Rob Owen On The Big Box Zeitgeist; CSI:NY - When Stodgy Networks Try Kewl

A number of television characters work in mind numbing big box stores these days.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Rob Owen takes a fun look at the big box zeitgeist in a recent blog post.

Tomorrow night The Tiffany Network’s CSI: NY makes a faintly desperate bid for younger viewers by going “Second Life.”  Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) enters the virtual world of Second Life to solve a crime.

I hadn’t paid much attention to this latest CBS gambit.  I’ve made no secret of my dislike of the sleazy and gratuitous CSI: NY, with their chatter about pubic hair found on calendar pages, scantily clad dead women pinned to walls, and rock bands called Rough Sects.

But my husband and I were watching CBS’ 60 Minutes the other night, so the latest CSI:NY promo was unavoidable.  (Highly recommended, however, is Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minute segment on "Plumpynut, an unusual name for a food that may just be the most important advance ever to cure and prevent malnutrition.”  Cooper traveled to Niger to cover the story.  Cooper’s talents are sometimes wasted on CNN’s AC 360 but this is Cooper at his best.  You can watch it on-line here.)

The CSI:NY promos showed a bunch of sword-fighting avatars, and - typically for CSI -  a beautiful, sexy, scantily clad and very dead female “vic” (victim). 

Then, suddenly, a close up of Sinise.  Bellows Sinise:  “Log Off!!!  Now!!!”

I looked at my husband, he looked at me…and we burst out laughing.

My husband pointed his thumb and forefinger at me in the shape of a gun and yelled: ”Drop that mouse! Now!!”

Which, of course, sent us into another round of silly giggles.

Seriously, the CBS promo is SNL fodder.  NBC should steal it.

The CBS hype firehose is crankin’.  On October 4, the NY Times reported: At CBS Anthony Zuiker is the house savant of cool….When Mr. Smith [Quincy Smith, the president of CBS Interactive] and several other CBS executives brought up the concept of working Second Life into CSI: NY, Mr. Zuiker said he leapt at the chance, even though, at that point, all he knew about Second Life was what he had read about it in an article in Spirit, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines…

Maybe Mr. Zuiker also doesn’t know that Second Life has had its share of problems lately, including a gambling ban, insider theft at the World Stock Exchange and a run on the virtual bank, Ginko Financial.

Wells Fargo closed up shop after flocks of virtually created male genitalia invaded a CNET SL interview with Anshe Chung (the avatar of SL entrepreneur Ailin Graef).

Today’s headline in the Wall Street Journal:  "Marketers Explore New Virtual Worlds: Some Create Own As Second Life Site Loses Some Luster.”

"We’ve moved beyond just Second Life," said Ruben Steiger chief executive of Millions of Us, a Sausalito California company that builds campaign for marketers in virtual worlds….

despite the intense media attention, Second Life has failed to draw significant amounts of traffic.  The number of U.S. unique visitors to the site who used the software application that’s necessary to interact in the virtual world numbered 235,000 last month.

Additional SNL fodder:  CNN’s Nancy Grace is 24/7 SNL fodder, but last night during her coverage of the California wildfires this graphic popped up in the lower right corner:

"Next: Dead Baby in Attic."