Illustration for article titled Is Any TV Show Worth $10 Million?

If you're wondering how the pilot of JJ Abrams' new Fox show Fringe managed to cost around ten million dollars, then you may be disappointed to learn that the answer has more to do with your souped-up plasma HD TV than Abrams and Joshua Jackson blowing millions sniffing coke off the butts of hot Astral projections. But even so, we have to ask: Isn't ten million dollars kind of expensive for a TV show?Here's our personal benchmark for a TV pilot's budget: If it costs more than it did for the US to rebuild Steve Austin, then it's probably too much. But others disagree:

[F]or Fringe, Abrams shot a two-hour action show that opens with a flesh-eating virus set loose on an airplane. "Viewers are a lot more sophisticated now," says veteran director and producer Harry Winer. "They demand greater production values, more-complex stories, and higher-quality special effects. And now, with HD, there's no room for error."


You see that? We're getting blamed for the high price of TV these days, just because we don't want to watch General Hospital in prime-time. I don't like where this is going; next time the Writers Guild or Screen Actors Guild goes on strike, studios will point the finger at us and say, "Listen, if they didn't want to see 'quality' then we'd have more money for you guys." I like quality as much as the next person, but whatever happened to the school of "Less Is More"? A good show doesn't mean feeling the urge to blow the budget on special-effects, and you'd think that Abrams would know that; Lost is a master of the understated thrill, after all. Did Fringe have to cost $10 million? Probably not - but perhaps Abrams just got carried away with his Star Trek budget and couldn't bring himself to tighten the pursestrings back up. $10 Million for a Pilot? [NYMag]

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