TV's successes move onto Internet

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A handful of quirky new webisodes transplant TV success to the Web. Here's how well they manage the transition.

'Mayne Street'

ESPN Sportscenter host Kenny Mayne has always blurred the line between broadcaster and entertainer. He is known for his humorous segments on ESPN programs such as NFL Sunday Countdown , and for his foray into reality TV on ABC's Dancing with the Stars .

Now, Mr. Mayne has rescaled his comedy for the Web in Mayne Street on ESPN.com. In the first episode, Mr. Mayne and his co-host, Scott Van Pelt, are recording the close of an episode of Sportscenter , but Mr. Mayne is suddenly unable to pronounce "Rafael Nadal" correctly.

The clip is a little less than five minutes long and feels a lot like an extended Sportscenter commercial. (One of the more popular ads for the show featured Mr. Mayne combing through video while he searched for a new catch-phrase, eventually exclaiming "Yahtzee!")

Fifteen episodes in total are planned. In a blog by Mr. Mayne that accompanies the series, he says the show is "like a poor man's Larry David episode."

Mr. Mayne's comic segments on TV didn't always fit in smoothly on ESPN, but he seems a good fit online.

'The Office'

NBC's The Office has always had one of the best online presences of any TV show.

The Office site on NBC.com includes not only full-length episodes but also all kinds of features: quizzes, a mini-putt game, Schrute-Space , Meredith's Sex and the Electric City Blog, and even a mock monthly newsletter sent from the show's fictional company, Dunder Mifflin.

On Nov. 20, a new batch of webisodes debuted with a serial titled The Outburst . The four videos -- each about two minutes long -- follow the reaction of the Dunder Mifflin employees after Oscar (Oscar Nunez) has a tirade on the telephone. Everyone conspires to find out what he's so upset about.

There's really not enough screen time to go around for the talent of The Office , so they certainly deserve the spotlight on the Web.

'Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy'

As the creator of Fox's Family Guy , Seth MacFarlane has created a comic sensibility all his own, which has expanded to the show American Dad and the planned series for 2009, Cleveland .

Mr. MacFarlane, though, has also farmed himself out to the Internet, where he earlier this fall launched Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy (www.sethcomedy.com), an animated variety show.

The site is unusual in that it was created in partnership with Burger King; Mr. MacFarlane even made the Burger King ads that run before the videos. It's also being syndicated by Google Inc., so its videos appear across many sites, including Google's YouTube.

In Cavalcade , Mr. MacFarlane has stripped away all plot for just those asides.

Nearly 8 million have watched one clip on YouTube alone.


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