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Old July 17 2012, 09:49 PM   #1143
Christopher
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Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

Sindatur wrote: View Post
Eh... I'm bitter over more than just Firefly Matter of fact, I wasn't even aware of Firefly until it was already gone. Dollhouse, Tru Calling and Sapce:Above and Beyond were shows I watched in first run.
But Dollhouse is a key example of how the current FOX executives are far more nurturing and supportive of their shows than the execs a decade ago were. Dollhouse got terrible ratings. The old FOX regime would've cancelled it midseason with episodes unaired, as they did with Firefly. But the new execs stuck with it and allowed it to play out its whole season, and then, once Whedon proved with "Epitaph One" (made for the DVD due to a contractual discrepancy) that he could produce episodes on a much tighter budget by using digital cameras, FOX agreed to give him another season, another chance that the old guard never would've given him -- and, again, they let the whole season play out rather than cutting it off in the middle, so that Whedon was able to bring the story to a satisfying (if relatively rushed) climax and resolution. The network gave the show all the support it possibly could -- but the audience wasn't there, and ultimately it's the audience that's responsible for whether a show succeeds or fails. If they don't watch, the network can't keep making it, no matter how much it wants to.

As for Tru Calling, I don't recall exactly, but while it was under the old regime, I think it was lucky to be granted a second season. Again, the audience just didn't come, and that's why it was cancelled. Really, the problem is that the show took too long to really find its voice and start getting good, too long to start fleshing out its mythology and story arc, so that audiences lost interest early on. By the time it started to get really interesting, it had lost too much ground and wasn't able to recover.

The bottom line is, most new TV shows fail, period. That's true on any network. The viewing audience only has so much time and attention to spare, shows are competing with other shows for that attention, and some of the shows are going to lose the competition. And SF shows have a harder time than most because of their more niche appeal and their greater cost to produce. So even with the most supportive, generous network imaginable, as long as that network is still supported by ad revenue and depends on ratings, not very many of its genre shows can be expected to succeed and endure. Yes, there are some cases where the network makes bad decisions that kill a show, like what FOX did with Firefly, or the way UPN totally failed to promote and schedule Michael Piller's Legend in a way that would pull in the Voyager audience. Or where they cancel a decently performing show for business reasons that are understandable but still unrelated to the show's own success, like when the young FOX network cancelled Alien Nation because they wanted to expand their then-limited lineup to more nights and could produce four sitcoms for the same cost as that one show. (Although in that case, FOX didn't give up on the show and kept on looking for a way to make it feasible to bring it back, eventually reviving it for a series of TV movies.) But a lot of the time, the network isn't to blame, and it's simply that the show didn't find or hold an audience.
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