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

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Old January 19 2011, 07:08 PM   #1
23skidoo
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Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

OK, I know we'll never agree on what shows we like, especially when it comes to SF or fantasy. But I think we all have to agree, by this point, that TV ratings have no correlation on quality. (The proof for the theorem: Firefly. If you feel low ratings for a sci-fi show - or indeed any show - is because the show is bad, you have to therefore conclude that Firefly was a bad show. Didn't think so! )

So right now we have Chuck, V, No Ordinary Family and The Cape on tenderhooks because of their ratings. You have blogs saying they're dead in the water, in part because they're not getting 15 million viewers. V scored something like 5.5 million viewers last night, which was apparently a big bounce over last week. NOF did the same.

Meanwhile, Being Human on SyFy scores about a million (enough for instant cancellation anywhere else) and not only are people thrilled, I'm sure Toby Whithouse and company probably already have their second season commission. Likewise, Doctor Who is called the highest-rated show on BBC America, with numbers that are tiny when compared to the UK. But for fans of those shows, there's little to worry about in terms of cancellation (well, DW wouldn't be cancelled regardless what BBC America does - it's the UK ratings that matter for it - but you know what I mean). I bet Torchwood will do huge numbers for Starz, which probably means they'll be happy with a million viewers as well.

I guess the point I'm getting to is, I wonder how long before the mainstream networks in America decide enough is enough. It's pretty clear that the people who watch ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox (ignore the others in this argument; they do cable ratings anyway) are interested in either "real-life" dramas - The Good Wife, Harry's Law; cop shows - NCIS, Hawaii 5-O, CSI; or reality TV and competition shows. They don't want to watch shows about superheroes (maybe blame Heroes for that), lizard aliens, universe-jumping FBI agents - and if there's a 20-episode story arc involved, you might as well turn off the lights. (That last example may be a bit weak because even in SF fandom a lot of people seem to hate long arcs.)

And it really does seem that the media - if not necessarily the networks - continue to think that Neilsen ratings are the only real measurement to go by, even though shows like V have been proven huge in time-shifting and downloads. And the public reads this, decides V isn't worth watching because a) it's bad because the ratings are low or b) it's dead so why invest time to watch a dead show.

If we end up losing NOF, the Cape, Fringe, V, Chuck and the one or two others out there, all at once - and the signs are a clean sweep is possible this spring - is that going to be the end of fantasy/SF shows on mainstream network TV? Maybe it could be argued that SF/F doesn't belong there anyway. If V scored 5 million viewers on SyFy, that would be one for the record books. If Showtime was making The Cape, odds are us fans wouldn't be dreading the next log-in to Zap2It.com, expecting to see "NBC cancels The Cape" on the headlines. I wish they'd just follow the UK model and commission shows a year at a time; even if Doctor Who scored a 1 rating in the UK, the BBC wouldn't cancel it before showing the complete season. We need NBC or Fox to commit to full seasons, not leave us hanging whether a show like The Cape might be gone in 4.

Thoughts?

Alex
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Old January 19 2011, 08:12 PM   #2
BillJ
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

23skidoo wrote: View Post

If Showtime was making The Cape, odds are us fans wouldn't be dreading the next log-in to Zap2It.com, expecting to see "NBC cancels The Cape" on the headlines. I wish they'd just follow the UK model and commission shows a year at a time; even if Doctor Who scored a 1 rating in the UK, the BBC wouldn't cancel it before showing the complete season. We need NBC or Fox to commit to full seasons, not leave us hanging whether a show like The Cape might be gone in 4.

Thoughts?

Alex
The economics of an American show vs. one on BBC are completely different. BBC has a set revenue stream that it receives from the British government regardless of how the programs airing perform.
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Old January 19 2011, 08:13 PM   #3
crookeddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
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Old January 19 2011, 08:20 PM   #4
Gojira
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

crookeddy wrote: View Post
Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
I rather like NOF and last night's episode was particularly good.
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Old January 19 2011, 08:37 PM   #5
bigdaddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

crookeddy wrote: View Post
Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
Yeah Chuck is long over due.

V, The Cape and NOF are HORRIBLE shows, god awful shows that deserved to be canceled, sci-fi or not.

Fringe everyone wants one more season so they can close up shop, it's an awesome show that was just treated like shit but Fox... surprise surprise...

So less sci-fi show equal better to the OP? I really don't get this topic.

Space Therapist wrote: View Post
I rather like NOF and last night's episode was particularly good.
Wow... the last episode was the best. Maybe if they made a show where half the audience didn't ditch in 3-4 episodes ti would get another season or more episodes.
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Old January 19 2011, 09:35 PM   #6
Mistral
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

crookeddy wrote: View Post
Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
V bites, agreed, but I'm having a good time with The Cape.
NOF is amusing-and something I can watch with my kid without worrying about the content. Never cared about Chuck.
I expect the Networks will kill them all off, though. Fringe-great show but can it survive? Who knows...
Never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Skiffy. At least I'll still have a few shows to watch...
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Old January 19 2011, 09:49 PM   #7
bigdaddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

The only great sci-fi show I can think of that Sci-fi Channel had was Farscape. Sure if gave us one great season of SG-1, but they didn't start the show, and Atlantis was being planned years before the movie to Sci-fi. Don't get me started on BSG.

The networks give us tons of great shows, even if they don't last. The X-files, Sliders, Fringe, Wonderfalls, Firefly, Invasion.

Good shows die too young and bad shows continue forever. TV creators should just realize if they get a 13 episode order end the 13th episode on a closure moment, if they get a back nine do the same thing.
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Old January 19 2011, 09:51 PM   #8
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

Mistral wrote: View Post
Never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Skiffy. At least I'll still have a few shows to watch...
What?? I haven't seen anything really good on Sci-Fi for some time now......?
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Old January 19 2011, 11:12 PM   #9
crookeddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

Mistral wrote: View Post
crookeddy wrote: View Post
Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
V bites, agreed, but I'm having a good time with The Cape.
NOF is amusing-and something I can watch with my kid without worrying about the content. Never cared about Chuck.
I expect the Networks will kill them all off, though. Fringe-great show but can it survive? Who knows...
Never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Skiffy. At least I'll still have a few shows to watch...
NOF seems kid friendly until they start talking about casual sex, or have murder scenes. Kind of weird actually.
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Old January 19 2011, 11:44 PM   #10
bigdaddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

crookeddy wrote: View Post

NOF seems kid friendly until they start talking about casual sex.... Kind of weird actually.
How do you think most of the families watching started.

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Old January 20 2011, 12:26 AM   #11
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

Yes, they should drop sf/f and everything that doesn't appeal to the widest audience base.

The question is whether they are willing to admit that the game is over and all the creative stuff will now move to cable. It won't matter to the corporate parents because they have network and cable outlets and can just have their content match the outline.

But for the folks working on network TV, it sucks. To envision your future as wall to wall cop shows and family sitcoms would be severely depressing for anyone with an ounce of creativity.

I wish they'd just follow the UK model and commission shows a year at a time;
Why would they do that? It just means committing to a show that could very well be a financial drain. It's obvious by now what works on network TV vs cable. Committing to a year or ten years or a million years won't change a thing.

label wrote: View Post
Mistral wrote: View Post
Never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Skiffy. At least I'll still have a few shows to watch...
What?? I haven't seen anything really good on Sci-Fi for some time now......?
Caprica was all they had, and that was too slow and talky and unfocused even for a cable network.
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Old January 20 2011, 12:34 AM   #12
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

bigdaddy wrote: View Post
crookeddy wrote: View Post
Chuck has already had a long run, V, The Cape, and NOF are really bad shows and had no chance on any network. Never watched Fringe, but it already had a multi-year run. Relax.
Yeah Chuck is long over due.
Yes Chuck used to be great but now it is just overstayed its welcome.
V, The Cape and NOF are HORRIBLE shows, god awful shows that deserved to be canceled, sci-fi or not.
V is pretty bad. The Cape and NOF aren't horrible just pretty bland and doesn't offer anything new that most of us have seen a million times before. Also NOF is too kiddie for my tastes.
Fringe everyone wants one more season so they can close up shop, it's an awesome show that was just treated like shit but Fox
Fringe-awesome? Not really. It is slightly better than most of the shows in this thread but it still suffers from so-so characters, a forced romance that just doesn't work, uneven writing, too much predictable filler, stupid sci-fi mumbo jumbo that saves the day. The only redeeming thing about the show is the mythology--without it I would have dumped it years ago. Take away the mythology and you have a poor man's X-Files.

Frankly I have to aplaud networks for having embraced sff as much as they have thanks mostly to the success of LOST. The problem in my opinion has been that sff shows this decade barring a few exceptions have been mediocre or awful so there is no mystery why not only casual viewers but sff fans have dumped most of them leading to their cancellations. The past ten years are littered with weak sff offerings--Invasion, Threshold, Surface, The 4400, Heroes S2-4, V, Flash Forward, Caprica, Stargate Atlantis, Andromeda, Stargate Universe, Smallville, Life on Mars, Haven, The Cape, Torchwood.
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Old January 20 2011, 12:37 AM   #13
crookeddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

bigdaddy wrote: View Post
crookeddy wrote: View Post

NOF seems kid friendly until they start talking about casual sex.... Kind of weird actually.
How do you think most of the families watching started.

Way to cut out the part I wrote about murder.
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Old January 20 2011, 01:14 AM   #14
bigdaddy
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

crookeddy wrote: View Post
bigdaddy wrote: View Post
crookeddy wrote: View Post

NOF seems kid friendly until they start talking about casual sex.... Kind of weird actually.
How do you think most of the families watching started.

Way to cut out the part I wrote about murder.
Well murder didn't fit into the joke very well, unless you live in Springfield MA.
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Old January 20 2011, 01:28 AM   #15
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Re: Time for mainstream US networks to drop SF/Fantasy?

Chuck = repetitive
V = bad
No Ordinary Family = silly
The Cape = not even going to bother watching

Give me something consistently good and I'll watch on network TV.
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