Is 2011 The Year That Network TV Gave Up On Geeks?

We’re still a few days away from the official announcements of the networks’ fall schedules, but one thing is clear from the news that we’ve already heard: Genre television is essentially dead on mainstream networks, at least for the time being.

True, we won’t know all the details of what shows will make it on to the final schedules until the end of next week, but the news this week that high-profile projects Locke & Key and Wonder Woman have both been passed on by their networks should underline the fact that whatever faith schedulers had in supernatural, superheroic or science fiction dramas in the wake of shows like Lost and the heady, successful early days of Heroes is long gone. As far as I can tell, Fox’s Terra Nova seems to be the only new high-profile fantasy series aimed for primetime this fall, and that may simply be because so much money has already been spent on it – and two different launch dates missed, for that matter – that it’s too expensive not to run with it.

(There’s also ABC’s Once Upon A Time, which looks like a take on DC/Vertigo’s Fables, updating fairy tale characters to the modern world, but I’m unsure how important fantasy is to that, as much as soap operatics and character types. From what I’ve heard, it’s very focused on the latter, with any fantasy elements in the background.)

In a way, you can’t blame the networks for shying away from the genre. Lost and Heroes aside, you have to go back to Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The X-Files to find any true hits from fantasy programming on network television, and the many, many attempts that we’ve seen to replicate those successes – V, FlashForward, The Event, to name just three – have demonstrated a tendency to launch well and then lose audiences very, very quickly and on a weekly basis. Even the longer-running fan-favorites like Fringe are almost continually on the bubble in terms of ratings, and in fear of disappearing forever. Considering the cost involved in these shows, doesn’t it make more sense to invest in safer, more dependable shows?

And yet, it’s not as if audiences aren’t looking out for this kind of material… They’re just looking for it elsewhere. The Walking Dead was a massive success for AMC, and there seems to be no end of superhero or science fiction action at the cinemas this summer – Fantasy seems to be back in a big way this year, in fact, after a relative breather last summer – so… are network television planners getting it wrong in not continuing to push the genre?

I’m unconvinced, to be honest. We know that, when such shows become hits, they tend to become phenomenon that capture audience imaginations in a way that few shows manage to… but we also know that those successes are hard to come by (It’s got nothing to do with quality, either; think of things like Firefly or Pushing Daisies that never find a large enough audience despite being wonderfully made and utterly enjoyable), and such success doesn’t necessarily sustain past those initial flushes (See: Heroes after season 1, or Buffy, which got cancelled on its original network after its fifth season). Network television, with its need for mass audience in as large a slice as possible to survive, just may not be the right vehicle for good fantasy television, and this year’s lack of genre programming may reflect a growing awareness of that sad fact on the part of those who make the important decisions.

What’ll be interesting to see is what happens with ABC, which has two live-action Marvel shows in development. I’m sure both Hulk and AKA Jessica Jones will make it to pilot, but will they make it to the air given what the 2012-2013 TV landscape is going to look like? And if they don’t, where will that leave Marvel TV as a division of Marvel as a company? Right now, I’m sure there are some very nervous Marvel execs praying for Terra Nova to hit huge, despite the odds, this fall…

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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/shonuff77 Kalu Ekeh

    Have to say the thing that has affected ALOT of these shows is pacing and tendency for network execs to push shark jumping instead of  letting the stories flow.   Or trying to be the next new hotness in the same vein of the previous show that had similar characters, plot, etc.     Stargate Universe – prime example -  the show should have gone high adventure, medium drama, NO DAMN EMO.  No Ordinary Family,  there were some huge plot holes in it.  V’s fail …..  the Tyler centric portions of the story line (I never did a standing ovation for the death of a, and I use the term loosely, protagonist character, but DAMN  I was happy he died).  Some shows needed room to grow (Flash Forward being one of those) . 

  • Shortpacked

     overreact much?

  • http://twitter.com/tomdaylight tom

    Would yet another sub-par superhero show (ie Wonder Woman) have been good for ‘geeks’? The networks should either produce something of quality, or stop wasting everyone’s time.

    Locke & Key not being picked up is a shame. I’m reminded of the abandoned Global Frequency pilot. Still, we have The Walking Dead, which is not to be sniffed at.

  • http://twitter.com/AdamDrivesFar Adam Kirby

    The Hulk show probably won’t ever happen because zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    But the Alias show has a lot going for it, so that should be cool. 

  • Wildstorm

    IMO I think the problem with sci-fi type shows  that the networks put on is that they are trying too hard to keep an audience by having them being these epic full season stories instead of one and done episodes.  Look at V, The Event, Lost, Heroes, and Flash Forward.  All shows that never had a singe story wrapped up in one episode.

    Sure X-Files had an underlying theme of a government consperacy and came back to it every so often but you could pop in any dvd from the series, watch it and be done with the story from start to finish.  Whereas you pop in a dvd of Lost and you still are left with a story to continue until the end of the season. 

    Also with networks its all about money.  As long as new people are watching a show and their share keeps growing then their is a good chance it will stay, but once those numbers plateau and there are no “new” viewers watching then you can be certain that even though it may be a good show it will be cancelled (I am looking at you SyFy channel).

    I can see why NBC passed on WW.  There is just too many fans that will tear apart the show and also look at what NBC tried in the past with reinventing old shows.  Knight Rider and Bionic Woman were just torn apart by critics and fans of the old series (even though I liked KR until it the car was able to morph into a panel van and a F-150).

  • Mwedmer

    The number one reason that Networks are wrong, is because they still rely on Neilson ratings to determine a shows success.
    However, they in no way ever use viewing counts of online sources. Which is the mistake. People tend to watch more of the current network programming on their computers or mobile devices when it is more convenient for them. Hell I watch FRINGE on Saturday mornings, because for me that is the best time to watch it. 

    THe reason shows like Walking Dead are not affected by internet veiwing, is because they are not availible to view on the internet. If they were, I am sure their ratings would be in the toilet as well.

    Face it and accept it, TV as the Networks have always known it, is dead. People have even cut back on buying Televisions because they can access their stuff in other ways.

  • http://twitter.com/MrRandyWatson1 Randy Watson

    It’s a Graeme McMillan article. Of course it’s an overreaction and dripping with pessimism.

  • dane

    I have to say I’m glad David Kelley’s didn’t get picked up, his version of Wonder Woman would’ve sent the character back decades developmentally. I was dissappointed to see V, Stargate Universe, and Human Target go as they were finally getting good. IMO, it just proves that you can’t take too long in setting up the series premise when making a sci fi/fantasy show.

  • Kwaku

     Fox will have Terra Nova and Alcatraz, NBC still has Grimm and Awake, and ABC will have Once Upon a Time. I’m all for having more genre shows on the networks but having 5 of them in a single season doesn’t seem so bad. 

  • Scud

    More like with shows like Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Walking Dead, The Killing and Breaking Bad network tv is giving up on crappy writing. I wish CBR would follow suit.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Would people really want the networks to track what they’re watching on the internet? 

  • Kguillou1

    I disagree. I think these days people tend to be more interested in shows with season long story arcs as opposed to one-and-done procedurals. Look at Lost for example, the whole appeal of that show was that there was this huge mystery that kept the intrigue of the audience. It made people want to tune in each and every week to get the next piece of the puzzle. People are suckers for that kind of stuff. This is why Smallville never really grabbed me because there were too many filler/one-and-done episodes and not enough mythology and arcs to keep me interested in watching the next episode.

    I think there NEEDS to be a gimmick or some kind of hook that will make people want to watch each and every episode otherwise people lose interest. There needs to be that sense of “Holy crap i cant WAIT til next week!”

  • Billygridley

    Network tv sucks for the most part. Get HBO, Showtime, or AMC and watch some quality narrative driven shows if you’re so upset

  • Adg2789

    Awww, the networks are just sore losers. Humorless to boot. They should go ahead with the series and then take it direct-to-DVD. No one wants our beloved Princess of Themiscyra to be sullied by the hands of non-devotees, anyway. 

  • Peyton

    The problem lies in the fact that SciFi can’t thrive in a Hollywood that has been trying to minimize the importance of writers, which is what has been going on since the Writer’s Strike. V, No Ordinary Family, The Event are all shows that had interesting concepts but had piss poor writing. The writers on those shows wouldn’t know a plot twist if it came up and kicked them in the goolies. Heroes didn’t start to fail until the second season when the writing spiraled downwards into a pile of cr*p.

    On the flip side, a show like The Vampire Diaries, in the surface a cheap Twilight ripoff that never should have made it through the first season, delivers shocks and surprises every single week. And it performs well in the ratings.

    Walking Dead doesn’t do well because it’s not on the internet. It does well because it’s well written.

  • Coryjameson

    I don’t think the people in charge at TV Networks would know a good show if it came up and bit them on the ass. Those studio execs have even less of an ear for good science fiction shows. The other problem is that special effects are still very expensive.

    Now I know that people will jump down my throat for saying the following but: FRINGE NOW OFFICIALLY SUCKS ASS. The first half of season three was fantastic, but then the ridiculous demands of the studio executives to have standalone episodes completely annihilated the second half. The writers focused on the plot points that they shouldn’t have and ignored the main story threads that they should have. They’ve literally destroyed Fringe. I haven’t watched it since the end of February and I don’t intend to watch the stillborn fourth season.

    The final problem is straight teenaged girls. They have no taste and they’re really incredibly stupid: see Twilight and Vampire Diaries. I’m sorry to be so harsh but only lesbians have great taste in Science Fiction. So unless the military perfects their “gay bomb” that they’ve been developing in pseudo-secrecy, great science fiction on TV is doomed. Doomed I say.

  • Logan’s Midnight Runner!

     I don’t know that I’d go so far to say that networks gave up on the geeks, that’s a bit overdramatic.
    For every crappy doomed from the start Wonder Woman tv series or not picked up Locke And Key there’s a The Walking Dead. It’s just in how they are done and to what quality. W.W. didn’t measure up. 

    My sincere hope is that the Wonder Woman movie (which new WB Pres. Jeff Robinov said IS in development despite this now-defunct tv series) will be more faithful to the spirit of the source material than that stupid idea for a tv show.

  • Sageshinigami

     Mehhh….it’s easy to figure out what happened, and it isn’t that network TV gave up on geeks.  The Wonder Woman pilot was crap (no one has heard positive things about it), and Locke and Key went to Fox, whih has finally progressed to the point that they cancel good things before they even air.  As far as successes…half of the shows you mentioned that failed were either badly done (V) or didn’t have legs in the first place (Flash Forward). 

    As far as Hulk and Jessica Jones goes, Disney bought Marvel, so I’m gonna guess that Disney wants some of Marvel’s properties (animated or not) on television to make some money.   So I think they’ll get at least a season. 

  • http://johnleescomics.wordpress.com John Lees

    It totally sucks that Fox passed on Locke & Key, especially
    considering all the reports were that the execs were raving about it.
    The pilot was supposed to be beautiful, engaging, one of the finest-made
    pilots of the year, with those who saw it supposedly claiming it had the potential to build a mythology and
    committed fan following to rival Lost. Which ironically is why Fox passed on it, given how that goes against their current “mindless piffle” initiative. At least Locke & Key has the rare distinction of getting the axe for being too good.

    I hope it manages to find a home elsewhere, likely on the cable channels that quality drama is retreating to. It could actually
    work out better elsewhere, given how cutthroat and cancel-happy the
    folks at Fox can get.

    It’s sad that network television seems to be going full circle. It
    seems we’ve gone back to the freaking dark ages. I remember hearing
    about how the original Star Trek pilot got passed on for being too cerebral when execs just wanted “Wagon Train to the stars”. Or watching an interview with Leslie Nielson where he talked about how the legendary Police Squad
    was a disastrous flop that never made it past 6 episodes because people
    had to actually watch it rather than having a laugh-track that could
    tell them when to look up from their newspaper and pay attention. I
    heard stories like that and thought, “Well, thank God we’re not that bad
    now.” But it seems like we’re going back to that time. 

  • Wildstorm

     Long arcs are what people DID want but it seems they don’t want to invest the time anymore as seen by the cancellation of V  and FlashForward and soon Event.  And shows that have that one and done can still have that underlying story like X-Files had the government conspiracy or the Darksied arc that was just finished in Smallville.  And not every show needs a gimmick.  As long as the show is good then people will watch.

    Also tv execs think they know what the tv audience wants.  I think in this day and age of posting shows online, that all new pilots should be posted for a short time.  This way they can see if people are willing to watch them and also have a survey that can be filled out only after viewing the whole pilot.  Also you would think with a lot of people hooking up their DVRs to the internet that they would somehow use the info from that as a new Nielsen rating system.  You can opt into it and then it would just compile what and when you would watch a show.

  • yoda

    I say good because there will be a drought for a couple years and then when the next fantasy/sci-fi show makes it to the networks it will drop on us like a LOST bomb. 

  • Anonymous

     Please let Hulk not make it to series. All of the street level characters they could use and they go for one that causes millions of dollars in property damage every 15 minutes.  Why?  And if you say because of the old show, then you have a slap coming your way.

  • Mwedmer

    Who cares what the people want. If the networks actually worked with sites like Hulu for example, they could at least track how many people are using that method to view the shows.

    Studios are stupid, proven by the fact that they put shows on Friday night that are geared towards the 18-25 set, who are usually out on a date or partying on a Friday.
    That is the night they need the cop shows and the reality TV on.

    @CoreyJameson; To bad you gave up on FRINGE so early, the season was very good overall and they actually stayed on course with the overall plot.

    Walking Dead is great. There is no doubt about it, but, if people had a site like Hulu to watch it at, or even if AMC offered that service, you would see people watching there and the ratings would end up lower because of it. 

  • Carloshll726

    I actually like the new Wonder Woman show. NBC should’ve given it a chance.

  • Jon

    Personally, I’m glad Wonder Woman wasn’t picked up.  It didn’t sound that interesting, and while the actress playing Wonder Woman looked good the cast didn’t exactly “Wow!” me, (and honestly, you know the pilot will be online in the next few months to see for ourselves).  

    I have the opposite opinion.  I feel there is an over-saturation of shows meant for “geeks”.  Doctor Who, Stargate (although finished), pretty much anything by JJ Abraham, Fringe,  the entire Sci Fi network, not to mention programs on G4, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and Comedy Central were are defined as “Geek Friendly”.  This summer, like 2008, is a big comic book movie summer.  I really think it’s about quality more than quanitity.  To say that producers worry about seasons instead of episodes, I guess that depends on the show.  Babylon 5 was meant as an ongoing story, where X-Files (in the beginning) was a episode-by-episode show.  

    Much like half the comic books today, I feel the big problem is that writers and creative executives are brought in and don’t know the first thing about characters or how to move a Sci Fi plot.  Wonder Woman and Hulk TV shows from the 1970′s, although nostalgic, really aren’t that good.   They were all using the “Six Million Dollar Man”  as an example to do a Sci Fi show.  (See the main character use their powers twice during the show, once 20-30 minutes into the show and  once toward the end.)There were hardly any comic book references, but had the one character to move the show forward. 

    Again, it’s all about the $$$!  Maybe someone will stick their neck out there and change the story structure of a Sci Fi series.  Until then, I’ll be watching Neil Gaiman’s episode of Doctor Who tonight.

  • Anonymous

    eh it is what it is.

  • momaw

     ”Long arcs are what people DID want but it seems they don’t want to
    invest the time anymore as seen by the cancellation of V  and
    FlashForward and soon Event.”

    Or could it be people are no longer prepared to invest in a show as they are scared it will just get cancelled?

    Studios are far to quick to pull the pin and they are paying for it with people not being prepared to take risks anymore.

    It’s a vicious circle.

  • Wildstorm

     I also believe that people do not want to invest their time in shows anymore.  They spend all the time getting to know the characters and their predicament and then all of a sudden it is cancelled. 

    This is one of the reasons why Eureka will be the last SyFy show that I watch.  Once it is over than I will be getting rid of the channel due to it now becoming the new Mtv.  It quit showing sci-fi and started showing crap like wrastlin’ and reality shows.

    If a show doesn’t have 20 billion people watching it every week then it isn’t worth showing.

  • Omegasaga

     People want REALITY TV period. end of story.

    there are very FEW operatic shows like LOST that people tolorate.  However- Lost created and entire legion of Season by season OPERATIC  themed shows like it. 

    another thing to consider is that legal or not- EVERYTHING is  on the internet.

    And finaly- everything runs in cycles: what was popular or in demand 5 yrs ago – no longer is. but it might be again.  People loose interest in things and move on.

    Wonder Woman will end up online like MERCY REEF ( aquaman)  and maybe get green lit into a PROPER movie version

  • Drunk Bastich

    People should just frelling avoid the sci-fi/fantasy genre on the mainstream networks, ’cause the execs hate them because they’re expensive, so they try to have as much control over the content as possible, which is why you get drek like Smallville and Supernatural. Heroes was a fluke because the execs didn’t know what is was they were getting, and you’ll notice that it began to suck immediately after season 1. I apologize for the rambling stream of consciousness typing, but that’s rum for you.

  • Drunk Bastich

     Totally. We should not have to settle for crap. Get Joss Whedon’s ass back on the Wonder Woman project. YOU F***ERS at WB need to unclench your anuses and allow the man to work his mojo!!

  • Drunk Bastich

    Oh, can it. I’m sick to death of people responding to the messenger and not addressing the message. He’s sick of getting crap and being told it’s good television. Why aren’t you?

  • Jeffgibsonosu

     This writer starts wi8th a stement and tries to justify his overreactions in a   multitude of post — how many complaints do you haveto get before you see that this guy is not the best guy to report on this site — replace him… you lost another reader here. !!! Shut up Graeme the sky is not falling to henny penny sycophant!

  • Matthew Lane

    Because the only difference between normal tv shows and geek tv shows for the most part is that one is everyday crap & the other is science fiction crap. There both still crap, one just happens to be crap in your favoured genre.

    Also Graeme McMillan totally overlooked Powers which is meant to be premiering later this year.

  • Matthew Lane

    Not just that studios are terrified of letting genre pieces be genre pieces & instead try to make them idiot friendly. Look at how this last session of Big Bang has been dumbed right down for the average person.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VRW7FJWTM2MT6P2SJTIJO5S4MI graehaus

    What really killed TV in my opinion, was and is this lack of brain functioning reality shows. Survivor killed tv for all us nerds.
    People think we all want to see “dirtywater”jim hoodwink the votes, et al. After seeing what SGU did for an ender, I am mad and furious, there was no end. Smallville was the same BS, BSG same . Hire us geeks to write your shows, and we shall show what a good show can do. And making TV from books, can we get a real premise going.

  • Harry_stewart70

    Original ideas and episodes are good then the shows are strip mined to death. In britain shows have a beginning a middle and an end, not a slow lingering death (i.e. Lost). After episode 1 of Lost I knew all I had to do (and did) was watch the last episode whenever it came along. The rest in between was purely there for the advertising revenue. 

  • Lord Gridley

    As for the Walking Dead, it is hugely popular in my group of friends, and theirs and all of them watched the Walking Dead online as opposed to on AMC. I would say its more readily available then most network TV online. Hell, it leaked two weeks early. Same with Game of Thrones, I know a ton of people who watch it online, I am one of the only who watches it on HBO around here, and the ratings seem to do well still. Maybe its the QUALITY of those shows!

  • http://twitter.com/SSJPabs SSJPabs

    SGU found a good balance in the second season, particularly the end, but of course the first 10 episodes ranged from boring to wooden to awful.

  • Eightiesologist

     Buffy didn’t get cancelled by the WB, it voluntarily transferred to the UPN after negotiations stalled with the WB (who wasn’t willing to spend MORE money on the show).

  • Anonymous

     I think the problem is the desire for these shows to be “network” shows. Obviously the benefits are massive if they succeed on ABC, NBC,FOX and so on. The problem is that to be financially worth it those networks need true mass appeal. They need weekly amount of many millions of viewers. Unfortunately, shows like Lost are more the exception than the rule. Mass appeal is unlikely after the first few episodes. That’s why these shows thrive on networks like AMC and SciFi. Give them 3 million an episode a week and they will pop champagne.  on ABC, NBC,FOX and so on. The problem is that to be financially worth it those networks need true mass appeal. They need weekly amount of many millions of viewers. Unfortunately, shows like Lost are more the exception than the rule. Mass appeal is unlikely after the first few episodes. That’s why these shows thrive on networks like AMC and SciFi. Give them 3 million an episode a week and they will pop champagne. 

  • Kd

    As a viewer. I lose interest with such a long gap from the Fall finale, to the late Spring return. And, then when they are back, more breaks in between. That’s a big part of the problem right there. They need to get away from the long hiatus format, and promote the fact that shows are returning to the air better. Most times there is little advertising for the return of the shows.
    Also, the fact that the networks have absolutely no interest in giving shows room to grow…they cancel them before they’ve had a chance…or they cancel a show and give us an incomplete series, (which is a reason why avoid shows on certain networks: NBC, Fox, and SyFy). It’s like reading a book where the ending is missing…who wants that?

  • Nicksmitty

    Network television programming is selected from a slate of pilots commissioned and presented every year with hopes of making it onto the fall prime time television schedule in the following season. These shows are judged on a number of criteria, most simply in terms of “quality”.

    There were few, if any, “quality” genre shows presented in time for the 2011-2012 season.

    The end.

    You boys should stick to comics. Your film and television articles are constantly reaching in hopes of finding a story.

  • SageShinigami

     Uhmmm…..WTF are you talking about?  You named three shows, and one of them was canceled.  Then you want on to name a network who is so scared of being affiliated with geeks they actually changed their name so people wouldn’t complain anymore when they put on wrestling, another network that has almost no original content, and what little they DO have are about interviews/news, a single block on CN, and Comedy Central which is really “everyone friendly”. 

    Perception versus reality, sir.  We are told these places are “geek friendly”–that doesn’t mean they are. 

  • Wildstorm

     Unfortunately, shows are NOT chosen by quality.  They are chosen on how much money they can generate either through merchandising or advertising.  If shows were chosen on quality then we wouldn’t get crap like Jersey Shore, Cave Men, The Cape, Joey, The Event, Shit My Dad Says, or V.

  • Anonymous

     Awake and Alcatraz are both sounding great, and intelligent.  BUT- I already hear “Alcatraz” being compared to “Lost”.  That needs to Stop NOW.

  • http://twitter.com/shawnrichison shawn richter

    Uh, Supernatural is kind of Awesome.  Just sayin’.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O6F5MLZO6HELXSBWSRHVSEWTAI Dee Jay

    I dont normally reply on these post..I like to lurk but I have to say, just for me it is not the possibility of a show being canceled that keeps me away from them. A few years ago I knew “Kings” was not gonna make it. It was way to smart and involved but I really liked it and watched it every week checking the web the next day for what i knew was going to be it notice of cancel. Likewise I didn’t watch “Lost” didnt care for it. I think the biggest problem is that TV executives. I will use” Heroes” for example.  When first announced Heroes was going to have a rotating cast it was going to be a show about how all these different people dealt with this one event that changed their lives. Sounds great…then the show became a Smash and nobody wanted to mess with it. So All the actors became regulars and we lost the idea of rotating cast..but we didnt lose the idea of telling the same story over and over so we culd keep the cast around. The show got redundant lost and bad and honestly I think that most of the people in charge (not the writers) had such a disrespect or the genre and the people who watched the show that we got those last 2 seasons.

    I feared Wonder Woman would befall the same fate, as did “The Cape” and “Ordinary Family”  those shows clearly didnt seem to care about or respect the genre of the storys they were trying to tell. When you are embarrased by your work it  shows, so not only do you lose the fanboys your target audience…but you don’t get those who are along just to seee a good story.

    Just my 0.02

  • Loveanddestruction

    They saw how bad Wonder Woman was, if not the rage from fans angered at the portrayal of WW, and said “no”. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. CBM’s are still making lots of money, and shows like Smallville and Supernatural have been popular, and Big Bang Theory with its stereotypical view on geeks, so I’m sure it’s simply because what they saw just didn’t scream “money making” if nothing else. We should be grateful that a network doesn’t pick something up if they’re not truly behind it, or if it’s going to be bad, spare the fans grief. After all, we still have people viewing comic books as if they’re the 60′s “Batman”.

  • Wildstorm

    Why remake and just show the original shows.Why waste money on screwing up already beloved shows?  

  • Jeff

     Power will be on FX.  This article was about Network shows

  • comicfan

     Isn’t better for the genre shows to cable? cable channels have very different ratings standards and will always air a season to completion. who cares what channel a tv show is on as long as its on.

  • Shadowpdf

    There’s been no giving up on the geek.  Next big geek moment will get a try by some network.  The rejection of Wonder Woman, in fact, seems to be based at least partly on geeks having their say.  Those in the blogosphere and on Twitter and Facebook, etc., stood almost uniformly against this version of Wonder Woman.  From the costume to the leaked scripts (especially the elements that appeared consistent from one script to the other) to Kelly’s writing tendencies and style to the rather cheesy photos released by the studio in an attempt to gin up support all met with derision.  From all we saw, this version of Wonder Woman was going to be bad.  Apparently the finished product did nothing to allay the concerns raised by fans.  But it was the geeks who spoke; and it was the network that listened.  The right take on Wonder Woman, I’m certain, will meet with enthusiasm at the network or at a movie studio.  And let’s thank geeks that this version will not see the light of day.  DC is trying to work its way into a run of movie franchises to rival Marvel.  This version of Wonder Woman would have set back that effort 5 or more years, just like the last Superman movie did.  Imagine where DC would be now, movie-wise, if both the Batman and Superman franchises had been good.  Maybe a WW movie?  Maybe a Justice League movie?  Certainly movies starring other key DC characters.  But Superman failed.  The Batman franchise is closing (for 3 to 5 years) after the upcoming release of Dark Knight Returns.  And there doesn’t appear to be much else on the near horizon.  At least now there is a cleared playing field for a new producer/developer to come along and claim some character in the DC universe, make it his/her own, and wow us  without having to overcome the ugly memory of failed WW show.

  • Brian from Canada

    Jersey Shore is not a network show.

    Cave Men had huge response as an ad campaign, though was poorly conceived.

    The Cape was NBC’s answer to the strong start “No Ordinary Family” and trying to recapture the big audience of “Heroes” — which on paper looked right but bombed because of poor writing.

    Joey had one of the six most bankable stars on TV. And did last a full season, if I recall correctly.

    Shit My Dad Says had the same backing material as many sitcoms from recent years, and is actually doing decently.

    V stumbled with poor programming by ABC. Show 3, hiatus, restart? And then there’s the fact that we already know how V ended originally — so the fact that it’s lasted this long has been astonishing given ABC doesn’t know how to promote it.

    For most of the shows you mention, it’s paper-good, audience-rejected.

  • Brian from Canada

    Network planners have different criteria than cable and cinemas — and it has nothing to do with that competition.

    That competition doesn’t rely on advertising revenue based on comparison with their competitors. If you look at HBO, and Game Of Thrones, there’s no ads period. AMC and SyFy have ads and numbers, but those are rarely compared to the networks (except when you’re putting the most expensive show in the slot with two of the highest rated shows on networks).

    And for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CW, the strength of that one show also has to carry into the next show to win the night and for the overall network as well. Good shows that can’t carry the stronger numbers from the previous hour are losers; dominant blocks can push other nights through interior advertising.

    Geek TV or Reality TV, it has to answer those criteria. And the fact of the matter is, Geek TV is harder to get those successes because the geek audience just isn’t big enough to carry a show on their own — they need to have the general audience as well. 

    That’s why Fox pushed Joss Whedon to make more done-in-one Dollhouse episodes at the beginning: revealing long conspiracies all at once asks for a commitment that just doesn’t attract those numbers.

    What smaller questions does Flash Forward offer? The Event? What did V start with?

    Lost, however, had that by setting up smaller challenges for survival and leadership at the beginning to get you invested in the characters. Buffy, for all its success, didn’t show the ties to earlier episodes until the end of the first year, just as Babylon-5 did. Until then, they were done-in-one.

    Even Stargate did it that way. Look back at season 1 of SG-1 and you’ll see the pilot sets up a long quest, but immediately offers the possibility of other stories until they run into that same villain again. And so, within a few episodes, they’ve expanded the storyline possibilities much more than other shows have.

    (The ONE exception is 24, but 24 had a huge marketing push and a very tense storyline with one hour challenges in between to keep you hooked on the action.)

    Against all this, Locke And Key gets passed on right now because Fox just can’t see it on their schedule — not when their roster is built around American Idol, Glee, House and Bones… and Bones is going on hiatus quickly thanks to a baby. Does it fit with any of those? And what night will you put it on to compete against the other networks?

    Wonder Woman appeared to have a better shot until you realize this is the network that tried to repeat the success of Heroes (and failed with each subsequent year) followed by The Cape. Bionic Woman and Knight Rider remakes were also ripped apart for missing the charm of the original. And with very poor response on the Internet to the early news, weak response to the test audiences, and nothing else to carry with it, NBC would be taking a huge gamble on that series when there are other ones which just seemed safer bets.

    To take risks, you need to be either desperate or in a position that you can risk it without harming your other nights. Smallville got its start from a network of hero teens like Buffy and Charmed. Lost was dropped in an ABC looking for another Alias.

    These two shows? No goes from the start. It looks like the other networks might have a better shot, though.