You know, I'm in complete sympathy with people who are wary about the idea of only distribution, episodic releases, etc., but most of the feelings I've seen expressed smack of a total unwillingness to even make an attempt to give the concept a shot rather than basing their concerns on any real evidence.
The games will be shorter than a normal game. That's your "catch." But there are benefits to this, such as the games being released in short intervals and the possibility of having many of them. The games will not be ten minutes long, that's completely ridiculous. They're going to be smaller than your normal epic-sized adventure because Telltale doesn't have the money to fund a full-scale adventure game for over two years and to release it as a boxed product on retail shelf, where without the kind of marketing and financial muscle that a company like EA can provide it won't have a prayer of selling over well-known franchises that dominate the marketplace. You and I know Sam & Max are quality characters, but I don't think you'd disagree with me that these days if someone was spending fifty bucks on a game they'd buy something they were familar with, something they know is just like any other game because fifty dollars is too much money to gamble with for some weird crimefighting animals. And unless your game is a prominent title, it's not going to get stocked everywhere or stay on the shelf for a prolonged period of time, further decreasing its chance of being bought or even noticed. In short, Telltale pushing one huge Sam & Max adventure game in a market not receptive to it would be suicide in more than one way. They're a company less than two years old, and while they're former LucasArts employees I'm guessing they don't share the comany's pocket book. So think a little bit before accusing the Telltale Sam & Max game of being an unappealing experiment as if Telltale has complete choice over the matter.
Secondly, nothing I've read about the game implies that it will be like pay-per-view (brilliant analogy, by the way, just like your Final Fantasy one). My understanding is that each episode will consist of a "case," that will be self-contained in some way. I think we'd all like to have a big game sold in a box, but maybe it's just not possible. And perhaps if everyone would stop seeing online distribution as some wretched replacement for buying the game in the store you might discover that the idea has, gasp, some pretty exciting possibilities. Further, online distribution provides an effective outlet to get adventure games directly to people who want it. It's beneficial for both sides and gives Telltale's titles a better chance of finding an audience, especially if their budget is tight.
I think we should voice our concerns here, but let's at least be slightly open instead of knocking everything before we've tried it or know anything about it?