Before Netflix in 2013 premiered House of Cards (as well as continuing Arrested Development, which made a big splash at the time) and suddenly the future of Internet TV was a huge thing. Now, full series were being made exclusively for the Internet. However, before Netflix’s original experiment, the major broadcast and cable networks released mostly web series tie-ins to their TV shows. Now, mostly forgotten, but for a time, many popular shows had a short online Web series to tie into to the show. Here are some examples:
Monk was a 2002-2009 USA Network series about an obsessive-compulsive man who was a consultant for the San Francisco police department, a former police officer who cracked after his wife was killed. In 2009, during the final season, on their network website, USA Network premiered ten webisodes about Little Monk, who as a boy was called upon as a little detective to find missing items. The web videos average about 3 minutes in length.
Scrubs was a medical comedy show starring Zack Braff as J.D., who starts out in season one as an Intern and works his way up in the medical world, along with his friends. In 2009, in the show’s eighth season, ABC premiered a Web series, called Scrubs: Interns, which followed four new medical interns. The main character from this series was Sonja or “Sunny,” who recorded the “webisodes” in the form of a video diary, along with the other interns Katie, Denise “Jo” and Howie. Many of the main characters in the ABC series would appear in one webisode each. The web videos lasted 3-5 minutes in length.
Lost was a supernatural show about a group of people who crash landed on a mysterious island where unusual things start happening. In 2007 and 2008, between the third and fourth season, Lost: Missing Pieces premiered. Originally, the short webisodes were available to Verizon Wireless users, and then a week later they would be posted on ABC.com. The videos, which were all original (except for one which was a deleted scene), did not have a single plotline but instead were short scenes provided new character insight. The web videos lasted one to two minutes in length.
The Office, about the Dunder Mifflin office workers, premiered in 2005. The show had a total of nine different Web series that tied into the show. The first was a ten-webisode series (premiered in the summer of 2006) called Office: The Accountants, which followed the supporting characters the accountants who must find out how $3000 went missing. The second, in 2008, was a 4-webisode series called Kevin’s Loan and focuses on Kevin, who needs to pay back gambling debts. Number 3, lasting 4 webisodes, premiered in winter 2008, was called The Outburst, and follows Oscar’s outburst and the investigation following the incident. Number 4, a four-episode series in May 2009, was called Blackmail and focused on Oscar blackmailing four different people. Web series five, 3 webisodes which premiered in October 2009, was called Subtle Sexuality and focused on Kelly and Erin forming the band Subtle Sexuality and making a music video. Web series six was the Mentor (March 2010), a 4-webisode series about Erin mentoring Angela. Web series seven gave us 3-webisode series The 3rd Floor (October 2010), about Ryan’s attempt to make a horror film. Web series eight was a 3-webisode series called The Podcast (January 2011), about Gabe trying to make a podcast. The 9th and final web series is called the Girl Next Door (May 2011) and focused on Subtle Sexuality making a new music video. The webisodes were typically 2-3 minutes in length.
When web video was first gaining traction, Networks responded by doing short web-exclusive videos online. TV Show Web series, which became a popular aspect in the mid-2000s and early 2010s, has fallen to the side for most television series today. Come back next week for more examples of TV show Web series.