Judging shows by their covers

Emmy hopefuls packaged in creative ways

A lot of time and money goes into packaging Emmy screeners. Here’s a look at which ones work — and which don’t.

THE GOOD

In addition to being mailed out early, Showtime’s Emmy boxes are a classy and relatively compact effort. Full seasons of most series are included, as is a nice letter from network topper Bob Greenblatt promising to send ATAS members any episodes not in the box. Each project gets its own info-filled envelope, making it easy to tell everything apart.

Rival HBO’s single box was equally classy, and even more user-friendly. Academy members only get a couple episodes of HBO shows, however — a bit chintzy vs. Showtime’s largess.

PBS and A&E both went for the boxed-set looks with their screeners, and they largely work. PBS box in particular is sturdy and simple. But the A&E box has a seal that’s difficult to break. Why the added security measure? These boxes aren’t on shelves at Best Buy, guys.

Following sister net Showtime’s lead, CBS Paramount mailed out the full season of “Everybody Hates Chris” even before the show’s season finale had aired. Smart move, as was the eye-catching milkbox container in which the DVDs were housed.

Bravo put its screeners into the same simple box used by studios to release full-season collections of TV shows on DVD. Duh! All the studios and nets should follow suit.

Also keeping things simply but snazzy: 20th Century Fox TV, which put its “My Name Is Earl” in a flat package designed to look like a scratch-off lottery ticket.

THE BLAND

Packaging possibilities for buzzworthy skeins “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” are endless. So why did Touchstone send out all three shows in a cheap-o cardboard mailer, with “Scrubs” thrown in for good measure? Worse, trying to get the DVDs out of their containers was far too difficult and time-consuming. It’s fine to say the shows should be the star, but sometimes simplicity is overrated.

Fox’s “24” mailer — an all-white cardboard box with the show’s logo embossed in the center — did nothing to capture the excitement of the thriller, or to catch voters’ eye. Likewise, Sci Fi’s plain black box for “Battlestar Galactica” was cool, but maybe too cool. You had to look inside to figure out what you were supposed to be watching.

THE CLUNKY

Hands down, FX gets the award for over-the-top grandstanding with its ginormous box of DVDs. Whole thing measures nearly 2 feet across, reducing mail carriers all over New York and Los Angeles to tears. Storing and disposing of the thing is a pain, which makes one wonder: What the hell were they thinking?

Robert Halmi is a master showman, so it’s no surprise he’d send out his remake of “The Ten Commandments” with a pair of cheesy plastic tablets. It does make an impression — and the tablets are magnetic, making them fridge-friendly.

NBC Universal’s mondo box of product is innocuous enough.

But its egalitarian approach is annoying: Does a DVD of “The Office” really deserve to be in the same box as screeners for “Teachers” and “Last Call With Carson Daly”?

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