Swag season hits & misses: The Fed-Ex Factor

Why the guy from UPS thinks I’m Rupert Murdoch

The 2012-13 primetime network television season officially begins Monday, right after Sunday’s Emmy Awards.
My UPS and FedEx delivery guys already know that. They’ve been bringing boxes, padded envelopes and other mailers to my door non-stop since the start of the month.
This is the time of year network promotion departments pull out all the stops. As in other years, the fun packages from south of the border are usually from Fox. They always send plenty of brightly coloured containers with cool stuff inside, and, oh yeah, screeners and press releases.
The Swag of the Season award once again goes to Fox for the bubble gun that was part of the promotional materials inside the Ben & Kate box. The goofball brother half of that new comedy (played by Nat Faxon) would be just the guy who would play with one of these things, making him the same mental age as most TV critics. The series premieres Tuesday at 8:30 on Fox and City.

Swag of the season winner: The Ben & Kate bubble gun

Fox usually packs all their “Animation Domination” goodies together in one big box and did it again this year. A basket arrived with nuts and sauces and everything you need to make a cool sundae while you watch the season premieres Sunday of The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers and American Dad. They even threw in a scoop.
New Girl returns Tuesday and I now have a pair of towels to remind me. One is marked “Jess,” the other has the names of the three dudes. The Mindy Project box came with a re-usable cup with a lid. Mindy Kaling’s new comedy starts Tuesday right after New Girl on Fox and City.
The X Factor box came with a pair of Britney Spear’s panties. No it didn’t! She doesn’t wear panties! Actually it was a hoodie. You’d think a Simon Cowell T-shirt.
MTV sent two bottles of neon-orange Italian soda to promote the final season of The Jersey Shore. I drank from the one marked J Woww and went straight out and got a tattoo.

Jersey Shore sodas. Freakin’ good

Canadian networks also send stuff, too, although they’re in the awkward position of sending promotional goodies related to all the American imported shows they buy each year. Global just send one of those black answer balls to hype their new Sherlock Holmes pickup Elementary, which premieres next Thursday at 10 p.m. on CBS and Global. The ball has one of those inky windows where, if you shake it, a message pops up.
I tried it: Will Global ever add any new Canadian scripted shows to its schedule? “Absolutely,” was the answer. I think this is the same ball they use at CRTC hearings.
City just sent one of those big, fluffy “Snuggie” blankets with sleeves so you can go right on sitting on the couch watching TV long after hydro turns off the heat. I think the idea is that City has all the comfort shows on their schedule, but it kinda says to me, “Hey critics–we think of you as shut-ins.”

Take two bullets and call me in the morning

As well they should. Just as practical was the tiny perfect flashlight CTV sent (batteries included) to hype the final season of Flashpoint, which airs Thursdays. With the flashlight and the snuggie, I’m good should the lights go out.
CTV also sent a large pill capsule filled with these amazing chocolate bullets to promote The Mob Doctor, which they have Sundays at 9 in the old Desperate Housewives slot. Trouble is, if the U.S. ratings are any indication, the series may be gone about as fast as the chocolates.
Those cutbacks at CBC have impacted their promotional mailings. Instead of a pair of ruby red slippers to promote Over the Rainbow they sent nothing, not even rejected Dragon’s Den crap.
There’s still time for more of this stuff to roll in. I’m hoping Thursdays debut of the nuclear sub drama Last Resort (8 p.m., Global) means next week I can look forward to a free submarine sandwich.
So far, nothing has arrived to promote NBC’s new monkey series, Animal Practice. Be brave, UPS delivery drivers.

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