TV’s Chicken & The Egg
Last week IO9 reported that rumors of the death of FOX’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were greatly exaggerated. Don’t watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles? That’s okay, neither do I. I know nothing about the show, who stars in it or even what it’s about other than it has something to do with the Terminator movies and Wil Wheaton auditioned for a small part. I know that last bit because I used to follow him on Twitter. I stopped because he never, ever responded to any of the @replies I sent him (and I sent him a few). Seems to me you could at least try and answer your fans every now and then Wil. Where was I? Oh yeah, I don’t watch the SC Chronicles.
I also I didn’t watch FOX’s much-hyped “Drive”, or the X-Files rip-off Fringe, nor the lame-ass Sci-Fi Channel remake of Flash Gordon. I’m a total science fiction fan and these shows are made for geeks like me, so why didn’t I watch these shows? The answer is simple. I didn’t want to get hooked because I knew they had about as much of a chance of surviving as a Red Shirt on a routine away mission. Ratings for Fringe are nowhere near what FOX wants, Drive lasted a grand total of 2 episodes and Flash Gordon got cancelled after one season. And although IO9 reports that T:SCC has another 13 episodes coming, somehow I don’t believe it anymore than I believe Knight Rider will survive to make its first turbo jump.
So herein lies the problem. Viewers don’t want to emotionally invest in shows they don’t think will last. But if no one tunes in, then nothing ever becomes successful enough to survive and flourish. I didn’t watch the first season of Heroes partly because I thought it was all hype. Of course the hype was deserved and season one became a mega-hit. When the DVD’s were released, I plunged in and enjoyed season 1 from start to finish. Sadly, season 2 was a waste and I’m starting to get a sinking feeling about season 3 as well.
Given the fact that science fiction shows usually have life spans of Tribbles instead of Trills, how do you as the viewer, decide which series get your attention? I never watched Firefly when it aired, but fans often tell me that it was one of the best sci-fi shows on television. Despite the piss-poor treatment FOX gave it at the time, they say it was well worth the abrupt cancellation to enjoy the few episodes that aired. I find this very difficult to believe.
Often, the fatal flaw for these series are networks that disintegrate them before they have a chance to develop and grow their core audience. What TV shows have you passed on for fear of having the remote snatched away? There’s no guarantee, for example, that the historic ratings success of Battlestar Galactica will translate to the new spin-off series Caprica. But if I know the Sci-Fi Channel, viewers may not even get a chance to set a season pass for Caprica before it’s blasted out the nearest airlock. A note to trigger-happy network executives: if shows like Sarah Connor or Caprica are to earn a place on my TiVo, you have to learn to say “I’ll be back”, and not “Hasta la vista, baby.”
You only have to look at how things used to be to know this is a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that I can play games or be on the internet instead of watching TV. Watch the first season of anything now considered a “classic”. Or to extend this further, listen to the first album of a band who released their first album in the 70’s. A lot of those SUCKED. But having learned, they went back and gave it another shot and did far better and continued to improve.
There is no longer a market for developing talent, you have to be VERY good to start with or lucky.
Though everybody seems to dig Heroes, which I find bland with content and originality. Where’s the good old times where ‘original’ rimed with out of the box series?
I do not see those kind of show anywhere today, hence, my interest in American television, Canadian television or any television has been crumbling away.
Media, video games and such, that are slightly different of classic or completely new and energic are simply killed off for the shows that brings the money. Original content gets hacked off for shows that goes now where for two or three seasons but people are simply hypnotized by such lame televisual contributions…
I tried watching ‘Sarah’, I think because you recommended it. But I just couldn’t get into it. Possibly because I loved Firefly so much, and it was weird to see River talking so much.
Now there’s a show that got shitcanned way too early. I loved me some Firefly.
I watched the first few episodes of Terminator, but I couldn’t get into it. Too much “shoot ’em up” for my taste in a TV show.
I’d be watching Heroes even if it wasn’t popular. I’ve been watching since episode 2 of the first season, and I’ll watch it until the end. I usually only watch two or three shows regularly at a time. Right now, they’re Heroes, LOST, and The Clone Wars. Definitely, a sci-fi theme. I’d probably watch more, but it’s a big time investment for me. I have to pick and choose which series I want to follow because being a parent usually trumps TV. And, there’s a lot of other things happening as well.
Good post, Ged 🙂
I decide if I want to watch the first few episodes. If I do, and I don’t develop a taste for the show by then, I drop it. I dropped Heroes after about the third show in season two. I’ve stuck with “Sarah” so far, but haven’t watched every show. “Fringe” may be a ripoff, but I don’t really care – I find it compelling at times and interesting almost all of the time.
But I’m also not the typical Sci-Fi geek, either. Didn’t care about Firefly (I watched about 40 minutes of the first episode before I gave up), haven’t ever seen an entire Star Trek (the TV show, let alone the movies), and think George Lucas should have had someone else write the dialog in Star Wars movies. Oh, and I don’t watch and never will watch Battlestar: Galactica.
So, I guess I’m not entirely sure why I’ve commented here. 🙂 Watch a few episodes and decide then – why not? In the day and age of DVRs – and multiple DVRs per household, even – do any other plans of attack makes more sense?
Another excellent post, Ged.
Personally, I was rather fond of Firefly, Heroes and T: TSCC. Alas, all fell victim to either premature cancellation or second season retooling (ignoring the maximum: if it ain’t broke…).
Regarding the latter. I’d be intrigued to know your thoughts on retooling and even midseason retooling. FlashForward anyone?
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