Question: I enjoyed TNT's The Company and am currently catching up on ESPN's The Bronx Is Burning. My question is, why did TNT have to inundate its presentation of this otherwise serious program with crawling advertisements for other shows? I'm aware that I can also catch Saving Grace on TNT — the network takes every opportunity during the commercial breaks to let me know. Why do I need to see a miniature Holly Hunter walking around at the bottom of the screen during The Company? By comparison, ESPN, a network that arguably doesn't need to take itself as seriously, presents The Bronx Is Burning with only a small network logo in the corner of the screen. TNT had every reason to treat The Company with respect — the show was well executed on many levels. But even the failure to let the ending credits play uninterrupted for a few seconds got on my nerves. Decisions like these indicate that TNT was far more interested in using every imaginable opportunity to shove obnoxious ads down viewers' throats.
Answer: I was having this very conversation less than a week ago with a fellow critic, comparing the relentlessly obnoxious TNT promo assault with the relatively restrained approach on, of all channels, Spike TV, with its miniseries The Kill Point. Like ESPN, Spike didn't intrude on the action with more than a network logo in the corner of the screen. Since (recurring theme here) I didn't watch The Company live, I was unaware of how intrusive TNT's logos were, and I agree they couldn't be more inappropriate for such a solemn project as this CIA miniseries. I have been mightily annoyed by the Holly Hunter promos (flowing hair and all) as they crowd the screen throughout each episode of The Closer, a show I actually do watch in real time some weeks. To show just how badly promos like this can backfire, read this rant from Beverly, of Traverse City, Michigan: "Save us all from Saving Grace on TNT! I wouldn't watch the show if someone paid me to now, because I'm so sick of the constant promos. We are inundated with one after another, at high volume, including the risqué content (watching the actual show is bad enough... it should be on pay TV, if anything, like all other 'paid business of this sort'). Last Monday was the last straw: There were four promos in a row for this same show! Give us a break!" I think this is what you might call a classic turnoff.