From a content-generating standpoint, press tour can be enormously valuable. So many people to interview, so many possible stories, so many brains to pick. But as a critic whose job it so often is to review a series based solely on a pilot episode - or to predict how an older show might rebound from a disappointing season - the tour is most useful in helping to push me one way or the other on shows where my opinion comes with reservations.
Simply put, if I had a concern about a pilot or a series and find out that the creative team shares that concern - and, even better, has some thoughts on how to properly address it - that goes a long way in helping to shape my ultimate opinion. Conversely, if they aren't troubled by what I was, or if it becomes clear that they think the strength of their show is different from what I do, then my concerns only increase.
We had a couple of instances of this with veteran shows last week, when the "How I Met Your Mother" creators said all the right things about where season five went astray, and where Paul Lieberstein from "The Office" said he thought the show's most recent year was "a strong season." Obviously, actions will count more than words, and it's possible that "HIMYM" might stay adrift even as the creators try to return to the series' romantic side, just as it's possible that Lieberstein was being diplomatic and/or that the show rebounds anyway. But I've found more often than not that when showrunners say they see their show the way I do, that it's apparent in the finished product.
Yesterday, meanwhile, we had a couple of panels for new shows that had decidedly mixed reactions from the critics - Fox's "Lone Star" and "Running Wilde" - where it felt like the room came away much more confident about their prospects. Some thoughts and quotes after the jump...