Greg Cox wrote:
Good points, Christopher. Indeed, in a universe in which big network shows are routinely canceled midway through their first seasons (sometimes after only one or two eps!), I've never quite understood the "Syfy cancels everything good!" refrain that tends to pop whenever a fan-favorite genre show gets axed--often after three or four seasons!
Most freshman shows get cancelled. Genre shows on cable actually tend to have better chances of survival than most.
It's also worth pointing out the difference between broadcast and cable networks. Broadcast networks can cancel a show anytime -- even after just two episodes, as with this season's Made in Jersey
-- and don't have to bother to air the remaining episodes. But cable networks, or stations that pick up syndicated programs, commit to show the entire season, always. An NBC or CW or, yes, FOX show could be pulled midway through with unaired episodes (though the current FOX regime has been much less likely to do that than its predecessors), but a cable show is guaranteed to get all the episodes of a season aired, no matter how crummy its ratings are. The only shows SciFi/Syfy has ever cancelled midseason have been reruns it acquired from other networks, like Charlie Jade
. (Which means it could theoretically happen with something like Continuum
or Primeval: New World
It's almost as though we've convinced ourselves that every genre show is entitled to at least seven seasons--and that anything less is an outrage.
Which just shows how much better genre fans have it today than they did when I was growing up. Back then, it was pretty much unheard of for a US genre show to get more than 5 seasons, and quite rare to get even that much. (I can only think of four pre-TNG genre shows that ran five seasons: Space Patrol
(the 1950 kids' series), The Twilight Zone, The Six Million Dollar Man
, and The Incredible Hulk
.) Most genre shows lasted one season, two or three if they were very lucky. TNG's success in first-run syndication really changed the playing field in a lot of ways.