Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fan petition to Save The Sing-Off
reaches 20,000 signatures

This morning at 7:40 a.m., I was given the rare treat of being able to watch the number of signatures on the petition to Save The Sing-Off television show flip from 19,999 to 20,004.  The number had crept to just under 16,000 signatures on Friday, then surged over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The show, which has aired each fall for three consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2011 and features several a cappella groups competing for a Sony recording contract, is currently on the cutting room floor of the NBC scheduling room. The show is hosted by Nick Lachey and judged by performers Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Sara Bareilles. Because The Sing-Off enjoyed high ratings during the post-season five-day run in December 2010, the show was extended to run the full season in the fall of 2011. Unfortunately, it did not fair as well and struggled for viewership against hit shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Dancing with the Stars, House, and Ashton Kutcher's debut on Two and a Half Men.

The show will sadly not run the full season this fall on NBC. Whether or not NBC will pick it up for a short December run in 2012 is still a big question mark. Industry insider @mcbc noted on twitter:
    "...that holiday thing is looking increasing unlikely. 10/90, 5/95 at best. And it would only be a reunion."
Undaunted, Sing-Off fans are not giving up! Here are just a few of the efforts currently in place:

The petition, started by Dan St. John of Lawrence, Kansas, now boasts over 20,100 signatures:
Sign the petition.

Twitter trend campaign
Fans are continuing to post #SaveTheSingOff on twitter.

Videos by Sing-Off competitors:

X-Factors from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois:
Cover of Eric Hutchinson's "You Don't Have to Believe Me" with an introduction and plea.

Members of Fannin Eleven from Wisconsin:
Cover of "Break Even" by the Script with a testimonial of the joy they experienced while on the show.

Pentatonix, Season 3 winner, from Arlington Texas;
Cover of Beyonce's "End of Time" with a request to sign the petition at the end.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

@TVGrrrrl is finally on twitter
#SaveTheSingOff #ImADamVP

After years of swearing I'd never have my own twitter account, I finally broke down and signed up last week under none other than, "@tvgrrrrl" (that's 4 R's in case you accidentally find the one with 3 R's – not me.)

Anyone living in Orlando knows that the number one way we all communicate around this part of the country is via person to person texting on our beautifully personalized androids and iphones. To reach the masses, Facebook is followed in Florida. Myspace here seems dominated by people looking to cheat and diehards who signed up a dozen years ago and refuse to admit that no one reads their page anymore. Twitter? I don't really know anyone who's on twitter who isn't also throwing the same posts into their Facebook account. So, it seemed silly to bother.


Then, a grassroots campaign was launched by fans to SaveTheSingOff – that's The Sing-Off television show which aired on NBC from 2009 to 2011, hosted by Nick Lachey, and judged by Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman and Sara Bareilles. It is sadly absent from NBC's 2012 fall schedule and fans are rallying to save it, starting a petition (sign here), websites, and a twitter hashtag trending campaign for #SaveTheSingOff.

I feel a personal investment in the show, having watched from day one. My eyes glued to the set each episode, I shunned friends' invites to go clubbing and instead, made them watch with me, moving work schedules when needed, and even skipping class and faking the flu one December (shhh – don't tell). I was so thankful when Brighthouse Cable made shows available for on-demand-viewing, that I watched the show almost exclusively on channel 304 last season.  

I blogged about The Sing-Off from the beginning. Over a thousand people read my articles, and I think of each and every one of those readers as a gift. It makes all the time spent researching and fact gathering worthwhile. 

The whole reason I started this twitter account was to tweet the hashtag: #SaveTheSingOff

However, now that I'm here, follow me if that's your thing. Send me your thoughts on what you're watching on the boob tube. I love the weird and wacky off channels, love writing about what no one else is writing about, all those lower viewership shows on cable which are passed over by the mainstream media. 


I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that Sing-Off judge Ben Folds (That's Dr. Folds to you and me) is launching his own CD with Ben Folds Five, sans a record label, using only a pledgemusic account where fans can prepurchase everything from CDs for $15, t-shirts for $27, vinyl for $25, and other goodies. That's akin to airing your own television show on youtube, without a network. Will it work? It seems to be picking up steam. 

Today, at 3 p.m. EST, BFF will be hawking more wares: actual handwritten lyrics "sealed with a kiss" from each of the gorgeous members of the band: Robert, Darren, and Ben. Oh, swoon! There are only 30 copies being sold for $400 apiece. For $2,500, twenty people can also have their own name added to the song, "Do It Anyway." I'm guessing without The Sing-Off paycheck, Ben Folds might need to raise a few extra bucks to cover the costs of putting out this project on his own. Judging from the success to date with 224% of the project funded and nearly 5,000 pledgers, I don't think this is an issue. His daring experiment appears to have paid off.

Go to this website and see how you do: Pledge Music. Should go fast.

If you're on twitter, send the link around about Dr. Fold's new project and add the hashtag: #ImaDamVp


I must also mention that the angelic Sara Bareilles has just released a wonderful new EP, "Once Upon Another Time." The EP was produced and recorded at Ben Folds' Nashville studio. I've only heard snippets here and there, but it sounds simply lovely. Who else can solo a cappella and sound that phenomenal? The 5-song EP is available here on Amazon.com as an mp3 download for only $5 (okay $4.99, whatever). The EP has received the notoriously esteemed label of "Explicit Lyrics," due to her "Sweet As Whole" song (get it?). Bless her little heart. 

The song, Beautiful Girl is only found on the B-side of her vinyl record single, Stay. I was only able to find it from collectors for $30 apiece, so good luck on that one.

The songs are so wonderful, I'll bet we'll all most likely be hearing them on future television soundtracks.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nielsen ratings signal doom for Sing Off
as fans rally to save Season 4

Street Corner Symphony, a former competitor of The Sing-Off, is just one of the many groups and individuals who have have helped to spearhead the #SaveTheSingOff campaign by creating a website as well as Facebook and twitter pages.

On Sunday May 13 around 2 p.m., the news broke on @mcbc's twitter page that The Sing-Off television show featuring a cappella singing groups competing for a record contract was not on NBC's upcoming fall schedule, where it had run for three seasons.
    For #acappella people ... BREAKING ... #TheSingOff not on the NBC fall schedule. A two-hour #Voice takes its place.
A minute later, it was revealed that the show also would not enter midseason:
    Also, #TheSingOff is not slated for a midseason run. Looks to be effectively canceled.
For a normal television show, not appearing on a regular schedule is the kiss of death. Not so for The Sing-Off, which began as a post-season filler, airing as a 2-hour 4-day show in December 2009 and returning in the same slot for 5 days in 2010 for a second season, happily resulting in unexpectedly high ratings. Confident that a cappella was on a roll, NBC extended the run in Season 3, giving The Sing-Off its very own primetime slot on Monday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. Sadly, ratings suffered and the show has not been renewed. Though currently not slated to run at all, it is a logical transition for the show to return to its roots as a short post-season 5-to-6 episode series, running during December when musical holiday specials are quite popular.

Sure enough, an hour later, @mcbc tweeted:
    Text from a NBC bud ... OH "#TheSingOff may return for a brief post-Thanksgiving run. Happy Mother's Day." #acappella

Fans formulate a #SaveTheSingOff campaign

By noon on Monday, May 14, word began to spread like wildfire amidst the tightly knit a cappella community.

Nick Lachey was the first to make note of the situation, tweeting from his @NickSLachey account that he was disappointed:
    obviously bummed to hear that #singoff is not going to come back to @nbc this year. thanks to everyone who made the show so much fun to do!!
Just after 2 p.m., Sara D. (@wtrfallprincess), a fan and Straight No Chaser a cappella blogger, posted on her twitter account:
    Save @TheSingOff!!! Bring it back, @NBC! #SaveTheSingOff
thereby creating the twitter hashtag, #SaveTheSingOff, which took off like wildfire, and was retweeted dozens of times.

Judge Shawn Stockman picked up the hashtag, retweeting it around 6 p.m. that night, quickly followed by judge Ben Folds, then host Nick Lachey, and new judge Sara Barielles around 9 p.m. Fans retweeted hundreds of times, causing the hashtag to trend in both Seattle, WA and Athens, GA that Monday night.

That evening, members of Street Corner Symphony announced that they had purchased the domain: savethesingoff.com and launched a simple website, also creating Facebook and twitter accounts for SaveTheSingOff.

By 7 p.m, fan Dan St. John had launched a petition via ipetitions.com and publicized it on both his twitter (@spicepirate00) and Facebook Sing-Off fan pages. [ Click here to sign the online petition. ]

And so began an all out multi-media social network grassroots campaign to "Save The Sing Off!"

It all comes down to numbers

Why so much fuss over yet another musical competition TV show? Don't we have enough of those out there already?


The Sing-Off is unique in that competitors must perform a cappella, meaning "without accompaniment." No instruments or tracks are used. Choral pedals, autotune, lip-syncing and other fakery are prohibited. Performers must stand alone on their own merits, singing into microphones on stage.

All that being said, networks like NBC are really only interested in the bottom line of dollar signs, not feeling groovy about presenting vocal music in its purest form. They want to sell commercial time for top dollar, and to do that, they need high-rating hits.

According to the Nielsen ratings, the industry standard for monitoring TV viewership, the two-hour Sing-Off only drew between 3.89 and 6.43 million viewers to watch NBC each hour on Monday nights from September 19 through December 5, 2011, unfortunately placing it last behind all of the other major networks of ABC, CBS, and FOX, winning out only over the CW.

It's no wonder. It was pitted against top ranked Dancing with the Stars (14.71 to 20.04 million viewers) on ABC and the powerblock of How I Met Your Mother (7.99 to 11.70 million viewers) and Two and I Half Men on CBS, which was enjoying a field day of increased ratings (9.69 to 27.76 million viewers) after everyone tuned in to see how Ashton Kutcher would do replacing the off-kilter-gone-bonkers Charlie Sheen. When the season premiere of House aired on FOX at 9 p.m. on Oct. 3 (5.85 to 9.77 million viewers), The Sing-Off did not stand a chance. [ Nielsen ratings published daily by: zap2it.com ]

On October 10, only four shows into the season, The Playboy Club, which had been scheduled to run on NBC after The Sing-Off and might draw viewers who tune in early, was replaced with an even lower rating Prime Suspect due to public criticism that The Playboy Club television show was too racy. The problem wasn't the show – it was a great, well-written and artfully produced drama, and less sexually charged than many daytime soap operas. I suspect that the campaign against The Playboy Club was probably spearheaded by the competition: Castle on ABC and a revamping of Hawaii Five-O on CBS, each used to taking the lion's share of viewers. Prime Suspect and Rock Center, which replaced Prime Suspect and debuted on October 31 on NBC, both also failed to garner many viewers.

Next fall, NBC will take a gamble and move their hit show The Voice to Mondays, paired with a new show, Revolution. Fortunately for them, Dr. House is on his way out, but I still wish them luck -- they'll need it. [Schedule grid by Entertainment Weekly.]

Who is this Nielsen and why doesn't he like my favorite shows?

The Nielsen ratings, which were first utilized by the television industry in 1950 when Milton Berle ruled the roost on the Texaco Star Theater, are kind of a bunch of hooey when you think about it, and should probably not be given so much gravity given the manner in which data is currently extrapolated. First, Nielsen only samples "about 20,000" households out of the 114 million TV viewing households across the United States. That's a mere .0175 percent, one in 5,700 households. These numbers are then multiplied by that area's population, with the assumption that if John Q Smith's family is watching Survivor on Wednesday night, so is everyone living in their 5700 neighbors' homes. [ source: The Nielsen Company Marketing video: Nielsen Ratings 101: Designing the Sample ]

The late Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr. defended the model:
    "I try to explain how sampling works. Next time you have to go to the doctor and he wants to take a little blood, tell 'em you don't believe in sampling. Take it all."
However, even Nielsen recognizes that households, unlike blood, are not homogenous. Juan Mendizabal, SVP Field operations of Nielsen explains:
    "No two homes are alike. That's why we have to have such a comprehensive training program,"
[ source: The Nielsen Company marketing video: Nielsen Ratings 101: Introduction video ]

Within the United States, Nielsen measures television audiences in 210 local markets [ source: Nielsen's December 31, 2011 annual report ] consisting of large metropolitan population centers [ list of local markets published by zap2it ]. This suggests that individuals living in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas are not being properly represented. It's unclear who is and who is not being tracked. For instance, is Chapel Hill, NC monitored? It is a major college town with a huge transient student population, but only a small number of permanent residents. What about the many vacation resorts, such as Disney World here in Orlando? I personally catch up on a lot of TV while relaxing on vacation.

In order to increase the sample pool, Nielsen also sends out approximately 2 million weekly paper diaries during sweeps months to be kept by people living in smaller areas (I actually was once the recipient of one of these). However, these figures are not shown on the daily ratings charts, because the paper diaries must be filled out, mailed in, and then processed. Only figures from the electronic monitoring devices installed in the 20,000 households nationwide are tabulated in the daily ratings published each morning after a show airs.

Though Nielsen now enlists modern high tech equipment to analyze viewership on all forms of media including televisions, on-demand, online, and personal handheld devices for up to three days after a show first airs, Nielsen is still only able to sample a tiny portion of the actual viewing audience – about half of those with electronic meters, or 10,000 households. One wonders why, with all the latest digital technology available, they don't simply work out a deal with the cable and satellite providers who are now capable of monitoring the viewership of their own customers. [ source: The Nielsen Company marketing video: Nielsen Cross-Platform Homes - Extended Screen Ratings ]

It is also questionable how many students are being monitored. With a show like The Sing-Off, featuring primarily college and university a cappella groups, I imagine that students are a huge percentage of their viewership and that this group is being underrepresented by the Nielsen ratings.

In addition, Nielsen's extrapolated ratings are not audited by an external source – no one really knows how accurate they are.

The Sing-Off "Shing-ed" 
in the short season

In previous Seasons 1 and 2 during 2009 and 2010, The Sing-Off was a post-season filler airing in December primarily against reruns and holiday specials being shown on other major networks. Ratings were much higher and grew from one year to the next. The fast pace of seeing the show unfold in two to three weeks time seemed to keep viewers interested enough to tune in each day the show aired.

In its debut in 2009, the two-hour 8 to 10 p.m. show ran on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday December 14 through 16, culminating in a Monday finale on December 21 the following week. Hourly ratings ranged from 6.31 to 7.43 million viewers and fans voiced that they were pleased with the new technical singing terms they were learning, such as 'Shing,' jokingly coined by Judge Ben Folds. This placed NBC in a respectable second place behind CBS in the Nielsen ratings.

In 2010, The Sing-Off moved to Monday and Wednesday and ran for two-and-a-half weeks, from December 6 to December 20. The show had gained momentum over the previous year with a dedicated fan following. Ratings improved, with a low at a respectable 6.67 million viewers and a soaring high of 9.66 million viewers per hour. The show usually placed second behind CBS, though it did fall to third behind ABC during one episode. However, it actually ranked in first place during its finale on December 20. It was the little show that could!

Why Season 3 failed

Although The Sing-Off could have effectively warranted eleven 2-hour episodes (plus a holiday special), the Season 3 format didn't really work for me. In my opinion, there were a few flaws in the production arrangement which made it less interesting than it had seemed in the faster paced shorter runs in previous seasons.

Although I found the show to be quite entertaining, Pat Fish wrote in The Morton Report, "Time (is) better spent watching paint dry."

Even Judge Ben Folds himself noted in his Sing-Off blog, that certain musically advanced groups, such as Afro Blue, might seem over-the-heads of the general public and felt the need to spice up his critique a bit with more colorfully descriptive dialog to keep them from appearing "boring."

The problem wasn't Afro Blue. Their fan following, who had sat quietly by, watching with approval week after week as their favorite group was pushed through to the next round, suddenly made their vast numbers heard when they protested vehemently after Afro Blue was eliminated by the panel of three judges. The ensuing controversy consisting of hundreds of Facebook and twitter posts showed that not only were people watching, they were thoroughly invested. Until then, it had seemed as if the show was being shown in a vacuum.

The problem was that fans were not allowed to vote for their own favorites early on, the way fans vote on shows such as FOX network's American Idol, thereby empowering them and giving them a voice, as well as an incentive to tune in over the long course of the season. Who wants to watch a show week after week, witnessing helplessly as your favorites are kicked out, group by group? American Idol producers understand this concept: let the people vote.

Another problem was the bracket system where competing groups were initially split into two brackets like an ACC basketball tournament, where nearly all of my personal favorite groups were stuck in the same bracket, forced to weed each other out seemingly unfairly.

Producer Deke Sharon, who does an excellent job with The Sing-Off for the most part, seems to have missed the boat on this one, saying in an interview in Pitchpipe in October 2011:
    "I don't think it much matters. Yes, some groups would have perhaps lasted longer if they had different groups in their bracket, but I never view this as a competition."
Not a competition? Really?

I could also have done without the color-coordinated competitor attire – truly less than cool, with few exceptions, save perhaps The Dartmouth Aires' Where's-Waldo-ish striped sweaters and wacky neon colored socks – Now, that was cute!

One improvement in Season 3 was the addition of a season capper: a holiday special. It was a nice touch and would be a great way to extend the short season to 6 days, adding to the format followed in Season 2, which lasted 5 days and culminated in a winner finale show.

Hope for Season 4

It's still possible that The Sing-Off may run in Season 4 – it isn't technically cancelled by NBC and was simply missing from a list of cancelled, renewed, and new shows published.

Judge Ben Folds explains in a note he posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday night.
    "The Sing-Off is obviously not in the fall lineup on NBC. That's all we really know."
Unlike American Idol, or The Voice, The Sing-Off is about teamwork. Contestants must perform as groups with a minimum of five members and many are choral groups hailing from universities and colleges. If your school is represented, you know that's a built in audience of a few thousand college-aged kids who are going to be tuned in, watching your sponsors' fabulous commercials.

The show, owned by Sony, still has the opportunity to shop around for another network, or even take their chances that they may be invited back to NBC after Thanksgiving once again. However, unlike other shows, The Sing-Off is schedule dependent and must be filmed in the summer when college students are on break. All three judges: Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and Sara Bareilles, are actively touring musicians and cleared their calendars for what they hoped would be another few weeks of filming.

Fans have suggested that the producers market The Sing-Off to Bravo or PBS. I disagree.

I believe FOX is the ideal network for The Sing-Off, specializing in wholesome family entertainment. FOX is also extremely savvy in marketing. They took a gamble with a little cartoon called The Simpsons pulled from the Tracey Ullman show, and we all know how that worked out. They also gambled with American Idol, which has netted the network the top spot of every single show on television for six years running. They are experts at scheduling, understanding that not every show is a hit, but jockeying the position of winner shows against little competition to allow them to grow and flourish, while placing less popular shows on the schedule where they have little hopes of drawing away viewers from the competition.

The week I was a "Nielsen family," what show did I record I watched the most on my viewer diary? None other than FOX's American Idol.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

To everything, there is a Season:
Tweet #savethesingoff

Fans are urged to tweet: #SaveTheSingOff today to attempt to trend it on twitter.

This week of Season finales has drawn an unclear line in the sand between cancellations and new opportunities, unexpectedly intertwining the fates of three of my favorite shows: Live! with Kelly, The Sing-Off, and Two and a Half Men.

LIVE! with Kelly

Ever since Regis Philbin left the cohost position of the LIVE! with Regis and Kelly show on November 18, 2011, TV viewers have enjoyed watching a parade of short-term fill-in guest hosts, everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Kim Kardashian, and Apolo Anton Ohno to Jim Parsons. The suggestion is that at some point, a permanent host will be chosen from those who have appeared. Facebookers are urged to "like" their favorite hosts on the show's webpage.

I watched a similar parade of female guest hosts test the waters after Kathy Lee left the show in 2000 and a female cohost position was vacated, and I knew instantly that Kelly Ripa was the clearly perfect choice to fill her shoes the moment she appeared. Peppy, silly, comfortable, and wiling to put up with a curmudgeon like Regis, she was the perfect complement. I had watched her debut on "All My Children" and thought this was a much better fit for her. The show has since won a slew of Daytime Emmys and other awards.

Now Regis has left, and the search is on. I have my own personal favorites.

Alec Baldwin, who appeared on Leap Day, February 29, was one of my top picks. He handled the position with panache, taking the good with the bad, not squirming when a slimy giant bullfrog was brought out on stage to leap for Leap Day (he failed to leap and merely sat), interviewing with knowledge and confidence, and even acting out a steamy improv romantic scene with Kelly to illustrate the over-the-top acting required in soap operas. Baldwin is currently a primary player on 30 Rock, but I wonder if he could perhaps be enticed to join Live! instead.

Michael Bublé, who appeared before Christmas on December 15th and 16th also was a huge favorite of mine, though one would not think that a grammy-award winning crooner who's used to singing to entertain could do such a lovely job. He was open and revealing, talking naturally as if he were sitting around chatting with good friends. He made fun of himself, impersonated others while recounting stories, was a willing model during a high tech gift feature, and was truly entertaining during the full show. I apparently am not the only one who's a fan -- he has 1311 likes, more than any other guest host. Perhaps while starting a family, he would be willing to settle down in NYC for a few years and cohost the show.

Finding the next Regis has been a challenge. Kelly is the *nice* one, so adding another pleasantly upbeat host creates an imbalance at the helm. No, Regis's replacement will have to be a little bit mean, have a humongous ego so as to not cower when interviewing the really huge stars, a healthy dose of arrogance combined with an open revealing self-criticism, a ton of previous star knowledge, and a huge heaping helping of true snarkiness. 

For this reason, although I do love his fun attitude, Nick Lachey is not a good fit. He desperately wants the job, and has even gone so far as serenading Kelly proposing that she choose him to be the next co-host …

The Sing-Off

Nick Lachey currently hosts The Sing-Off, an a cappella singing group competition show, featuring groups performing in their pure form, without autotune, choral pedals, or musical instruments. Groups compete and are intelligently judged by Sara Bareilles, Shawn Stockman, and Ben Folds. Sadly, the show is in danger of being cancelled. 

It's not the show's fault that it did not do as well last year during Season 3 as it had in previous years. Last year, the show ran a full fall season, and although I did manage to watch every single episode without fail, I actually enjoyed the show much more in Seasons 1 and 2 when it ran as an off-season filler over the holidays. However, I loved the way it culminated with a Holiday Special in December during Season 3, where Christmasy songs were the ideal fit for pure choral arrangements.

The Sing-Off was also pitted head-to-head against Two and Half Men, debuting the exact same day that Ashton Kutcher was taking over the role of Charlie Sheen after his sensational interview where he claimed to have "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA" and was fired from the show. I would imagine that even some of the upper management of NBC was tuned to CBS every Monday night at 9 PM out of mere curiosity, instead of watching their own broadcast of the Sing-Off. 

However, host Nick Lachey should relax, because Sing-Off fans, led by a campaign to trend #savethesingoff on twitter today are going to most likely bring the show back for another run. Started by a fan and retweeted by heavy-tweeters @BenFolds, @SaraBareilles, @ShawnStockman, and @NickSLachey, the show has launched a campaign today to bring the show back for Season 4. It's a bit ironic that the Sing-Off is using twitter to achieve this task, since Ashton Kutcher himself is known as the one who made twitter a popular social networking tool in April 2009, by inspiring others to sign up for the service and "follow him" so that he could become the first person to have more than a million followers.

Ben Folds himself has just successfully funded his own new album release for Ben Folds Five, solely utilizing the social media sites of Facebook and twitter to get out the word to pre-purchase Cds, vinyl, and tour t-shirts in the form of pledges. 

Two and a Half Men Spin-Off?

The season finale of Two and a Half Men marked the graduation of Alan's (Jon Cryer)  son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), who had been living rent-free along with his dad, first with Charlie (Charlie Sheen), then Walden (Ashton Kutcher) after Charlie's unexpected death when he fell in front of a subway train in Paris.

Jake and his good friend Eldridge (Graham Patrick Martin) are then required to either go to college or get a job. They choose the latter, and Alan gets them both a job at Walden's new business, Electric Suitcase, Inc., where they promptly burn the place down their first night at work by infecting the system with a virus they accidentally acquire while downloading porn. 

Faced with a 24-hour deadline, Warren and Eldridge look for another new job and end up enlisting in the army so they can "be all you can be." The show ends with the cast of family and friends crying as they leave for boot camp.

This opens up a whole new realm of opportunities for the network and actors, especially if the two friends are placed in a pilot of their own, a la Gomer Pyle, which itself was a spin-off of Mayberry RFD, a show based on the real life town of Mount Airy, NC, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Winston-Salem, from whence Ben Folds was born and raised. 

If such a show is spun off, I would hope that CBS would film it on real North Carolina dirt, not astroturf. Perhaps their fictional lives would have them join an a cappella army choir  and appear on Live! with Kelly. Oh, the irony!