"Nobody's Watching" ???

In just one more display of the powers of sites like YouTube, rumor has it that television networks might be reconsidering its decision to not air the sitcom "Nobody's Watching"

For those of you who have never seen it, "Nobody's Watching" is written by Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, who have previously written for "Scrubs" and "Family Guy." The pilot shows were developed for the (now defunct) WB network, who passed on the show after its testing phase.

But the pilots were put on YouTube....and you can guess the rest. Here's a clip that I especially enjoy:

Millions of views later, NBC expressed interest in developing the show. So far, they have only committed to 'webisodes', which might actually be the best format for "Nobody's Watching." After all, its overall plot is a little watery...a sitcom with a reality show format, where two young Midwestern guys bumble their way through the studio lot on a desperate mission to create hilarity.

What actually surprises me here is that NBC didn't leap at the chance to put "Nobody's Watching" into production. The internet's ability to turn 'just some dude' into a celebrity with a cult following of millions is the stuff of legend. The Old Media people don't always understand what their target market will buy into, and use the web as an indication of popularity.

Just yesterday, I heard a story about two students who created a sitcom. They took it off to Hollywood and in every meeting they took, were told to, literally, rip up the treatment. It was just that bad. Not unlike "Nobody's Watching", the thing made a splash online and otherwise reticent producers reverse themselves immediately.

We've seen the same transition in print media. Frankly, I just sit back and laugh as this all unfolds, waiting for the next "Million Little Pieces" debacle to unfold. After all, in the gray area between Old Media and New Media, what folks on both sides of the line seem to forget is that pesky little thing known as format.

I've got some favorite blogs that I check out almost daily. But I truly don't know that I would want to read anything longer than a couple thousand words at a time. After all, we don't expect poets to write fiction novels, why the push to see bloggers do it? Hey, because I wrote a piece today on food puzzles for pets, should I now cross over into becoming America's most authorative source on pet nutrition? Should I hire a publicist to squeeze me on the couch between Oprah and that pet whisperer guy?

In much the same fashion, a funny two minutes from "Nobody's Watching" or similar online phenomenon doesn't mean someone should turn it into a thirty-minute sitcom. This certainly doesn't mean that I don't find my favorite bloggers or the "Nobody's Watching" folks to be incredibly talented. But the other overlooked element in trying to convert the formats is user preference. I don't normally have a book sitting next to my computer, to amuse myself with a quick couple of pages. Instead, I'll click open a blog.

Perhaps everyone should adjust their expectations. Maybe folks in New Media should do what they do best--push the envelope in a format in which they thrive--rather than try to achieve acclaim in a parallel universe. Ask the majority of SNL's most popular alum's about how their movie cross-overs went. Most of those stories won't be pretty.

What do you think, o esteemed internet community?