Random Thoughts

Get on the Global Frequency!

by Mattias Våglin

A TV show with tens of thousands of fans doesn’t sound that remarkable does it? 10. 000 doesn’t even register on the radar when it comes to TV. Unless we’re talking millions it’s all crap, more or less. So how come a little show called Global Frequency is generating so much buzz due to it’s fan base that both Wired and the English version of Metro have written articles about it? The answer is quite simple, the show has never aired on television.

Think about that for a while. A show that has never been shown publicly has enough people buzzing about it that two significant publications have written about it and if you scout various blogs and sites that deal with TV you’ll find numerous more mentions of it. Let’s just say it one more time. Never. Been. Aired. I know I’m being repetitive, but this is a point that needs to be hammered down. I’m done now though, so let’s move on. So what’s up?

The answer is quite simple – the Internet is up. A copy of the pilot of the aforementioned show managed to make it’s way onto BitTorrent (and probably other file sharing networks as well, but BitTorrent is getting all the credit for this one), something that isn’t all that unusual. A lot of shows have their pilots on the web (I’ve seen at least three others), but there is something unique about this case. Most other pilots that surface are for shows schedule to air in the fall, but Global Frequency was never picked up.

The pilot was ordered by The WB and things seemed to be moving along greatly and the show was about to get picked up, when The WB changed its board of directors. The new board apparently didn’t like Global Frequency very much so it got canned and forgotten. Until it appeared online that is.

Global Frequency is based on a comic by Warren Ellis with the same name, a comic I loved. And since the show is very true to the comic, I naturally loved that as well. It’s about a former super-spy who decides to drop out of the spy-game and start an organization that can deal with the terrors left behind from the cold war. Threats against humanity that ordinary people don’t want to know about. For example, the pilot had a man with some innate telekinetic ability that got a chip planted into his head to make it more efficient, only the chip is malfunctioning and turns him into a human timebomb, with power enough to blow up San Francisco. To help combat these threats, Miranda Zero (the former spy) enlists not other spies, but ordinary people. Or at least fairly ordinary. Or as is said in the show: “If you’re the best at what you do, no matter what it is that you do, one day Miranda Zero will come knocking at your door”. So she’s got scientists, ex-cops, teachers and so on working for her. Any one of them can be called upon at anytime to save the world.

So is the show any good? I’ve already said I loved it so I’m a bit biased, but yeah. It’s a very good show. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be improved, but it’s still much better than the majority of shows out there. Now, I can’t recommend anyone to do anything illegal, but if you get the chance go see for yourself. But remember, only download the pilot if it’s legal to do so in your country (it actually was in Sweden when it appeared online, the law banning downloading didn’t go into effect until the day after, so yeah, I’ve seen it).

Now, I’m not writing this just to vent about a show too good not to be picked up (although that’s part of it), what intrigues me is that this show could be what forces network television to evolve. People are contacting the shows producer, asking where they can buy a legal copy of the pilot (something that’s not available). And if it’s something that gets the network’s attention it’s talking through your wallet. If the pilot gets put on DVD and sells as well as it downloads, a whole new market opens up for the TV networks – the direct to DVD market. But again, it’s not really what I am interested in the most (although it IS an interesting side effect).

What interests me is rather the fact that fans are generating so much buzz for a show that the network execs are forced to pay attention. People want this show and they want it bad. And even if it won’t ever be made, I think network TV will have to strongly consider releasing all their pilots on the web in some form, something that will tell them what shows people will actually watch instead of just guessing.

Now, the most ironical part comes if this show actually gets made. Then a show about ordinary people pitching in and doing their part will have been saved by just that. Ordinary people doing their part. If that isn’t an effective ad-campaign right there I don’t know what is. And if it is saved, a lot of things are going to change (which is an argument why it won’t, networks fear change).

So get the show (if it’s available to you legally), check out the sites linked below and start spreading the word.

Links (will open in a new window):
Global Frequency on TV.com
Kung Fu Monkey, the blog of Global Frequency’s producer, Johan Rogers where he puts out updates on what is happening with the show.
Frequencysite.com, a fan site that drives a campaign to get the show on the air
Wired’s article
A scan of the article in Metro

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