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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why is it always the good ones? An essay on TV Cancellation

So I like TV.  Most people do.  Americans watch more TV than anywhere else in the world.  We have reality TV, and Sitcoms and Game shows and Sci-Fi (when spelled korrettly), and everything you can of which you can think.  So why do the good shows always get cancelled?
Well first you have to establish what makes a good show.  Everyone has their own opinion.   Not everyone agrees, either.  Is a good show simply one that does well in the ratings?  If that were true, then the mission would be simple.  But it’s not.   It’s not about good writing; heaven knows that, if that was true half the shows on TV now would never have made it on the air.  The mind next jumps to cast, and crew such as directing, production and editing.  If wishes were horses than all men would ride as the proverb goes.  So a good show must be a combination of all these ingredients. 
One thing that people can agree on, a reality show is NOT a good show.  People always watch them but call them “guilty pleasures” or “shows we love to hate”.  I believe the reason why, is that they lack one of the key elements talked about in the about paragraph, good writing.  Some shows have had directing, even “stunt casting” but without a story to follow, we don’t engage with a “character”
So why do they cancel the good shows?  Occasionally, you a good run out of a show, but generally you get a great show with a limited run playing forever in syndication.  Star Trek the original series is one of the classic examples, cancelled after 3 seasons.  Firefly is a modern example, only running one season to return as a motion picture, Serenity and continuing to hold conventions to this day.  SyFy formally SciFi channel has a bad record when it comes to cancelling good series Warehouse 13, Eureka, Merlin, Alphas, Caprica, Farscape, Sanctuary,and both Stargate(s).  Other channels notorious for cancellation include Fox (Firefly, Futurama{Later Saved by Comedy Central to get canned again}John Doe, Dollhouse, Terminator:Sarah Conner Chronicles, Tru Calling, Grounded for Life, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Tracey Ullman, and Till Death) and CW which included the former WB and UPN networks.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roswell were both cancelled by WB then picked up by UPN.  WB killed Birds of Prey which I personally love although some people didn’t.  It was a different take on superheroes, with women in charge.
Then, there is the mess the networks make of programming.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  When they decide to bounce a show from timeslot to timeslot; that is usually a death knell.  People like knowing when their show is on.  Yes, most people have DVRs, but we don’t have multiple ones.  If you put too many shows on at one time something has to go.  Why take the chance it’s going to be your show?  Chances are if you’re moving your show that’s the one that’s going to get the boot.  Sorry.  Best example I have.  I liked The Vampire Diaries.  I read the books when I was a kid, before the current vampire craze.  I was watching the series.  It got moved to Thursday nights.  I’m now so far behind I’m waiting till it comes out on DVD.  Now the show that was opposite it is off but I just can’t catch up.  It sucks.  Pun intended.  I would love to try the new spin off series, but there is no way to catch up properly.
To wind things up, Networks be wary.  The internet is now able to take much better action regarding cancellation of shows.  Next time you decide to can our favorite show we may decide to can your network.