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October 6, 2015

Did TV execs get kinder and gentler this year?

by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 23rd 2008 8:28PM
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Has anyone else noticed the lack of hair trigger cancellations thus far this season? We're a good month or more in now and only Opportunity Knocks and Do Not Disturb have had the plug pulled. And believe me those needed to happen. By now, though, your high quality shows that have underperformed like Pushing Daisies usually would be doing just that ... pushing up daisies. But, for some reason, not this year. At least not yet.

Hell, ratings-challenged shows like Knight Rider and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are even getting full season pick-ups. And that's FOX giving Sarah Connor a chance to find an audience! FOX!! I think what we're seeing is the continuing fallout from the Writer's Strike last year. Remember when the execs were talking about how they were going to rethink their approach to television, ordering fewer pilots and possibly even altering the landscape of television in regards to seasons and sweeps? Well, the fall season started up pretty much like it always has, but I do believe there are far fewer shows waiting in the wings to replace this season's failures.

Maybe someone in accounting finally ran the numbers on just how much money a network loses when they yank the plug so quickly. Think about the development of the show, hiring the cast and crew and filming the episodes. Throw in the marketing budget and then... What's your return if you air only two or three episodes and shut it down? There's a lot of television on the air right now. Maybe your viewers have spent the last few weeks trying your competitor's shows because they sounded better, but now they want to try yours because the rest suck. You canceled it already? Damn!

It's actually been a more recent phenomenon, this quick cancellation of new shows. And it never made much sense to me considering that shows, like Seinfeld and Cheers, which took a while to find their audiences and become top-rated shows. I wish I knew why the networks stopped doing that, because in reading responses from our readers here and elsewhere across the net, we've become jaded about new shows. Many potential viewers don't even bother to tune into new shows because they're convinced that the powers-that-be are just going to go ahead and cancel it.

Just run down in your head all the amazing shows you fell in love with the last five to ten years that just had the rugs pulled out from under them prematurely. Now, in cases like Jericho, it often turns out that the networks made the right decision, but that show was given a full season in the first case to maintain an audience and it didn't.

I don't even want to get into the fact that it was pulled from the air completely for months on end during that first season. And look how well that tactic has done for the sophomore shows that didn't come back after the strike last year like Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money and Chuck. After nine months with nary a rerun in site, these shows are all down in ratings in a major way. U.S. audiences are apparently very "out of sight, out of mind."

The question is, have the networks actually learned something? Will they change their trigger-happy ways and will wary viewers try new shows? I'm not a good judge because I always try new shows, even though I too am fairly confident that it will probably get canceled on me. Especially if I love it; I'm lucky that way.

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Ric Kaysen

Less to do with the softening of TV execs hearts and more to do with the realities of the current state of the economy. Constantly rolling the dice on new pilots to replace marginally performing shows can no longer be economically justified. The purse strings are tightening....the sailors are sobering up.

October 25 2008 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mc

Maybe they finally realized that everyone has low ratings.

October 24 2008 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, Sarah Connor is produced by a Fox subsidiary and Knight Rider is produced by a NBC/Universal subsidiary, so why cancel them? It doesn't hurt that 20th Century-Fox has a new Terminator movie coming at that could build interest in the Sarah Connor Chronicles and vice-versa. These just sound like sane business decisions. Regardless, it makes no difference to me because I think both shows suck.

October 24 2008 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jimmy's comment

Sarah Connor is produced by Warner Bros. Nice to see the networks giving shows a chance to build an audience.

October 26 2008 at 3:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whatever the reason, I'm really pleased that shows like Chuck and Pushing Daisies, both of which have been excellent out of the gate this year, are getting a chance to live on. As for Terminator, I still watch it, even though it's annoyingly glum.

October 24 2008 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Crusoe needs its plug pulled. And that's probably the only new show I think needs to go away. It's not worth watching, at all.

I also don't like Worst Week, but it's not as bad as Crusoe.

October 24 2008 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I alway's think of "Smith" when talking about shows being pulled too fast. Ray Liota isn't like a huge movie star but he's a pretty decent actor & has been in some really great movies. I wonder how many projects he turned down in order to work on "Smith", only to have the idiots in tv-land cancel the damn thing after 3-THREE !-episodes. And the show couldn't have been cheap to make, they had car chases & explosions and lots of good effects, all to be cancelled. If I were him, I'd never listen to that network again. Fool me once...

October 24 2008 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know its flogging a dead horse, but I think Arrested Development would have been a giant hit if Fox had stuck it out another two years. It's already left its cult status behind, but it pains me to think we could have had another three or so superb seasons. It was truly the height of comedy.

October 24 2008 at 6:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really? Jericho was the right decision? Playing havok with the schedule, creating a false long hiatus, none of that played into the lower ratings?

I swear to GOD this site gets dumber by the *day*.

October 24 2008 at 3:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to malren's comment
Jason Hughes

I hesitated to even bring up Jericho because a longer explanation is really necessary, and I know there are passionate fans on here. I was one of those, too. My point is that by the time the first season ended, the damage had been done by all the stupid things they did that you mentioned. At that point I think the show was beyond saving. Could and should it have been saved during the first season? Yes. Could it still have worked on SciFi instead even after they f***ed it over? Yes. The bottom line is that they canceled it after destroying it with the hiatus and then reluctantly brought it back where it didn't even have the same feel as the first and it failed again. At least they offered some sort of closure for fans, which is more than most can say.

But thanks for you continuing support of the site.

October 24 2008 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am absolutely with comment # 4. if they will pull the plug on shows, and they will....please bring closure....even if it is with a webisode or somehing like that.

October 24 2008 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Perhaps the networks have bought less shows as well. In the past how many series' have networks purchased to air within the year, both during the fall and then again during the spring? Usually if a series doesn't find an audience after four to six episodes they would cancel the series and put another pilot in its place. Perhaps the networks have bought less series to do that with. Maybe, and I emphaize the maybe, networks are not being so quick to pull a series that may have a cult follwing, because while the series may not be so hot in ratings, there is a loyal fanbase that watch it every week. This same fanbase that will then purchase the series when it hits DVD. And how many fans of shows like "Firefly", or "Wonderfalls" are angry that thier favorite cult series is only 13/14 episodes long? Maybe the networks should at least give these new series a full 22 episode season, if they feel its still not going to get any better ratings then its got now, fine, at least the fans will have a 22 episode season DVD set, instead of just 9-13 episodes.

October 24 2008 at 2:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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