchat webisodes will be semi-tolerable ads for these existing franchises, but wrangling actors and writers to make additional content to serve as disappearing teasers is an expensive, labor-intensive way to make glorified commercials.
I never thought I’d say this, but something nice should happen to Adam Levine. Don’t make The Voice coaches get out of bed for this. Let Fallon stay in his jammies, just this once. Instead, NBC should fulfill its multiyear contract with Snapchat in another way: Frasier 2.
Yes. Frasier 2. A spinoff of a spinoff that went off the air over a decade ago. Instead of exhausting its current franchises, NBC should take this opportunity to connect teens with its greatest “Must See TV” farcical Seattle-based sitcom by putting the pilot for its latest nostalgic reboot on Snapchat.
Consider the facts:
- Teens love Friends, another long-running NBC sitcom from the ’90s about white people drinking coffee, falling in love, and hanging out in well-appointed apartments. Teens would love Frasier too, if only they’d discover it … Snapchat Discover it, that is.
- The cast of Frasier is mostly available. That’s not a dig; I think it’s a shame. In 2017, David Hyde Pierce is set to guest star on Julie Andrews’s new Netflix show. What sort of fate is this for the man who held our hand and our hearts through a high-wire romance as the delicate yet passionate Niles Crane pursued the strong-willed yet daffy Daphne, obliterating class lines and the requirements of basic personality compatibility for true love? An unfair one. Hot in Cleveland got canned, so Jane Leeves can come back as Daphne. Plus, while Kelsey Grammer has a supporting role in Amazon’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, something tells me he can toss the salad and scramble the eggs for a paycheck once more. (That “something” is “money.”)
- NBC doesn’t even have to write the plot of Frasier 2 because I already have it ready to go: Frasier and Roz start a podcast network, “The Fraz,” but they run into financial trouble because Frasier is ethically opposed to doing Squarespace ads. “I find their aesthetic tedious,” he says. Niles and Daphne swoop in at the last minute to save the network, with riches from their digital couples’ seminar “How to Repair Your Relationship Using Jungian Telepathy” — but it comes with strings attached. Niles is on a real Garrison Keillor kick, and he wants to launch a radio variety show. He needs Frasier’s expertise. The brothers form a reluctant business arrangement. Marty, their father, is dead.
Young people aren’t going to start tuning in to see Fallon explaining his latest hand injury because they saw him in a Snapchat bit. I’m not sure anybody is going to start watching more TV because of something they saw on Snapchat, but while NBC is under pressure to deliver original content, why not attempt to give Frasier the late-in-life relevancy resurgence that Friends is experiencing?