Back in the day, say, the 1990s, a television press kit might consist of a VHS tape or DVD, maybe a folder of glossy photos and information about the show.
Some screeners are still sent to critics in no-frills packaging. But there is a growing trend among some of the networks that's wildly imaginative, particularly for sci-fi and fantasy shows. A fairly large box arrived at the Post-Gazette before the holidays, bearing episodes of Syfy's "Being Human," tucked in with a bottle of Bloody Mary Mix, a drinking glass, herbal tea and Altoids mints.
Syfy also sent screeners for its horror show, "Helix," in boxes embedded with heavy plastic helix designs, some dark liquid rolling around the DNA strand. Syfy's "Face Off" has packaged screeners with makeup kits and one season, a set of stick-on decorations like the Colorforms we played with as kids.
But the best of the bunch might be the press kit for "The Monkey's Paw," an original movie set to debut tonight at 9 on Chiller (which is owned by NBCUniversal, same as Syfy). Based on W.W. Jacobs' classic tale that warns "be careful what you wish," it's a cautionary tale about a man who is granted three wishes and finds nothing but grief.
The press kit is a grey, hardbound book of "grim rhymes." The concept and design are by Luke Watkins, with creepy limericks by Eve Penzer and black-and-white sketches by David Lupton.
A couple of examples:
"Demetri loved Madeline heaps
And he wished he could have her for keeps
But his heartfelt confession
Caused a dangerous obsession
Now she stands at his bed as he sleeps."
"Stefan made a wish to be free.
And to live in a home by the sea
But above the Pacific
His wish wasn't specific
And so lost in the ocean he'll be."
Chiller is carried in the Pittsburgh area on Verizon FiOS, DISH Network and DirectTV.