Annotated Television


"It is a brilliant idea - spice up otherwise boring music videos with cool facts popping up in bubbles." --Description of Pop Up Video on IMDB.com

Until George Lucas decides to continue the Star Wars saga with new post-Return of the Jedi live-action adventures, I am forced to endure more prequel filler. The Clone Wars cartoon is one such example. Being the hopeless fan (or sucker) that I am of that galaxy a long time ago and far, far away, I watched the series. And now Lucas has gotten me to watch it again by presenting Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- Decoded, an annotated version of the first season.

Basically, it's like Pop Up Video for Star Wars. You remember Pop Up Video on MTV -- old music videos made fresh again with facts and trivia popping up like bubbles on the screen. It was fun and addictive, and it gave me a new reason to watch videos again that I'd probably seen dozens of times before.

This type of video annotation, as I call it, has become a trend lately. The G4 network aired Classic Star Trek episodes again as Star Trek 2.0 with interactive commentary and factoids appearing during the show, whose repeats I had seen ad infinitum, but the new pop-up strategy worked and it made me watch them all again. Shows like Lost, with convoluted plots and multiple mythology mysteries, sometimes air episodes with streaming info adding insight for clue-seeking viewers.

It's a natural evolution for television. Print has always offered opportunities for more details about existing text -- footnotes, explanations in the margins, endnotes, indices, glossaries of terms, maps, illustrations, and more. Internet text has hyperlinks that allow a user to click on certain words that take them to supplementary information or other sites about a keyword. DVDs allowed video content to provide in-depth audio commentary, "easter egg" elements, deleted scenes, making-of documentaries, alternate endings, and much more. So television shows are progressing and trying to broaden their format. Pop-up info enables them to do that, letting them repurpose old content in a seemingly fresh way in the hope that people will watch it again.

So tune in to The Clone Wars -- Decoded if you want to learn more details about the Star Wars universe and see an example of annotated television on display. I'm still waiting for Episodes 7, 8, and 9, though, annotated or not.

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