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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old December 20 2010, 10:51 PM   #1
Temis the Vorta
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genre TV on networks

Good article on the struggles of genre TV on networks.
The 4 genre dramas on the major broadcast networks right now, Fringe, No Ordinary Family, Human Target and The Event, attract the same average audiences of 5-6 million viewers as cable series The Walking Dead and True Blood. (Fringe's viewership is even lower, 4.5-5 million and will probably go further down when the show relocates to Fridays, but the series is a major DVR gainer, which brings it up on par with the others.) Maybe this is the ceiling for genre series no matter what type a network they are on. For a cable net, that is a great number but for a major broadcaster, it is way too small.
Pretty much what I figured: the genre TV audience isn't large, playing around the 5M range for first-run viewing, which is fine for cable's business model but untenable on network TV. So the analysis isn't exactly groundbreaking but it's a good list of upcoming genre shows in development. I hadn't heard about the "paranormal drama set in the Amazon" before. The absence of space opera even on cable is disappointing. Every so often, I see references to space opera series in development, but they never seem to get past the rumor stage.

The article also lists period dramas in development at networks (which other than sf/f, is my chief interest). Too bad what passes for period drama is too recent for my tastes. Anything from 1950 onward shouldn't really count. But pre-1950 stuff would probably follow the pattern of genre shows: keep it on cable. That Romeo & Juliet series won't last long on ABC.
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Old December 20 2010, 10:59 PM   #2
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Re: genre TV on networks

From my experience, it's not that the genre audience is too small. It's just that they don't watch these shows on TV. Most of us have been burned so many times that we have more of a "wait for the DVD" attitude towards our programming, because for all we know it's going to end up getting canceled without a proper ending.

I love genre TV, but I sure as hell don't waste my time watching it when it airs.
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Old December 20 2010, 10:59 PM   #3
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Re: genre TV on networks

And it seems David E Kelley is taking his time with Wonder Woman...

Wondering where the updates on David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman TV project are?
Zap2It.com has been too, and they caught up with the prolific producer for some news.
“There’s no real deal in place yet, but yeah, my intent is to take a stab at it,” Kelley told the site. “I’ve been working on it between scripts for Harry’s Law. It’s a very, very different genre for me, a very tricky beast. I won’t know whether I’ve cracked it or not until I’ve finished it, but it’s going.”
“I’m at the point where I’m trying to figure out if I can make the franchise work for me. If I can’t, I don’t want to delude Warner Bros. or anybody else that I should be doing it. The way I’ve always worked has been to write a script and discover, in the process of the writing, if it’s a fertile and creative place where I want to live. If I feel I can make the characters my own and it’s a world rich enough for me to revisit, that’s a good sign to me that it’s a series worth doing,” he continued.
Kelley is very immersed in writing Harry’s Law, and acknowledges that he’ll have to focus in order to truly discover if Wonder Woman is a right fit for him. “That’s a challenge, because it’s kind of a busy time,” he says.
Sounds like this isn’t something that will be ready for Fall 2011 after all.
You can read the complete Zap2It feature here.
http://www.ksitetv.com/4664/david-e-...-wonder-woman/

I am not really interested in a Hulk series...would have to see the Raven series to judge it(Duh! ) and I am not sure if Blue Beetle is still in development...I was looking forward to Wonder Woman though. I will be watching The Cape.
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Old December 20 2010, 11:05 PM   #4
Temis the Vorta
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Re: genre TV on networks

From my experience, it's not that the genre audience is too small. It's just that they don't watch these shows on TV.
That's an explanation why the audience is too small (which the article doesn't delve into). But regardless of the explanation, the audience is still small, since TV honchos chiefly look at first-run, live viewing (with DVRing having some impact, especially w/n three days so the ads don't get stale).

Other explanations why the genre audience is small: the audience's tastes are hard to cater to, because they want originality, compared with the audiences for police procedurals and sitcoms, who just want the same thing, over and over again.

The folks who created The Event probably sincerely thought that they were re-creating the magic of 24 and Lost. If they were working in a more canned genre, just taking elements from previously successful shows and mashing them together into a new show, might have been enough.

It's also possible that genre audiences are more distracted by non-TV options such as social media, video games and extras on movie DVDs. I'm sure genre audiences are more likely to DVR and download shows, which reduces how
valuable they are to advertisers.

I love genre TV, but I sure as hell don't waste my time watching it when it airs.
To a TV honcho, this is a good reason to ditch serialized shows altogether and focus more on episodic shows, where abrupt cancellation doesn't matter.

Of course this does me no good. I don't like episodic shows, and would prefer to take a risk with a serialized one, even if it might be abruptly cancelled. The alternative is no serialized shows at all.
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Old December 20 2010, 11:12 PM   #5
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Re: genre TV on networks

Well, genre TV also has a tendency to be more arc-based and therefore require more of a time investment, where the police shows and sitcoms are usually more standalone. I can watch any random episode of Law and Order without ever having needed to see an episode before. It's much harder to keep an audience with arc-based shows if you don't grab them from the start.

I think that's also why genre fans watch their TV shows on DVD, because it's a lot more fun to watch them a few episodes at a time. If I tried to have a Law and Order marathon, on the other hand, I think I'd go insane.
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Old December 20 2010, 11:19 PM   #6
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Re: genre TV on networks

Temis the Red-Nosed Vorta wrote: View Post
I hadn't heard about the "paranormal drama set in the Amazon" before.
That's The River, which is in development for ABC. Here's its description: "Drama about a famed adventurer/TV personality who goes missing and is presumed dead deep in the Amazon, whose friends and crew go to look for him on their state-of-the-art research vessel."
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Old December 20 2010, 11:43 PM   #7
Temis the Vorta
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Re: genre TV on networks

I dug down in the comments till I happened on this - I think this guy has the right idea.

For genre shows to really click, aside from being legitimately good (something The Event for instance is not), they have to have the right combination of (a) dead-simple concept and (b) dissimilarity to any other show. So LOST was the mysterious island show — easy to grasp, nothing else like it on TV. THE WALKING DEAD is the zombie show — same thing.
Which brings us to Fringe. It’s great, but the sad fact is, most people who’ve never seen it aren’t clear on what it’s about except in assuming that it’s an X-Files clone.
If that's true, that might bode well for The River. Simple concept: People search for their lost friend in spooky jungle. Assuming the people are likable, the obstacles they face are scary, and what we know of the lost friend sounds interesting, that'll hold my attention for several episodes, by which time whatever the real concept is, will start to kick in (most likely supernatural mysteries a la Lost).

It'll probably be Lost in reverse, which will be unique: there are no other shows set in the jungle or where people search for their lost friend that I know of.
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Old December 20 2010, 11:48 PM   #8
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Re: genre TV on networks

Not that anyone cares...The Vampire Diaries is the highest rated show on The CW...I guess since people seem to think The CW doesn't exist...then that doesn't really matter.
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Old December 20 2010, 11:56 PM   #9
Temis the Vorta
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Re: genre TV on networks

Ah but the CW is parallel to cable in that an audience of 5M is respectable (I'm not sure they even get 5M come to think of it).
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Old December 20 2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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Re: genre TV on networks

Temis the Red-Nosed Vorta wrote: View Post
Ah but the CW is parallel to cable in that an audience of 5M is respectable (I'm not sure they even get 5M come to think of it).
3m to 3.5m is the usual range for The Vampire Diaries these days.
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Old December 21 2010, 12:00 AM   #11
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Re: genre TV on networks

^ Yeah...you beat me too it.

TVD averaged 3.6M last season and will be less this season.
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Old December 21 2010, 12:34 AM   #12
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Re: genre TV on networks

Most genre shows are crap. I'd rather watch CSI than 90% of the SF&F stuff.
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Old December 21 2010, 12:51 AM   #13
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Re: genre TV on networks

Out Of My Vulcan Mind wrote: View Post
Temis the Red-Nosed Vorta wrote: View Post
I hadn't heard about the "paranormal drama set in the Amazon" before.
That's The River, which is in development for ABC. Here's its description: "Drama about a famed adventurer/TV personality who goes missing and is presumed dead deep in the Amazon, whose friends and crew go to look for him on their state-of-the-art research vessel."
Sounds interesting.

Here in Australia, I've found that new genre programs are tried in a prime timeslot (generally 8.30pm), but many fail and end up either being screened after 10.30pm, or are shown on alternative digital networks. The later is more likely, as now all three commerical networks have a second channel for entertainment setup.
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Old December 21 2010, 02:23 AM   #14
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Re: genre TV on networks

Human Target is not in any way a genre show.
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