Mainstream TV audiences will get a taste of the virtual world tonight in an episode of CSI: New York titled “Down the Rabbit Hole.” The show’s creator, Anthony Zuiker, a keynote speaker at the recent Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in San Jose, CA, has designed a cross-platform experience that will route CSI viewers into Linden Lab’s Second Life, where they will be able to participate in content related to the show, and can continue following the show’s narrative. A follow-up episode will air on TV on February 6, 2008, bringing the Second Life storyline back into the mainstream. For the occasion, the Electric Sheep Company has created a custom Second Life viewer, designed to make navigating in the virtual world more intuitive to a mass-market audience.
Television and Internet moguls have been struggling to integrate the two mediums for some time, with mixed success. TV shows have come out attempting to grab popular Internet videos and bring them to the small screen. From the other side of the divide, MySpaceTV launched the atrocious original Web series Roommates earlier this week. The show attempts to integrate with the social-networking site’s features to create a more well-rounded experience for fans, but it’s too vapid to maintain interest. Zuiker, however, brings a savvier perspective to the attempt and seems to care about keeping the content engaging. Although he told interviewers that his aim isn’t to impress longtime Second Life residents, he is putting some effort into CSI’s foray into the virtual world. (Interviews with Zuiker and the Electric Sheep Company’s Sibley Verbeck can be found here.)