What goes online

The future of television very well may be a show called Operation Kitten Calendar.

The future of television very well may be a show called Operation Kitten Calendar.

The show, which mocks reality TV stalwarts like the Apprentice, Project Runway, and America’s Next Top Model, is a satire of a retread of a show that was never quite compelling to begin with. But the future is in the format, not the felines.

Operation Kitten Calendar is part of Acceptable TV, a new user-supported sitcom launched by the impossibly re-relevant VH1. The creators of the show have come up with an ingenious format that serves as the perfect confluence of art, viewer interaction, and economic potential.

The 30-minute show consists of five, three-minute-or-so episodes, each its own “program.” Fans of broad humor will probably not enjoy the odd content slate, so this show (cable realities aside) has no chance of usurping Two and a Half Men for mainstream America’s clicker. But for those who love irreverence, shows like Homeless James Bond and Drunk Home Makeover are panaceas for the predictable stuff put out there to appeal to millions of viewers.

Each week, viewers vote for their favorite show online or by text message. The producers make another episode of the two most popular shows. The other three slots are filled by new shows in the next episode. Rinse and repeat. Mr. Sprinkles, a cartoon, has been voted back three times so far.

After debuting on the television show, the clips are placed on the Web site Acceptable.TV, where people can view them again and vote. The clips, which don’t feature ads, can be posted on viewers’ blogs or downloaded.

Acceptable TV takes the interactive component one step further by encouraging viewers to make their own movies and upload them to the Web site. Each week, the television show features the most popular one.

VH1 previously tried the Web clip formula to pedestrian results, by taking the genital clobbering and bad singing clips that have circulated online for years and put them on a lackluster, 30-minute show called Web Junk 20. The show was neither interactive, nor new.

Whereas American Idol is a tradition – a pageant – that some feel is currently being besmirched, by virtue of the continual survival of questionably talented Sanjaya Malakar,  by the very community that made it successful, Acceptable.TV is too niche to be gamed. People have no reason to vote, unless it’s for the content they wish to see.

And if the producers of the show are smart, they will learn, via audience participation, what works and what doesn’t, So each week, the decision regarding which shows to kick off will become more difficult than the last.

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