The Plot Thickens/Now it's Not Enough to Watch Your Favorite TV

Now it's not enough to watch your favorite TV show -- you may soon have to pay to get the full story

By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff

Madly in love with "24," or "Invasion," or "Prison Break," or "Family Guy"?

Then get ready to spend more, a lot more, time with it.

In the coming months, you and your TV addiction are going to be reeled into an expanded "environment" of your favorite network show, one that may require a cover charge for entry into certain exclusive zones.

You'll be invited to visit characters' blogs at, or pay for mobile phone episodes (known as mobisodes), or buy DVD packages and video games containing new and additional plot information. Your once-simple affair with your TV "story" could have as much to do with your PC, your cellphone, and your DVD player as it does with your TV set.

In other words, your relationship is starting to get complicated. Network TV is becoming only the first step in what is known as a "TV series." It's becoming an entry point to show-o-spheres, where you not only watch "24" on Mondays on Fox but you purchase a "24" DVD set that contains clues to the season's big mysteries.

You not only watch "Lost" on Wednesdays on ABC but you check into the weekly podcast to hear, say, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talk about playing Eko. You don't just laugh at "The Office" on Tuesdays; you laugh at Dwight's blog entries on the NBC site and on MySpace. Recently, "Invasion" even included a plot in which paranoid Dave was abducted because of his blog, which actually exists on ABC's site. And Neil Patrick Harris's Barney on " How I Met Your Mother" frequently refers to his blog, which is on the CBS site.

Extras such as commentary and deleted scenes have been with us for years on DVDs, and of course T-shirts and knickknacks are Marketing

101. But now timely information and integral plot and character developments are also becoming available outside of the televised mothership. Last week, for example, Fox announced plans to create new episodes of its animated hit "Family Guy" exclusively for the Web next year, for a fee.

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Monty Solomon
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