The Internet gives old shows new life and current shows a way to involve viewers in a way TV never could. Have you heard of minisodes? Get ready. Sony is about to release its Minisode Network, initially an exclusive on MySpace. M

inisodes are quick versions of old TV shows like Charlie’s Angels boiled down to five minutes for Web audiences. Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett-Majors andJaclyn Smith have a meeting with Charlie on the intercom and get right to work. After a couple of fights and chases, they get the bad guy. The end. “We’ve been looking for a legitimate way to make money from our library. Something that could bring new life to shows that have been on the shelf for awhile,” Steve Mosko, president of Sony Television, told The New York Times. All Sony needs to do is some quick editing. Surfing on the user-generated content feel, Sony is looking for an edgy look. “You could almost look at this and say a group of college kids put this together,” said Mocko. If it is a success, Sony might launch its very own Minisode Network later. Using the Internet to breathe new life into old shows is nothing new. AOL and Warner Brothers launched In2TV last year. Of the dozens of classic TV shows and cartoons available for free, Wonder Woman seems to be the most popular. Advertising is the backbone of In2TV. Series hook viewers online The first service the Internet can do for TV series is let their fans watch at a convenient time. Just go to the sites from ABC, NBC or CBS. Full episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Friday Night Lights, The New Adventures of Old Christine and many more are routinely available online. NBC even offers “webisodes” of The Office to keep viewers watching during seasons. But there are more ways to hook in viewers. Some strategies provide them more information about the shows (photo galleries, bios, episode summaries). But other tools seek to involve them and get them to participate: message boards and wikis where they can exchange about their favorite shows, games and other ways for them to participate actively (CBS gave viewers 15 seconds to record a message to Bob Parker, the retiring host of The Price is Right). In an interesting twist, the Internet has even given audiences a way to pressure networks into keeping shows on the air. One example is Veronica Mars, a CW show that survived only because loyal fans rallied and lobbied via the Internet. It is doubtful that a pre-Internet letter campaign on behalf of the show would have yielded the same results. Move from the Internet to TV And then there are the examples of Internet celebrities that made the move to the small screen. They were literally discovered online. Such was the happy destiny of Stevie Ryan, an actress who became famous on YouTube as Little Loca and who just landed a job on CW’s show Online Nation where she will be reviewing – what else? – “the best, funniest and most bizarre amateur Internet video clips.” She followed in the footsteps of Lisa Donovan, aka LisaNova, who now is on Mad TV or Andy Samberg who joined the Saturday Night Live cast. Expect more Internet-made celebrities to cross the border. Isabelle Boucq for Atelier   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at