Everybody is a blogger these days, even television characters.
It’s not new for TV shows to have blogs: Rockstar INXS, for example, published blogs for each member of INXS and the “rocker” contestants, most of whom posted updates throughout the series. TV blogs like this give a behind-the-scenes peek at the show’s working, add context, and most importantly connect further with the viewer, helping keep him interested — hopefully enough to keep watching and maintain the show’s ratings. One can’t expect them to be the most candid blogs on the web, but they can at least be interesting.
But I was surprised to see a “Blogs” menu option on the site for the USA Network’s Monk. According to the site, “Monk blogs offer a fresh perspective from the minds who make Monk the obsessive-compulsive detective we love and from characters like Natalie and Capt. Stottlemeyer who suffer because of it.”
So far there is just one blog: that of Natalie Teeger, Monk’s assistant. That is, not the actress playing Natalie but the fictional assistant herself.
Blog purists abhor fictional blogs, but I am for anything that entertains and engages site visitors. (For an excellent case study and more thoughts on the controversies over blogs by fictional characters, check out “All I Want for Christmas is a Blog Gone Bad,” by Georgia Patrick at Duct Tape Marketing.
So the problem with Natalie’s blog isn’t that it’s fictional — it’s that it’s boring.
In truth it’s no more boring than most of the blogs on the web, but it has so much potential that it doesn’t fulfill. Natalie could reference events in recent or past episodes; continue the storylines for subplots; tell us more about herself or her daughter.
Even better, she could invite viewers to suggest ways to cope with Adrian Monk. Maybe viewer comments could be tied into a promotional event, with the prize being to visit the set of the show and meet the cast — a mystery for which Monk needs help, and the viewers get extra clues through the blogs, maybe discuss in comments or on a moderated message board.
Instead, we get what looks to be a rejected subplot, repackaged as a whiny blog rant. It’s a missed opportunity so far; then again, it’s still a new element of the Monk site. I am impressed that the network experiments with promotional concepts like character blogs and web exclusives. Maybe they have bigger and better plans for the blogs in the future. Stay tuned.