Television is all about the build. If you have a hit show, you use it to build an audience for whatever program follows.
That's as true with regularly scheduled series as it is with specials. Just look at the Super Bowl and the way networks have used that event to debut a new series after the game or to give an existing program added exposure.
Using a big-event show to launch new programming isn't limited to the broadcast networks. Cable channels do it, too.
This summer, HGTV has been sneaking some of its new programs after episodes of its popular series "Design Star." In June, MTV used the "MTV Movie Awards" telecast as a launch pad for summer show "Teen Wolf," which has since been renewed for a second season.
MTV will use the bully pulpit of the "Video Music Awards" (10 p.m. today) as a promotional launch pad for three series, including one that won't roll out subsequent episodes until early next year.
Here's a look:
'I Just Want My Pants Back'
Based on David J. Rosen's novel of the same name, this 12-episode half-hour comedy won't really roll out until early 2012, but its premiere episode gets a sneak peek after the awards. Peter Vack stars as Jason, who loses his pants during a one-night stand.
"Pants" (12:15 a.m. Monday) won't win fans among the Parents Television Council, but any protest won't have the same weight as the group's strident response to MTV's "Skins" earlier this year because "Skins" was about teenagers and "Pants" is clearly focused on twentysomethings in their post-collegiate years.
Jason confides in best friend Tina (Kim Shaw), who's as promiscuous and judgmental as he is: She dumped a guy because she found a Coldplay CD in his apartment (evidently this is the height of uncool) and sleeps with a new guy because his apartment has air conditioning ("Yeah, but I like him," Tina says. "Plus it's been really muggy lately").
Rosen wrote the pilot episode, which was directed by Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity"), and the dialogue comes fast, furious and filled with pop-culture references. It's funny, but a little too smart to be believable.
Perhaps in subsequent episodes the characters will come off as more real. In the premiere, they're attractive and funny but overly cynical and jaded. It's as if the characters are constantly competing to prove to be the cleverest one on screen.
MTV's "Death Valley" (11:30 p.m. Monday) plays like "Reno 911!" meets "The Walking Dead." It's an effort to mix gore with comedy, but the show fails to rise to the laugh level of a strong "Reno 911" episode.
The concept is pretty simple: A camera crew follows police officers in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley one year after zombies, vampires and werewolves first began showing up to wreak havoc.
Some of the humor hearkens back to "Airplane!" -- a rookie officer (Caity Lotz) subdues a creature of the night in the background while Capt. Frank Dashell (Bryan Callen, "Mad TV") has an innocuous conversation in the foreground, oblivious to the mayhem occurring nearby -- but some of the jokey lines are also region-specific.
When a boom operator gets bitten by a zombie and has to be killed before he becomes a zombie himself, the man pleads for his life, saying, "I'm your sound guy!"
Officer John-John (Texas Battle) replies, "It's the Valley, man. There's lots of sound guys."
For MTV's teen viewers watching in Los Angeles with parents who work in the entertainment business, it's an understandable joke. The San Fernando Valley is a part of the Los Angeles area that's generally less expensive (and less desirable) than more central locations (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Brentwood), making it an affordable place for film-crew workers to live. But it's difficult to imagine that kids outside L.A. are going to get the joke.
MTV mainstay Rob Dyrdek ("Fantasy Factory," "Rob & Big") does his best Daniel Tosh ("Tosh.0") impression as host of this viral video series that presents videos from the Internet. Most of them are painful to watch.
Some of the videos on "Ridiculousness" (11 p.m. Monday) feature people having accidents and others show idiots performing "Jackass"-style stunts. Dyrdek comments on them all.
Episodes are broken into segments including "Redneck Good Times" (a monster truck flips in the mud, a guy riding an inner tube behind a boat in a flooded neighborhood slams into a tree), "Double Whammies" (double the pain: a guy hits himself in the crotch with numb chucks and then trips over a skateboard; an older woman on a motorcycle crashes -- into a woman in a wheelchair) and "Everybody Humps" (dog humps grandmother, cow humps farmer, dolphin humps swimmer).