10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL FIREFLY: BROWNCOATS UNITE LIFTS OFF ON SCIENCE CHANNEL THIS NOVEMBER
Highly-Anticipated Special Chronicling Joss Whedon cult sensation starring Nathan Fillion Premieres Saturday, November 11 at 10 PM ET/PT on Science Channel.
Series Marathon at 7 AM ET/PT Followed by Back-to-Back FIREFLY: SPECIAL EDITION Enhanced Episodes at 8 PM and 9 PM ET/PT–
TWITTER: @ScienceChannel #FireflyNov11
(Silver Spring, Md.) — After months of intense buzz and two blockbuster panels at both San Diego and New York Comic-Con, it’s finally time for the main event – FIREFLY: BROWNCOATS UNITE on November 11 at 10 PM (ET/PT), Science Channel reunites Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion and the entire renegade crew of the Serenity for the first time ever to provide the complete oral history on the franchise that continues to explode in popularity – despite meeting its end a decade ago. The 60-minute special includes secrets from the set, exclusive cast interviews, and footage from this year’s colossal Comic-Con panel that dominated the pop culture conversation. Joining Whedon and Fillion for FIREFLY: BROWNCOATS UNITE are Serenity crewmembers Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, Morena Baccarin, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres and Jewel Staite; along with executive producer Tim Minear and executive story editor Jose Molina.
This summer, FIREFLY creator Joss Whedon triumphantly exclaimed to a crowd of thousands at San Diego Comic-Con that “the story is alive.” Legions of fans across the world couldn’t agree more, proving that a series which is comprised of only 14 episodes had endured the test of time. Guided by Entertainment Weekly senior writer Jeff Jensen, Science Channel re-created the set of the Serenity for this epic gathering capturing the insights and memories of space’s most-rebellious flight crew – including the moment they realized they were canceled and where they believe the FIREFLY universe could live next.
“When Science Channel began airing FIREFLY in 2011, we immediately realized that these fans are a subculture united by a unique and fanatical passion for the series,” says Debbie Adler Myers, general manager and executive vice president of Science Channel. “Our goal is to present them the series they love – but in a totally new and surprising way. Whether that’s through exploring the science behind the show or reuniting the entire cast for the first time, we want Science Channel to be the home for Browncoats everywhere.”
Science Channel’s FIREFLY Saturday extravaganza begins at 7 AM ET/PT with an all-day marathon of the series. That evening, at 8PM ET/PT, the final two episodes will be enhanced and presented as FIREFLY: SPECIAL EDITION. Here, Molina gives fans unique insight into the inner workings of the series by revealing FIREFLY facts and behind-the-scenes info. Finally, at 10PM ET/PT, The Event Browncoats everywhere have been waiting for – FIREFLY: BROWNCOATS UNITE premieres onScience Channel.
FIREFLY the series is set in the year 2517, in a new star system and follows the adventures of the ragtag crew of Serenity, a “Firefly-class” spaceship. The ensemble cast depicts nine distinct characters who, have all banded together for very different reasons. Led by Captain Mal Reynolds (Fillion), who fought on the losing side of a civil war, viewers engage with characters who, are now living on the outskirts of society.
FIREFLY: BROWNCOATS UNITE is produced by Science Channel. Debbie Myers is general manager and executive vice president of Science Channel. Bernadette McDaid is vice president of production and Kaitlin McIntyre is producer for Science Channel. Jose Molina is executive story editor for the FIREFLY: SPECIAL EDITION enhanced episodes.
About Science Channel: Science Channel, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), is home for the thought provocateur, the individual who is unafraid to ask the killer questions of “how” and “why not.” The network is a playground for those with audacious intellects and features programming willing to go beyond imagination to explore the unknown. Guided by curiosity, Science Channel looks for innovation in mysterious new worlds as well as in its own backyard. Science Channel and the Science Channel HD simulcast reach more than 74 million U.S. households. The network also features high-traffic online and social media destinations, including ScienceChannel.com, facebook.com/Science Channel and twitter.com/Science Channel.
About Discovery Communications: Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 200 countries and territories. Discovery is dedicated to satisfying curiosity through more than 140 worldwide television networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery, as well as US joint venture networks OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, The Hub and 3net, the first 24-hour 3D network. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools and owns and operates a diversified portfolio of digital media services, including HowStuffWorks.com. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.
In news that makes us feel old, FOX will be re-airing the pilot episode of the comedy-classic (it’s that phrase that makes us feel old) Married with Children on Sunday, April 22nd to celebrate the network’s 25th Anniversary. Immediately following the broadcast episode of the groundbreaking series, FOX will re-air the 500th episode of The Simpsons and then a two-hour retrospective of the network’s 25 years in which Nathan Fillion will read off a list all of the good shows that they canceled during that time for no f*cking reason.
In all seriousness, as much as some of FOX’s decisions have annoyed us over the past 25 years, they have brought some of the best programming in television history and we are looking forward to the retrospective far more than the Married with Children pilot. Don’t get us wrong, we love The Bundys but FOX is aware that the entire series is available on Netflix streaming, right?
Via Press Release:
Momentous 500th Episode of THE Simpsons Also Encores
In celebration of its 25TH Anniversary, FOX is giving viewers a chance to look back at a show that defined the network and created one of television’s most iconic characters: “Al Bundy.” On Sunday, April 22, the premiere episode of “Married…With Children” (7:00-7:30 PM ET/PT) followed by an encore of THE Simpsons’ 500th episode (7:30-8:00 PM ET/PT) will kick off an historic evening on FOX.
“Married…With Children” premiered April 5, 1987 on FOX, with three half-hour broadcasts (7:00-7:30 PM, 8:00-8:30 PM and 9:00-9:30 PM) of the show’s “Pilot” episode. In the pilot, Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) gets front row seats to a basketball game, but Peggy (Katey Sagal) makes him stay home and meet their new neighbors, Marcy (Amanda Bearse) and Steve Rhoades (David Garrison).
THE Simpsons officially launched as a full-fledged series on January 14, 1990, but Springfield’s most famous family had appeared on FOX for several years in a number of animated “shorts” as part of “The Tracey Ullman Show.” To celebrate THE Simpsons’ continuing impact on popular culture, FOX will encore the series’ 500th episode, “At Long Last Leave,” in which the Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an off-the-grid community outside of town.
Immediately following these rebroadcasts, FOX’s 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) will take an entertaining look back at the groundbreaking and irreverent shows that have come to define the network. The star-studded special will pay tribute to FOX’s most memorable moments with appearances by FOX talent, highlights from iconic series and specials and reunions with cast members from some of the network’s fan-favorite series, including “Married With Children,” “In Living Color” and “That ’70s Show,” among other surprises.
Game of Thrones is an American medieval fantasy television series created for HBO by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The series is based on author George R. R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of seven fantasy novels; HBO’s overall series’ title is derived from the first novel. The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.Set in the seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime,” Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom’s seven noble families for control of the Iron Throne. – Wikipedia
Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Political and sexual intrigue abound. The primary families are the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families. Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros, asks his old friend Eddard Stark to serve as his chief advisor. Eddard, suspecting that his predecessor had been murdered, accepts so that he can investigate further. It turns out more than one family is plotting to take the throne. The Queen’s family, the Lannisters, may be hatching a plot to take control. Across the sea, the last surviving members of the previously deposed ruling family, the Targaryens, are also plotting a return to power. The conflict between these families and others, including the Greyjoys, the Tullys, the Arryns, and the Tyrells, leads to war. Meanwhile, in the north, an ancient evil awakens. Amidst war and the political confusion, a brotherhood of misfits, The Night’s Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and the horrors beyond. – iMDB
8 out of 10
First of all, we apologize for the double description but you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to actually find a decent show description at the usual suspects like Metacritic… or HBO’s homepage for the show. We suspect the reason for this is that no one but the most devoted fanboy knows enough to be able to sum up coherently what the show is about. On our end, we’re in the same boat. After watching the first episode, we can say that we reasonably understand what’s going on, but we would have no idea how to explain it. There’s a lot going on in this show with the different subplots and characters and it really plays out an awful lot like a soap opera (not a complaint, just an observation), and its serial nature and what looks like will be a weekly cliffhanger will have us coming back week after week, even though this genre has never really been our cup of tea. Don’t get us wrong, we like this stuff but we’ve always been more interested in traditional science fiction (particularly of the space based variety) than we ever have been of medieval fantasy.
That being said, Game of Thrones is the most amazingly produced series we’ve ever seen (so far… Terra Nova may be even better… if it ever airs). With a reported $5 to $10 million spent on the pilot and an estimated budget for the first season between $50 and $60 million, it’s easy to understand why. The show feels much more like a big-budget summer blockbuster film than it does a TV series and as you watch it, you really don’t want to get up to even use the bathroom because the absolute aesthetic beauty of the photography is just spell-binding. The cinematography, lighting, filters used on the lenses, and even the CGI is absolutely perfect. The Northern Ireland and Malta filming locations are absolutely stunning and authentic as are the costumes. Have we mentioned the music? Well, the score, which is composed by Ramin Djawadi, is modern and absolutely beautiful. It reminds us of the work of Sean Callery and Bear McCreary.
As far as the plot is concerned, as noted it is quite compelling but, we have to say that so far, the characters leave a lot to be desired in the likability/relatability department. Most of them, even the heroes, are pretty nasty human beings who are pretty self-centered with ZERO regard for human life and yes, we understand that the story is being told from a medieval perspective, however, it is a story for a contemporary audience (Hell, the novels were written in 1996) and the general amorality of the characters is a bit off-putting and uncomfortable. The male characters also display very misogynistic tendencies and they are quite vulgar in their misogyny as well and it really does make us a tad uncomfortable especially when watching it with Mrs. Tastic:
“I would let his whole tribe f**k you – all 40,000 men, and their horses, too, if that’s what it took.” – Viserys Targaryen… to his sister, Daenerys
Yikes! Yeah, thanks for that visual. Noooo… that wasn’t awkward at all. We suspect that the characters will become more sympathetic as the series progresses simply because we will become more attached to the storyline, but of course that will take time and as an audience, we’ll need to suspend our modern preconceptions of morality and decency for this to happen (and we’re pretty sure that despite the number of times they dropped it, the F-bomb didn’t exist during medieval times). Seriously, the characters are like a bunch of hedonistic Klingons and this dovetails into the only real issue we have with the show.
As we noted in our Being Humanreview, HBO has a tendency to overdo the gratuitous sex, graphic violence, nudity and profanity and it’s not necessary. It often becomes a distraction and usually it’s used for shock-value exclusively when the well has run dry in the writing department. After watching the Game of Thrones pilot, we are starting to think that they are just getting so used to using that particular crutch that they can’t help themselves anymore. There were three completely unnecessary nude scenes in the pilot, a sex scene that could have just as easily been implied, ditto on the fellatio scene with the dwarf, the aforementioned ridiculous and historically out of context use of the F-bomb, two graphic beheadings and an orgy/slash gang rape scene (at a wedding, no less) that was topped off by a disembowelment. Now, THAT’S our type of party.
The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.
As much as we appreciate adapted works remaining true the source material, and we’re assuming that this over-the-top content is in the novels as well, we’re kind of wishing that it wasn’t as true to the original and that the producers would tone it down just a tad. Now, we aren’t offended by any of those scenes, but as noted it just becomes distracting and it doesn’t seem really that necessary to advance the plot of what is a very good show that stands on its own merits without the need for gratuitous gimmickry.
Again, this was a bit of a minor issue and without a question, this is one of the best shows on TV and thanks to the fanboys, 48 hours after the pilot was aired on Sunday, the series was renewed for a second season. It also didn’t hurt that last weekend was HBO’s Free Preview Weekend and we’re curious if it wasn’t so much the ratings that got the show renewed, but the massive increase of subscribers to HBO post-premiere that did the trick. Boy, are we ever curious as to those Monday new subscription numbers.
As an aside, though, the fanboy factor in the success of this series cannot be overstated and inevitably will stir up the decade-old discussion of the viability of genre and Sci-Fi on premium cable. Until now, there haven’t been any successful examples to use as a point of reference. Who knows? Maybe Game of Thrones has opened the door for the possibility of the next Star Trek or Stargate series to air on premium cable (don’t forget, Stargate: SG-1 was on Showtime for five seasons before it was on SciFi) or even perhaps the rebirth of great shows that left us too early such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or even Firefly. *Sigh* Yes, we know; now our true fanboy colors are showing and we’re losing ourselves in fantasy.
“The Cape” is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons (“ER”) as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, “Life on Mars”) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, “Flash Forward”). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Vince Faraday becomes “The Cape” – his son’s favorite comic book superhero – and takes the law into his own hands.
Rounding out the cast are James Frain (“The Tudors”) as billionaire Peter Fleming, The Cape’s nemesis who moonlights as the twisted killer Chess; Keith David (“Death at a Funeral”) as Max Milani, the ringleader of a circus gang of bank robbers who mentors Vince Faraday and trains him to be The Cape; Summer Glau (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City; Dorian Missick (“Six Degrees”) as Marty Voyt, a former police detective and friend to Faraday; Martin Klebba (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) as Rollo, member and unassuming muscle of the circus gang of bank robbers; and Vinnie Jones (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) as Scales, resident thug and cohort of The Cape’s nemesis Chess. – NBC
7 out of 10
Let’s us start by saying that the relatively high rating that we’ve given The Cape of a “7” is a very qualified “7” and we kind of had to convince ourselves that it was worth the rating. The problem for us in reviewing The Cape is despite its glaring flaws and no matter how much we wanted to give it a rating of about a 5 or 6, we kept coming back to the fact that we really liked it. That being said, if it starts getting stupid, we reserve to take back that VERY generous rating.
Here’s the thing about The Cape: it’s exciting, it is literally a comic book come-to-life, and it’s very well-produced. The problem is that there is nothing original about it at all.
EVERYTHING is a conglomeration of other comic book/superhero and genre story lines and to make it worse, it rips-off elements from the more modern incarnations (see: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, The Punisher, Robocop, Superman and, yes, even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… to name a few). Now, we’re not suggesting that they use these elements badly, but it’s such an obvious copy-and-paste that you can’t help but notice and cringe… a lot. Hell, they even ripped-off Heroes which would seem like a bad idea considering that NBC just canceled that show.
Now, that’s the biggest issue with The Cape. The other more irksome issue is the absolute ridiculousness of the action sequences and the visual effects. They are way over-the-top and go beyond the level of, “Well, we’ll just have to suspend our disbelief.” We are personally sick and tired of standard bullets from sub-machine guns and pistols causing fuel tanks explode. Has no one in Hollywood watched Mythbusters? The only way to make a fuel tank explode into a massive fireball is with with incendiary rounds…. and a FRAKKIN’mini-gun.
Oh, and one more thing: a human being cannot survive a fall out of a 50 story building by using a car to break their fall. Do you now see why these sequences irk us?
Beyond those problems, though, we hate saying this but this show is a crap-load of fun and has a lot of potential to be one heck of a ride week after week if audiences are patient with it. The characters are pretty are well-developed and the performances are strong and believable and there’s enough complexities with them to flesh out some compelling story lines. It has more the feel of a summer blockbuster than it does a weekly prime-time drama.
What hurts The Cape is the aforementioned lack of originality. On its surface it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and this generation of audience is a fickle lot with genre in prime time. The Cape has a lot of potential to be a great show. Let’s just hope it becomes a great show that people want to tune in to.
If you haven’t heard already, Fox has moved the J.J. Abrams fan-favorite Sci Fi thriller, Fringe, from the Thursday at 9:00 p.m. slot to the dreaded Friday at 9:00 p.m. slot. Now as much as we here at The ‘Tastic love Fringe (to the point where we consider it to be one of the top five shows on television), we weren’t necessarily surprised by this because as we’ve pointed out, FOX pisses their pants every time they see a ratings drop.
We also noted that while the other major networks are starting to take Friday nights seriously once again, FOX has decidedly NOT taken this approach, designating the night for reality shows and as a dumping ground for shows that haven’t done as well as they had hoped which is usually the fault of FOX to begin with (see: The Good Guys for the most recent example of this and our analysis here). So, we’ve come to accept that no show is ever safe on FOX and that without fail, if a show is designated for Friday night it will not be renewed at the end of the season or if it is, it will wither pretty quickly the following season. Now, with Fringe, there’s been a bit of a twist in this whole saga this week, which we’ll get to shortly, but first, it is necessary to address a fact of life that we’ve really been holding off on admitting for a long time but here it is:
FOX is an awful network and quite possibly the worst network ever… period. End of discussion. FOX is worse than The CW and it may possibly be worse than UPN or The WB ever was. The network is poorly run, they make terrible, amateurish decisions regarding their programming, they have absolutely no idea how to market quality programming in order to pique interest and they don’t give shows a chance to build an audience or even maintain a modest one. We will remind you that this is the same network that canceled Family Guy and the only reason it came back after a three-year hiatus is because The Cartoon Network aired the 49 episodes it had acquired the syndication rights to at 11:00 p.m. nightly and it gave THAT network the highest ratings in its history. So, to make this clear, a show FOX cancelled after only 49 episodes put another network on the map when they aired them… at 11:00 p.m.
The only reason FOX has had any success is because they have had a handful of successful shows that they have MILKED TO DEATH. Here’s the thing about that: a successful show should be able to give a network a lot of leeway with their programming and give a lot of other shows a chance to build an audience and become successful. What this means is that a show, for example, such as American Idol, can make enough money to basically support the growth of shows that are critically acclaimed however struggle in the ratings. This is not a new concept in either film or cinema.
Think of it like this: why do major studios invest money in relatively low-budget films with little-to-no anticipated payoff? Well, that’s because the film industry although motivated by profit like any other industry, still sees the value in the art they produce for the sake of the art itself and they believe that every now and then, the quality of the art for art’s sake may just turn into gold. A prime example of this is Paranormal Activity which Paramount/Dreamworks picked up the rights to for $300,000. Why would a major studio throw $300,000 away on a low-budget ($15,000), genre film that had little-to-no chance of making them any money? Well, first, because Stephen Spielberg REALLLLLLY liked it and second (and probably more importantly), because between G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek, Paramount grossed $1.5 billion domestically at the box office in 2009 on just those three films. So what it comes down to is that studios can afford to take more risks when they have money makers like that. Of course, with Paranormal Activity, that risk paid off nicely, grossing $194 million globally. Not a bad bet for a lousy $300,000, eh?
The same principle applies to television and even FOX has actually had success with this principle when they’ve applied it but they’ve only attempted it once and that was with 24 and that was nearly a decade ago. They stuck with that show early on despite the fact that the ratings had slipped in the first season and they even used American Idol as the lead-in and it worked.
FOX simply has no foresight or vision when it comes to the potential value of good TV, despite slipping ratings and quite frankly they are missing a much bigger point and that is that due to their 20 year history of reckless programming decisions, generally speaking, audiences don’t want to give FOX a chance any more when it comes to scripted programming. Why would they bother to ever consider getting invested in a scripted show on FOX when it’s more than likely not going to last for any significant amount of time? It’s a vicious cycle. FOX cancels shows (or dumps them into Friday) because the ratings slide, the ratings slide because the audiences don’t have any faith that FOX won’t cancel their show.
Now, back to the big twist in the news this week regarding the moving of Fringe to Friday…
Last week a whole bunch of blogs and entertainment news sites a lot more reputable than The ‘Tastic all had basically the same thing to say about the move. To put it simply: they all contend that the move marked the beginning of the end for the series which certainly isn’t a stretch, particularly with FOX.
Well, the FOX execs didn’t like that too much so they came up with this little trailer that addresses (and quotes) the cynical (albeit realistic) commentary from the writers at Collider, Ain’t It Cool News, IGN, TV Overmind, and Fringe Bloggers who for some bizarre reason just don’t seem to have any faith in FOX’s support of this show.
How cute is that, right? We’re convinced. Aren’t you?
Entertainment Weekly, who apparently has no problem being a corporate shill for FOX and perpetuating B.S., did a nice little puff-piece where they quote FOX’s senior VP of marketing and special projects, Dean Norris, explaining what prompted the trailer:
We started getting feedback from the viewers that basically said, ‘How could Fox do something so cool for a show they’re going to kill?’ We started reading these things and said, ‘Wait! We have to address this!’” The mission was to produce a piece of communication that dealt with the situation in a self-deprecating fashion, yet also assuaged fan fears. The message, spelled out in the promo: “You May Think Friday Is Dead… But We’re Gonna Reanimate It.”
Well, that sounds great because after all if there is one thing FOX is good at it’s animation… and RE-animation for that matter (see: Family Guy).
Now, standby in 3… 2… 1… for the big lie:
The promo is the beginning of a larger effort by Fox to shore up Fringe’s existing fanbase and hopefully grow the audience by targeting teen viewers who might be at home Friday night… “We are trying to rebrand Friday, and what we’re trying to do with this show specifically is make it kind of like forbidden fruit,” says Norris. “We want that teen demographic that might not be our audience right now to say, ‘That this is a show my parents might not want me to watch — but I’m going to watch it, anyway.’”
…And this is exactly why we don’t trust FOX and neither should you. First, and foremost let’s just examine this entire quote, shall we?
Mr. Norris, please explain to us how FOX plans to “shore up” its existing fanbase by alienating it, yet again. The problem that we pointed out earlier is that it’s not even necessarily the fact that it’s on a Friday night… the problem is that it’s on FOX on a Friday night and their history with television shows – ESPECIALLY Sci Fi shows! – on that night.
Our first hint of skepticism regarding this sudden change of heart was in that dopey little promo itself. It’s the quote from Roco at Fringe Blogger that they cite:
This is indeed the night… others were cast out to die.
Anytime we see a quote cited and there is ellipsis in the middle of the quote, we always research the actual source to find out exactly what the quoter wanted to leave out in order to advance their agenda. Here’s the actual quote by Roco:
This is indeed the night the likes of Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly and others were cast out to die.
And there it is, folks; what FOX wants you to forget about. The fact is that not only has FOX been brutal to Sci Fi shows that they’ve abandoned to Friday night, they’ve also spun similar stories about support and similar clever promo campaigns that REALLY made people think they gave a crap. I refer you to the Dollhouse/Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles promos from spring of 2009.
Here’s our favorite… when Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku actually hosted the “Double Feature Friday” of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the series premiere of Dollhouse.
Three months later Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was canceled and six months after that Dollhouse was canceled. Obviously, this is an example of FOX fully supporting their friday night Sci Fi shows.
To add more salt into that particular wound and prove the point about the total lack of vision at FOX, in May of 2009 those two shows had identical audience numbers, but FOX, in their infinite wisdom and foresight, decided to cancel Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which had 11.4 million viewers during its first season before being dumped into Friday, was incredibly well-received by critics, had an established franchise brand-name and a built-in audience in favor of renewing the Joss Whedon mess called Dollhouse that had none of these attributes going for it. Once again, nice job, FOX.
We won’t even discuss what they did to one of the greatest and regrettably short-lived series of all time, Firefly (also a Joss Whedon show).
As for the last big lie in that quote… who are they kidding? Are we really supposed to believe that teenagers are going to stay in on a Friday night to watch a Sci Fi serial? Furthermore, the reality is that it’s nearly impossible to expand the base for a show like this.
We know exactly what they’re thinking or at least the premise that they are going for in trying to promote this big lie and that is that Fringe is like The X-Files (as it’s been compared to that hit series since it debuted) and that it can appeal to everyone on that level. Wrong. They aren’t the same show at all and the reason why it doesn’t work is that roughly 2/3 of the 202 episodes of The X-Files were standalone, “monster-of-the-week” type episodes that were literally disconnected from the main storyline arc of Mulder’s quest for the proof of alien abduction so he could find his sister.
Fringe’s main story arc is omnipresent in every single episode whether it’s integral to the story of that particular episode or not and as much as we love The X-Files, Fringe’s main arc is a helluva lot more complicated than The X-Files alien arc ever was. As a viewer, you cannot just jump into a show like Fringe halfway through its third season. It would be the equivalent of jumping into Lost halfway through the third season. You’d be lost and Norris must know this and if he doesn’t he’s completely incompetent.
So that’s what we’re left with. TPTB at FOX are either completely incompetent or completely dishonest and what’s ridiculous is how many other bloggers and various media outlets are falling for this sudden change of heart by FOX regarding their dedication to a Sci Fi show that they have parked on Friday night. Seriously, how dumb are they? This is “battered viewer syndrome” (…and I’m not going to explain that particular metaphor) if we’ve ever seen it. Do not trust FOX and their claims of unmitigated support for Fringe or any other show they move to Friday until they can be proven to be trustworthy. The first step in doing that would be for them to order the remaining episodes for this season and order an entire fourth season and promise to air all of the episodes. At this point, that would be the only way we would ever trust them and that’s not going to happen, so all we can do is hope for the best but plan for the worst which means expect Fringe to be canceled in May. Let’s just hope that they bring some closure to this great series.
And, by the way… we really hope we’re wrong but we doubt that we are.
In the past, Friday prime-time has been a notorious dumping ground for television shows that weren’t cancelled yet, but were on their last legs, at least for dramas. Low-cost news magazines like Dateline and 20/20 have always found success here and of course in the last decade there have been several reality shows that have thrived here, but it’s been pretty much a foregone conclusion that if a drama winds up here, it’s not long for this world and will soon be gracing us only in syndication (if it has had a long enough run) or in your queue on Netflix. Well, this season I’m noticing a trend of the networks taking the risk of putting new shows that they’ve invested in and some that are actually fantastic with money-making casts (see: Blue Bloods) on Friday. They are also doing something else: they are putting perennial solid veterans on Friday as well. Now, I may not like or watch all of these shows (so you’re not going to see all of them reviewed or previewed) but it really is quite a change of pace for Fridays to say the least.
The first example is (now) CBS’s Medium which has averaged 10 million per season the last six seasons. What’s notable about this is that not only did Medium move from Monday to Fridays between seasons 5 and 6, they also switched networks (from NBC to CBS) yet still only dropped from 8.5 million viewers to 7.8 million. It simply absurd that they kept 92% of their core audience while not only moving to Fridays but to a different network.
CSI: NY on Fridays is the biggest head scratcher of all. I hate the entire CSI franchise for a myriad of reasons that I’m not going to go into right now but there’s no denying its success. Of the three shows in the franchise, CSI: NY is the worst performing of all of them but that’s kind of like saying that Tony Lazzeri was the worst run producer of the 1927 Yankees‘ three best in the infamous “Murderers Row” lineup with Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig being the two best. Any team would have loved to have had the ’27 Lazzeri in their lineup just like any network would love to have CSI: NY in theirs. By the way, I hate the Yankees more than I hate the CSI franchise but again there’s no denying their success.
CSI: NY has consistently averaged 13.3 million viewers per week CONSISTENTLY for six seasons in the Wednesday night 10:00 p.m. slot which has typically been very competitive (although I must admit that with Leno on at 10:00 p.m. for a good portion of last season there wasn’t much of a challenge) and has been in the top 25 of all shows every season except one (it was #28 during the 2007 – 2008 season although it had the exact same number of viewers – 12.6 million – that it did last year when it was #23) going as high as #17 (2008 – 2009, 13.03 million). Now it did take a dive last year falling to #44 with the 18 – 49 crowd but still, nearly 13 million is nothing to sneeze at even if you did drop in the “coveted” demographic. Needless to say, CSI:NY is pretty much a sure-thing for CBS and they didn’t put it in the Friday night slot to cancel it. Sorry… not with 13 million viewers.
An honorable mention needs to go out to Supernatural (and to an extent Smallville) which has been The CW’s stallion (for what that’s worth) on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. for its first four seasons and that show is now on in the same slot on Fridays as well, but what REALLY caught my attention was not just all of the dramas on the major networks on Fridays but how Syfy has completely abandoned their original programming schedule on Friday nights that if I recall correctly, they’ve been going with for over a decade. SyFy’s two most popular shows – the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica and the franchise favorite Stargate: Universe – have been moved to Tuesday nights, premiering on October 5th. This is monumental and I haven’t seen anyone take note of this. SyFy owned Friday nights and one can only assume that this waving of the white flag was in response to the major networks actually paying attention to Friday nights again.
So why this big change in attitude towards Friday night prime-time? Historically, the reason why the Friday night line-up has been so mediocre is because viewers go out on Friday nights and don’t normally stay in to watch television… especially the “coveted” 18 – 49 demographic. Mind you, this is entirely speculative on my part but I have a theory: it’s the economy. More and more people are staying home for entertainment instead of going out in order to save money. When you’ve got unemployment at around 10% and 40% of the population who are worried that they might possibly lose their job within the next year, that’s certainly not a situation conducive to spending a bunch of money out at the club. People are saving more, spending less, paying off credit cards and when they are spending money on entertainment it’s on long-term appliances like HD TV’s and Blu Ray players, both of which have gone down dramatically in price this year.
So, there is no question that most of the networks now see value in Friday night but the question is: didn’t FOX get the memo?
You see, FOX bothers me to no end with their programming decisions. They are notorious for giving up too quickly on quality shows, not giving them a chance for audiences to grow and if they do throw an audience a bone and renew a show with borderline ratings, they stick it in Friday night to die. The decisions they make at FOX are mind-boggling and reactionary on a whole different level. Why these morons don’t understand that when you have the highest rated show of all time on three nights a week that it actually gives you latitude when it comes to relaxing a little bit when a drama doesn’t immediately perform as you hoped it would is far beyond my level of comprehension. Hell, put American Idol on every night and use it as a lead-in for every 9:00 p.m. show. It worked for 24! I will remind you that this is the same network that cancelled Family Guy. I will also remind you that this is the same network that cancelled perhaps the greatest Sci Fi series of all time, Firefly, after 11 stinkin’ episodes. Topless Robot has a great article that explains exactly how stupid the programming decisions at FOX have been.
And this is exactly the approach that FOX is going with for both Human Target and The Good Guys, both critically acclaimed shows that had marginal ratings when the aired last season. It’s not even remotely fair what they’re doing to The Good Guys even by FOX’s idiotic standards, premiering it on a Monday in the middle of May when all of the other shows are wrapping up, letting it run for nine episodes over the summer and then dumping it into Friday night because it didn’t catch fire fast enough for them. Human Target on the other hand is one of the best shows on TV, period and could very easily build a locked-in huge genre audience if FOX had the foresight to give it a chance like they did with 24 in 2001 which, by the way had the identical audience numbers that Human Target had during its first season.
Now, you might be saying, “Now, waitaminute, here… how do YOU know that FOX isn’t doing the same thing that the other networks are doing?” Nope, wrong. First, consider that we’re talking about FOX and we’ve already established what is common knowledge about their programming practices. Second, the other networks mentioned are putting up four strong veteran dramas with built-in audiences and three new shows that they have just sunk a bunch of money into in order to develop. You NEVER put a show with weak/mediocre numbers in a Friday slot if you want it to survive and have the audience grow. Hopefully, because of the other networks taking Friday night seriously for once, these two great shows can be successful despite the neglect from FOX. I doubt it, but I remain hopeful… because I really love Human Target.