This is what happens when shit gets unreal

Where’s that old camera?

Recently, I was shocked—shocked!—when a friend looking over my shoulder at work asked me what the hell I was looking at. And not because it wasn’t work related. No, sadly, it would have been more remarkable if he’d caught me working.

What amazed me was that this guy had clearly never heard of Channel 101. Begun somewhere around 2004, the premise is, you make a TV show pilot and send it in. The trick is, it has to be a whole episode in 5 minutes or less.

Once your pilot is received and passes an initial “obvious crap” screening, a bunch of the best looking shows are selected for a screening in front of a live audience. (Which really stands for, play them in a theater while a bunch of people get smashed and make fun of them.) The audience votes on their favorites, and the top 5 become “prime time series.” [see diagram]

Congratulations, because now you have to submit a new 5 minute episode for every month’s screening until you get knocked off by a new pilot.

Mostly, this is done by amateurs in their spare time, but occasionally a pro from the industry will drop in. It tends to run to the silly (Could they be any more baked?) but production quality can be surprisingly high. Channel 101 has spawned a meme referenced on Family Guy and at least one series that gained mainstream attention for its gimmick of being shot surreptitiously entirely inside an Ikea store.

Current Prime Timers. Everything—on a 13-episode winning streak—is actually quite good.


For more browsing goodness, see also the spinoff, Channel 101:NY. Go ahead, stay up watching all night. It’s not like you do anything at work anyway. Oh wait, that’s me.