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CBS’ Tests Threshold After DVD Delay

Sometimes mistakes are just innovations without good PR. That might be the case at CBS, which was in a panic last week when an overnight mailing to TV critics of DVDs of some new fall shows failed to arrive on Wednesday as scheduled—or on Thursday morning, as the carrier, DHL, had promised, according to a CBS e-mail explaining the foul-up (“Many of you have already contacted us about this issue, and we once again extend our regrets and apologies”). The note blamed a software glitch at DHL, which fessed up and apologized after CBS formally complained.

The missing packages included the two-hour premiere of Threshold last Friday. Given that critics often have to file their reviews early because many newspaper feature sections are printed in advance, CBS quickly threw the debut episode onto a secure Web site and implored DVD-deprived critics to watch it there.

It was too late for Maureen Ryan, TV writer for the Chicago Tribune, who had a Wednesday deadline (her DVD turned up on Thursday). Ryan based her review on Threshold’s original one-hour pilot. She liked the show—but gives a rave to the idea of streaming shows online for critics. “I hope more networks do this in the future,” Ryan tells B&C via e-mail. “It would beat waiting for the overnight-delivery guy.”

Hal Boedecker of the Orlando Sentinel was less enthusiastic. The image quality of the online version was too murky, he says: “They didn’t do themselves any favors.” Hey, Hal, lose the dial-up and get high-speed.