If you watch Supernatural, The 100, Star Crossed or The Others this week, William Shatner will be watching them with you. Since last month, The Shatastic One has been providing live commentary of CW shows on Twitter. What began as a fun pastime, he says, is now a dedicated effort to boost ratings of genre TV programs.
In a recent email interview with The Style Blog at the Washington Post, Shatner attributes his newfound calling to Supernatural's Misha Collins, who informed fans that he would be live-tweeting his directorial debut with the airing of the episode, "Mother's Little Helper."
"Being the 'older' actor guy on Twitter, I'm always up for encouraging new actors and starting conversations," Shatner explained. "I jokingly 'threatened' to live-tweet along with him and he accepted. Thus my career as a live-tweeter was born."
Soon, actors in other CW shows began requesting Shatner to live-tweet their episodes. He agreed, although this time there was a price: cast members had to provide autographed items that would be sold at a charity auction. "Really, it's a win-win-win," notes the Washington Post. "The shows get free publicity, Shatner joins the elite club of Famous Live-Tweeters, and money is raised for charity."
For Shatner, it's also a way to give back to the genre that made him famous. "The CW network seems to be the last bastion of science fiction shows on broadcast television so I am obviously very interested in ensuring the genre on TV stays alive," he said.
So far, this is some evidence of the Shatner Effect. The NY Post reported that, after he live tweeted The Tomorrow People and Star Crossed, both shows "posted gains over the previous week and combined to give the CW its best Monday night (1.1 million viewers) in over a year."
Fingers-crossed that the Shatner Effect is real, since higher ratings can boost the popularity of other genre shows. As Deadline Hollywood reported, "After an inauspicious launch behind mothership series The Vampire Diaries, The Originals has flourished in the Tuesday 8 PM slot ….With the new lead-in, Supernatural has found another gear, posting double-digit increases year-to-year in total viewers and all key demos, and recently logging its most watched episodes since 2010."
As for Shatner, when he learned about the ratings spike, he joked, "Maybe I'll take over the CW and rename it the WS."
At least, I think he was joking.