The Value (?) in “Charlie’s Angels”

I couldn’t resist writing about this one.

            In the category of eliminating waste and leaving only that which adds value, consider an article this week in The New York Times:


            Exactly how much worthwhile entertainment was there in shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “T.J. Hooker,” and “Starsky and Hutch”?

            The Sony Corporation and its production studio, Sony Pictures Television, which controls the rights to those and many other relics of a distant era of television, have come up with an answer to that question: three and a half to five minutes.

            That’s the length Sony has shrunk episodes down to in order to create what the company hopes is an appealing new business in retooling old shows for a new era of entertainment.


            These “minisodes,” as Sony calls them, will initially be posted on the Web on MySpace, but Sony may later create a separate Internet channel called the Minisode Network.


            As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, “So, in ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.


            Sony is obviously trying to tap into the huge and growing market for online video clips. 

            But never mind that. I couldn’t help thinking of this (with tongue in cheek) in lean terms. Did someone create a value stream map to identify which parts of the programs constituted value? Could this kind of mapping help television critics and viewers identify the best shows on TV?

            Of course, there may be an issue here in defining value – which is supposed to be what the customer (viewer) sees as value.

The editors creating the “minisodes” seem to be focusing on the key plot points. Does anyone really believe the millions of viewers who watched each episode of “Charlie’s Angels” were interested in the plot? Wasn’t the real appeal of that show – at least to the male viewers – the opportunity to watch Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith bouncing around in skimpy outfits?

            On the other hand, if plot does constitute value, then one of the best shows on television today must be “24,” which has more plot points in a single episode then most series have in an entire season.

            The assignment-fights-chase-capture-wrapup formula for the “minisodes” will undoubtedly work just as well for “T.J. Hooker” and “Starsky and Hutch” as it does for “Charlie’s Angels.” However, the article also notes:


            Sony is even making a mini-version of “Ricki Lake,” one of its syndicated talk shows. “It’s great,” Mr. Mosko said. “The people get introduced, there’s a big fight, then they come together, and cry and hug. You get everything in five minutes.'


            Maybe Tivo could come up with technology that applies lean concepts and not only allows you to zap out the commercials, but also to zap any “waste” in the program itself. Maybe we’re on the verge of a whole new lean approach to television programming.

            Or maybe not.



Ralph Bernstein said...

5/7/2007 12:29:16 PM
Re: The Value (?) in “Charlie’s Angels”
By: mgraban

It's like Tesco's strategy in the UK -- different store formats (and different value) for different customers: convenience stores, regular stores, warehouse club, etc.

Ralph Bernstein said...

5/7/2007 1:18:09 PM
Re: The Value (?) in “Charlie’s Angels”
By: dcbliss

Wow, I'd love to see the value stream map for this one. When the description says, "Farrah appears onscreen", I'm guessing there may be a significant difference of opinion among the male and female members of the mapping team as to whether this scene qualifies as "value-added".