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August 16 2006

When Story Arcs Lead to Cancellation. Scott Nance talks about how the final two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer resulted in the inability of the show to garner new viewers, the lack of stand alones, and how all shows should show a balance between story-arc and stand alone episodes.

"The result is that series ultimately became impenetrable for new viewers, the episodes themselves suffered with no space for other stories to be told, and Seasons 6 and 7 were arguably the weakest of the entire run. Season 7, particularly, has been widely criticized for way too much speechifying on the part of the title character."

Are there any shows that get new viewers in their final seasons? I'm struggling to think of any dramas that do. By the final stages any drama would be impenetrable to new viewers.
Buffy was cancelled?? I heard otherwise...
More of this blah blah blah.... Again?! I think I have to stop myself of reading this articles, cause I always end up with "Again" face and a bleh.

Buffy was cancelled?? I heard otherwise...


I think I heard that too....
The incredible amount of speechifying in season 7 is easily explained. Due to across-the-board budget cuts requiring pay -for-demonstrable-service, the writers were getting paid by the word.
That's also why Joss wrote Once More With Feeling.

Oh wait, that's a lie.
Law and Order


Maybe but then that's very much a stand alone episode series. Can you imagine someone trying to watch the likes of Lost, Battlestar Galactica or Veronica Mars for the first time when those shows are in their 6 or 7th season? Heads would be exploding, I tell ya.
I can see his point but for me the more acr-oriented a show is the better it is. I consider 5 to be the best season of BtVS in terms of tightness of arc and its execution, though I think the Angelus storyline of 2 remains the best arc overall. But imo, the standalones actually hurt 2, especially Go Fish, which weakended the momentum of the show.

And I also don't agree with his assessment of 6 and 7. I place 6 and 2 on equal footing in terms of quality, it's just that the best epis of 2 air in the latter half of the year and the best epis of 6 were in the first half of the season. If Buffy had been cancelled after Ted, I would have been left with the impression that the show never fully lived up to its potential.
Anyone on the fan boards long enough know that season 6 picked up a lot of new fans. Hence the endless chatter over which group is the 'better' fan. As for no great standalones in the later seasons? I'd be willing to put OMWF, TR, Storyteller or Selfless against IOHEFY anytime.
Oh wait, that's a lie.


Don't worry. I'll never tell.
I believe this may have once been a problem with arc based shows, but no longer. DVD sets of prior seasons are being released before the next season comes on, so new viewers can easily catch up. Shows like Lost and BSG do recap episodes to catch new viewers up to speed if they don't feel like watching through all the old episodes. There are even sometimes pay-to-download services like iTunes to catch episodes not out on DVD yet.

Times have changed, and I think they are far more accomodating to arc shows now. And the popularity of shows like Lost should prove something. Personally, I feel a show that continues to unravel an ongoing storyline is far more compelling viewing that will bring me back week after week and make me want to spend my money on a DVD set.

...Oh, and Buffy wasn't cancelled, it just ended. On it's own terms. 7 seasons seems a fairly typical (and good) run for a show. Now Angel on the other hand... (*cough*not to mention Firefly*cough*)
When you look at Buffy season 5, Dawn was introduced for obvious plot reasons, but also to hook younger viewers. The kids were growing up, out of high school, and that means you start to loose your original demographic a bit.

See also: Angel season 5. It moved much more towards less arc episodes, moved the locations, far less mythology, changed premise etc etc. Ratings? Went up about 25%. It hooked new viewers.

That said, by the time it got a few episodes in, that idea went out the window pretty much, you have to suspect..
* raises hand* I joined in season 6 and was hooked ! It's still my favourite season . I did go back and watch seasons 1-5. I also loved season 7 .
See also: Angel season 5. It moved much more towards less arc episodes, moved the locations, far less mythology, changed premise etc etc. Ratings? Went up about 25%. It hooked new viewers.


So it getting renewed for a sixth season was unquestionable, right? Right? *crickets chirp*
Hah. It getting renewed was in the hands of the idiots gods. Or network execs. Also known as idiots. Or an exec.

My surname is Bitter. Also a lie.
Well here we go again...since when was Buffy cancelled??? As for seasons 6, and 7...I LOVED THEM, and I would have a hard time believing that they didn't pick up new fans.
Most shows are lucky to last as long as Buffy did...now Angel...it went before it's time...but then lets just not go there right now.

I personally prefer the arc format. A few stand alones are ok, but I always feel like they have very little value to the overall story...but then thats MHO.
I've read conflicting reports about the ratings for Angel season 5. There seems be one school of thought that the ratings did improve at the beginning of the season but then went back to their usual level.
In addition to the DVDs and "pay for download" options that AnotherFireflyfan mentioned, networks are starting to put previous episodes up on the web for free download. ABC is probably the most prominent of these, but USA (for example) has started doing it as well. You can download the pilot of Psych for free here, and I'm sure it is the same with other shows as well.

When I saw how many serials were greenlighted (greenlit?) for this season, I got a little worried that it would backfire, causing the networks to swing in the other direction. If too many shows fail and are canceled prematurely, people will be wary of starting to watch a serialized show, thinking that maybe it will be cancelled without resolution. Think of the people who invested time in Reunion (I'm still waiting to see the end of Heist). I actually held off watching Prison Break until I found out that it wasn't going to be cancelled.

The networks will have to make it really easy for new users catch up to the story, and one of the ways to do that is to offer free downloads of the previous shows. Also, one of the network heads (I can't remember which one), said in an interview that they will try and give the writers a chance to resolve cancelled shows, and that may help.
And I hated 6 and 7, and let's not go there, okay? Let's deal with the issues he raises, which is that if you are not careful, an arc-based series has certain inherent difficulties, ie, drawing in new viewers, potential to end before all the story lines are tied up. I don't think any of us will argue those two points?
The entire premise of this article is suspect due to the author's use of BtVS as an example of a series being cancelled due to 'whatever'. BtVS was not cancelled. If the author can't be bothered to research his subject suficiently enough to make even a broad statement correctly, how can the reader be expected to believe anything else he has to say?
[I Only Have Eyes For You is] a great episode precisely because itís a stand-alone that nonetheless fits well into the overall arc.

That's an interesting insight. Some of the best episodes were, in fact, a blend of stand-alone and arc: Hush, OMWF, The Body. But really, it's not so much whether an episode appealed to both loyal fans and newcomers but whether the episode was any good, period.

[ edited by 1starbuckstown on 2006-08-16 20:22 ]
While some did start watching in season 6, many more tuned out. IT was just to dark for many of it's loyal base. And it was very hard to bring in fans of the overall show at this late date. Not to mention the channel. Season 6 was sampled more then watched clean through like 5 or 3. You would turn it on for one ep and then catch one few weeks later.

Seven did that also. My opinion with seven was that there was that stretch in the middle that it seemed like the same ep was playing over and over. Nothing happened, except the speeches. You did not miss much and the loopholes got too big.

Angel's ratings for season 5, at the beginning were at season 3 levels. Then after Destiny they sunk hard and fast to the level of season 4. Even the 100th ep barely budged it. A link to Sunnydale in Damaged brought them up and then they sank again, only to rise briefly for the Fred/Illyria arches and the home stretch. Angel 4th was it lowest rated barely followed by 5.Something unfortunatly Buffy never did, she sank all the way to the finale ep. Buffy's lowest were 6 followed by 7. I think we all forget there is a much larger base that is not on the internet, so online fandom chatter becomes irrevelvant when compared to hard numbers for FOX.

Buffy was harder to get into. Her story was set. The charactrs weaved through each other in such ways that going back to go forwrd would only confuse you. Angel literlly started over with the W&H arch. Not only that it became more of murder/death /kill show with a little love and less of the soap opera it had become over the last seasons.

Season two may have had some klunkers(inca mummy girl, bad eggs) but it had many stand alones that weere very important to the over all arch of the Buffy character herself. Such as Ted(her issue with killing a human) or IOHEFY. I liked Go Fish because it showed What Angelus would do to get to Buffy and how she was wearing down.

Three and Five had the least loopholes or bad eps. They were as close to as you can come to perfect seasons. Though both did have eps that were spaced so far apart that you felt like you had missed something at times. For example, when one minute Buffy is saying she will do anything to help Faith and then in the next ep Faith is getting the old shoulder from her again....

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-16 21:04 ]
"That's an interesting insight. Some of the best episodes were, in fact, a blend of stand-alone and arc: Hush, OMWF, The Body. But really, it's not so much whether an episode appealed to both loyal fans and newcomers but whether the episode was any good, period."

For us? Yeah thats true. But unfortunately, it doesnt matter if an episode is good, what matters is ratings because the networks have all the power. In that sense, Im not sure if stand-alone episodes are what make new viewers possible (because I became a fan in season 6--and now thats one of my least favorite seasons believe it or not), but really, the problem with season long arcs is that its hard to catch up. And the bottom line, like it or not, is gaining ratings to the point that the show is profitable. I have no doubt that if Angel had ticked up significantly in the final season, it would have been continued on the WB.

Now, the part of his argument that I be more willing to buy is the idea that stand-alone episodes can be great, and that the abscence of those episodes can hurt the over-all arc of the season by slowing it down. For example, 24 works for many people because it never stops, there is no stand alone episode on 24, the arc continually flows from the first episode to the last, and in that sense, stand-alone episodes dont guarantee new viewers. They do, however, provide breaks for creativity (what would we do without The Wish or Dopplegangland for instance), and allow the over all arc of the season to develop. Whats interesting is the idea that the abscence of SA episodes can hurt the overall arc of the season--because I think in the last few years of the show, Buffy became like 24, in that, the abscence of SA episodes placed all the focus on the main story. But because (to some people--not to me, I dont like 24, Im just using it as an example) the story of 24 is so solid and interesting, they buy into the idea of an overall season commitment. With Buffy, however, the switch to season long story arcs (in season 5) was not what some fans were used too (Angelus didnt start until Innocence, Faith didnt turn bad until Consequence, and Adam wasnt revealed until the middle of season 4), and in that sense, the lack of SA tended to slow down the arc (so that the arc could be drawn out over an entire season) to many people. Its all a matter of perspective really. Im not sure Nance is right about all of it, and I have no idea what he means about Buffy's speeches in season 7 (cause that doesnt have alot to do with his argument other than seemingly to reveal why he didnt like season 7--the only connection I can think of is the idea that Buffy's speeches slowed down the season long arc like SA--but I dont think thats what he means) but I dont think he is completely wrong.
Look at Alias. It's arches finally got to much for this once well crafted and well acted show. It went around and around, redoing it's mytholgy and making it in such a way that only the most loyal fans could even catch a clue.It also did a restart with Sid being gone for two years and that was the only place a new fan could have jumped on.


Though to this day I still have no idea what Sid's involvment with the Rimbaldie(sp) thing was or what that big sun/moon was for......

I think this article has some very valid points. Obviously, since it is always mentioned in the press core, they must be assumed Buffy was cancelled. It is not just one journalist saying this but almost every article talking about the later seasons.

What is a stand alone anyway? Because I would never call either the Body or OMWF a stand alone. Both were key points to the arches and stories being told. Thier bad guys may have not been the overall arch one, but especailly in OMWF it set the tone for the rest of the season. And revealed many secrets. The Body also ended a very key point in one of the overall season 5 arches . Hush deffinatly. I am not so sure about Selfless because it was also an ongoing arch that started from the earlier seasons and was made more valid because of Spike's story.

[ edited by Donna Troy on 2006-08-16 21:24 ]
I would go with ER or Law and Order as shows that you can basically start watching at any time without really needing to know anything else. Maybe the CSI's/Without a Trace type shows too, but I have never seen an episode of them so I can't speak from experience.

Of course these are all examples of shows I don't watch and have no interest in because it focuses too much on the formula of the show, and I like to see strong well developed characters.

On a side note, I started watching Buffy during Season 4 (the first episode), I picked everything up just fine. Didn't see the earlier episodes until they started airing on FX.

[ edited by Odysseus on 2006-08-16 21:19 ]
I was one of those people who got into Season 6 Buffy first. I had seen a handful of episodes before that from random seasons and liked it, but never got hooked. I tuned in to watch OMWF, because I had heard so much buzz about it, curiosity got the best of me. I was hooked from that episode on, and it was quite easy for me to get into the story arc after that. Season 6 had a lot of stand-alones (OMWF, TR, Gone, Doublemeat Palace, Life Serial among others) which made it very easy to get into the story arcs.

While I was getting into S6, I bought the DVDs from previous seasons. Of course they made me appreciate S6 even more. I didn't always care for the freak-of-the-week episodes, but even bad Buffy was usually better than most good any other show.

My youngest kids don't really care for shows with self-contained episodes and no overall story arc. They're 13 and have been watching Buffy (and Angel and Firefly) since they were 8. They've come to love the serial format. It gives them more to think about, and more to analyze. They love making the connections between events in the series. We also watch series like Monk, which they like, but they've admitted the show can become monotonous without an over-arching story.

Most people, though, are ADD viewers. They have short attention spans and lose patience with not having a story end neatly within an hour. Some of their issues are realistic. It's very difficult to keep up with a serial show if you have work schedules and other commitments that don't allow you to watch TV by appointment. Yes, there's Tivo and VCRs to record missed shows, but how many people have had some sort of technical snafu with their machine that made them miss half a crucial episode or more? I've missed crucial season finales because the timer got reset, or a power surge wiped everything out, or an unknowing son turned it off without realizing it. So some people figure it's just not worth getting into it. It's why I stopped watching "24" after the first season. Still, there are a lot of people who can't handle more than a MOTW-type series, because their comprehension is limited. That's OK, and it's great that there are shows they can get into. It still doesn't help those of us who need more involving entertainment.

It is also very difficult to get into a show that has already started and requires knowledge of previous episodes. I could not get into "Arrested Development" because I didn't even know it was on until it was half over. I tried to watch it, because I had heard such great things about it, but I could not get into it. Fortunately, I had a student who insisted on lending me his Season 1 DVD set. I loved it, then bought my own sets (S1 & 2) and am anxiously awaiting S3.

It seems that programming executives still haven't mastered how to use DVD sets to their advantage - to build up audiences for critically acclaimed shows that are struggling because of their seriality. It also doesn't help that they characteristically set great shows up for failure by pitting them against shows on other networks that the same audience is likely to watch. I think THAT has more to do with genre series failures than their serialism.
I was one of those people that got into Buffy towards the end of season three. Right around the time Faith went evil. I specifically remember when she calls the mayor Sugar Daddy after renting her out an apartment, I took it literally. Because I was 9. Now, obviously I understand it.

Oh, and Simon, I have to say that is the one reason I haven't gotten into Battlestar Galactica or The 4400. I don't like not knowing what's going on. Could be the reason why I avoid Lost. Someone showed me an episode where this guy gets eaten by a black smog thing, and that just put me off for some reason. As for TV on DVD to get hooked to a show, that doesn't really work for me. Living in Canada we can't on a whim buy the pilot for $2 on iTunes, so we have to spend our $100 (Well, HBO shows are $100, other shows are normally $75) on something we might not even like. Renting DVDs? No such luck. Blockbuster costs about $6 to rent a DVD, that only contains four episodes. I haven't explored other options, but I know that I won't resort to internet bootlegs because I think they are immoral.
I think it's useful to draw a distinction between the factors that attract newcomers to a show and the factors that convert viewers into loyal fans. To attract viewers, two factors are key: talent and attention. One or both of these figure into the reasons new viewers bother to check out a show. They like the talent (the actors, the writers), they want to see what people -- the press, the critics, their roommates, their coworkers, whoever--are talking about, or both. What keeps viewers coming back to a show is quality. If you like the characters or the stories or the themes or the writing -- or all of the above -- enough, you will try your luck on another episode. Even if a show is deeply mired in its own mythology or arc -- which I don't think Buffy ever was -- you will stick with it if most episodes make good on the promise to entertain you for an hour.
I rented most of the DVDs for Alias, Arrested Development (S2), Six Feet Under, and other series for free at Blockbuster. I basically end up accumulating free rentals (and rarely pay for any), so I usually use them to catch up on series I am curious about. I bought the DVDs for AD later, because other members of my rather large family wanted to see it.
Brisco, you can sign up for something like Zip.ca, which is basically the NetFlix of Canada, and rent a lot of DVDs that you get in the mail for relatively cheap. That's proven to be the most cost-efficient way for me to catch up on TV-on-DVD, or even if you're just a movie nut in general. I usually don't want to buy or don't have enough money to get every series I'm curious about, and Blockbuster and the like don't offer every TV series imaginable for rent, but Zip.ca has everything.
I think the only type of shows that will be able to gain new viewers in their later years as procedurals, Simon, like Law and Order, ER, CSI, Without a Trace. Usually the focus is on whatever profession is being carried out and the writers barely concern themselves with such trivia as character development. Okay, that's a gross exaggeration, but with CSI I definitely noticed that, the same is true of Without A Trace and ER has been like that for several years.

It's very easy for people to watch these shows if they haven't seen them before. There is usually an illness or death or legal case to investigate and it is usually resolved within the episode. You can easily work out what's going on and you don't really need to know much about the characters.

As to Buffy and Angel, I think that in an ideal world, where you don't have to consider ratings, it's nice to have the best of both worlds. By this I mean seasons that are almost completely standalone, with only the slimmest of arcs holding everything together, like the first seasons of both shows. Season four of Angel was the complete opposite, incredibly connected and requiring a lot of attention, which was very rewarding for viewers who were following from the start. And then you have the kind of season that does have several main plot points but can still take time out to do a more standalone episodes.

But of course, there is the issue of ratings. With the totally standalone series, you make it very easy to draw in new viewers, but it's unlikely that you will develop a fanbase as loyal and invested as you might get with an arc-tastic series. But of course this type of series is very difficult for new viewers to understand or get into (although I don't think 24 would be too hard to understand if you jumped in mid-season).

I generally think Buffy and Angel both worked best when they combined standalone episodes with a general story arc and themes for the season. Seasons two, three and five of Buffy and seasons two and three of Angel were good examples. But I also think going out on a limb and producing a really arc intensive season like season four of Angel can really pay off creatively. Even the most devoted of fans might not want every season to be so demanding, but it did work on that occasion.

I don't think Buffy declined at all in it's final two years. I think it would have been natural for ratings to be fairly constant, because any arc-based show that had been on for five years would of course have developed a lot of backstory and characters that it might be hard to understand, unless of course it is a procedural show. I predict the same will be true of the likes of Lost if they do last as long as expected.

Season six was very different in tone, but it wasn't any more arc intensive than previous years. If anything, it was less so in some respects, because there wasn't really a strong Big Bad and Giles' absence gave it a slightly more directionless feeling, just like the characters became lost. But that didn't mean it was inferior in any way, just different. In my opinion, at least, season six was still very strong although the dark, demanding storylines were unlikely to draw in new viewers in droves. Do I care? No. Joss had to do what was creatively fulfilling.

Season seven was more arc intensive, but I still felt that it was fairly accessible. It got off to a good start with a season one standalone kind of feel, but there was still a fairly strong arc running through the whole season, but there was still time for episodes like "Selfess" and "Storyteller". And of course any show in it's final season should devote itself to satisfying it's fans and providing a satisfying conclusion rather than just trying to rope in new viewers.

I think season five of Angel was just essentially designed to be different from season four. It's natural that after such an intense, lengthy story arc that the show should take itself in a different direction and not repeat itself, in keeping with Angel Investigations setting up home at Wolfram & Hart. They also knew they needed to improve the ratings, so more standalone episodes was a natural way of fulfilling both requirements.
Hey guys, no where in the article does the author mention that Buffy was cancelled. He was just talking about the pro's and con's of serialization versus stand alone episodes in the wake of Invasion being cancelled. Buffy is not used as an example of a series being cancelled but of serialization being done well and poorly (in his opinion).

Also I second Kris' recommendation of Zip.ca, the sort of Canadian version of Netflick. I pretty much hardly watch any broadcasted tv (to the point where I cancelled my cable subscription) and pretty just watch tv shows and movies on DVD's via Zip.
My feelings about Angel Anno Five went something like this: A new gunslinger rides into town, tells Joss to "Dance, boy!" Joss does the dance, with a smaller budget, more stand-alone episodes, pretty much everything he was told to do, and he does it well. I would say surprisingly well, but it's never a surprise when he does the impossible.

Then he gets shot anyway.

Sorry. Still bitter about the cancellation there.
Thank you for the recommendation of Zip.ca . I was thinking about a Netflix-type service, but I once read an article about a man who would rent TV shows, which you can watch a disc pretty fast, and he would return them so often that they put him on a special list where he would only recieve about one DVD a month because he was a "heavy-viewer" or something. So that would be my one con about a mail-in service. But I will for sure look into it. Hopefully I'll be able to get hooked onto shows before they bite the dust.
I also started watching Buffy in Season 6, having seen episodes here and there as I taped them for my sister who couldn't get them in the States ocassionally. Luckily for me, the earlier eps were running on the Space station so I got caught up very quickly.
I was an adult and by Season 6, so were the characters. I was willing to invest the time to get to know them and find out their history.
Thank you for the recommendation of Zip.ca . I was thinking about a Netflix-type service, but I once read an article about a man who would rent TV shows, which you can watch a disc pretty fast, and he would return them so often that they put him on a special list where he would only recieve about one DVD a month because he was a "heavy-viewer" or something. So that would be my one con about a mail-in service. But I will for sure look into it. Hopefully I'll be able to get hooked onto shows before they bite the dust.

For Zip.ca on certain packages there's monthly limits, where if you go over it then you have to pay extra for each DVD. However, there are also packages that have an unlimited amount of DVD's, it's all a matter of what your viewing habits are like. As long as you get close to the monthly limit of your package it's still a lot cheaper than renting DVD's from your video store.
Seven gets better every time I watch it. It reminds me of season four in this regard because, imo, both years improve with age, and their big weakness is the execution of the arc (not the arc themselves, which I thought were very interesting and added a lot to our understanding of Buffy's character).

Even though I enjoyed four a lot when it first aired, I didn't appreciate its charms fully until several viewings. Now it's one of the seasons I watch the most.
Simon - Angel's ratings over the course of season 5 did decline. I imagine the biggest issue for the WB was that it was the second lowest rated hour long they had on the air. The only show with a lower overall average rating was One Tree Hill,then in it's first season. However, One Tree Hill's audience was growing over the season while Angel's was shrinking. I wish the WB had picked up the show for a sixth season but I can understand the decesion from a business point of view.

The link below is the best if you want to compare Buffy/Angel Neilsen ratings.

http://home.insightbb.com/~wahoskem/

[ edited by Unitas on 2006-08-17 04:25 ]
The reason fans left season 6th of Buffy was because Buffy wasn't a likable chararacter anymore. Neither was Willow. Xander and Anya were either stupidly fighting over the wedding or doing nothing but looking at wedding books. Giles left. Dawn screamed a lot. Spike was a decent bloke but he was a vampire with out a soul and it wasn't explained decently enough yet how that was even possible. The lost of the myth pissed fans off. New fans came who enjoyed the Spike storyline and didn't really regret the lost/(change) of the myth. Spike became the leading male in the six season and that split the fandom.Oh yeah Tara was murdered too. Change is what happened to season 6th. Darkness isn't an issue with Buffy/Angel fans. I hate when that world is used as reason why fans left/felt disgruntleed with the show.

Season 7 of Buffy plays better on video because you don't have the long wait for look/feel alike episodes. It feels more organic and it captures the boxed in feeling the Gang experienced, I mean when you can watch it with out the breaks.

Season 6th got new viewers but lost some of the old. I don't think season 7 got new viewers but that was because there was so many characters and the character series arcs was at issue. Plus the slayer myth was being delt with. That was the season arc.The show came to a good television end. Although watching it as it air the season seemed boring, as I said earlier, it improves on video. IMO of course.
Will be interesting to see how TV develops in the future, in my book the only shows that are appointment tv are arc heavy, the ones where you really want to know what happens next, the procedurals are 'filler tv', the things you find when you zap around and there is nothing better on, YMMV of course.

I believe that what some of the posters above refers to as changes in how they rate the different Buffy seasons are at least partially due to the DVD effect, watching a show once a week as broadcast or in a longer stretch on a DVD is quite different experiences and can alter the perception of a season or a show (beckyboo typed faster :).

For the networks finding the right balance between arc heavy and 'filler' both within shows and between shows is probably going to be an on-going battle, but the cable companies caring less about casual viewers and more about the 'magnet' shows that make people pay up for a cable subscription, can focus on the arc shows since they have the double effect of luring viewers to appointment tv and selling well on DVD.
And ya know what's really different between watching the shows on TV and watching them on DVD? There's no freakin' commercials. I wish to God I'd originally seen Buffy and Angel and Firefly without commercial interruption. But there's no changing the past, at least as technology currently stands.

That's what I've done with Veronica Mars. After losing patience with the first season commercials, we bought Season 1 on DVD, and we're doing the same with Season 2, which we patiently await. And if anyone tries to say anything about VM in the interim, we put our hands over our ears and sing really loudly, "La-la-la, we can't hear you!"
People keep saying Buffy lost viewers at season 6... but did it? What were the ratings like?

When you look at Angel, it did best during it's early years, and when it retooled at the beginning of season 5.

What's the relationship to that? Timothy Minear. He show ran it seasons 1-3 (3 being it's most successful, with Tim's Darla pregancy arc) - and retooled it at the very end of season 4 for season 5's setup. He then left for Wonderfalls.

Of course, I'm not saying the other writers weren't successful, but when you look at the episodes Tim was involved in, they were fairly story heavy - Darla's the 90 year ago ex girlfriend f'ck buddy, yo - but they did well. It was great, great drama that attracted people.
QuoterGal, you better hope that not a lot of Nielsen viewers follow your example, cause then cancellation, the tears, the complaints about the stupid networks and the campaigns etc etc.
Nielsen viewers must watch the commercials or its all for nothing, in the US that is, in Swe we watch VM commercial free, but then we also dont have the resources to do much good TV of our own and have to buy it from Hollywood :).

[ edited by jpr on 2006-08-17 11:25 ]
Well after a quick flick at the link Unitas handily provided, there does seem to be a small difference in the ratings of seasons 5 and 6.

However, and this is a big however, there's a tendency (be it deliberate or unintentional) to ignore the fact that UPN had less national coverage than the WB. I remember reading many posts by Buffy fans who were very upset that their local area did not have a UPN affliate station and as a result could not watch the show.
I wish to God I'd originally seen Buffy and Angel and Firefly without commercial interruption

Three cheers for the BBC, hip-hip etc. ;). Neither Angel nor Firefly were shown on the Beeb and I ended up videoing them so I could fast-forward through the adverts (even if I was in when they were broadcast). That said, some Buffy episodes were pretty badly cut (three boos for the BBC) since they were shown at 6:45 pm (i.e. pre-watershed) though in the later seasons they'd also screen them uncut at around 1 am a day or two later.

Personally I can't really imagine starting to watch an arc heavy show from the 6th season onwards. I'd probably wait until either the whole show was repeated or all the seasons were available on DVD since I wouldn't like the feeling that I was missing the little nods and connections that really enrich arcy shows (even slightly arcy/heavily standalone shows like the Stargates benefit from the weight of resonance that only years spent with the characters can bring, IMO).
"The reason fans left season 6th of Buffy was because Buffy wasn't a likable chararacter anymore. Neither was Willow. Xander and Anya were either stupidly fighting over the wedding or doing nothing but looking at wedding books. Giles left. Dawn screamed a lot. Spike was a decent bloke but he was a vampire with out a soul and it wasn't explained decently enough yet how that was even possible. The lost of the myth pissed fans off. New fans came who enjoyed the Spike storyline and didn't really regret the lost/(change) of the myth. Spike became the leading male in the six season and that split the fandom.Oh yeah Tara was murdered too. Change is what happened to season 6th. Darkness isn't an issue with Buffy/Angel fans. I hate when that world is used as reason why fans left/felt disgruntleed with the show".

I've watched the show from the beginning and loved the last two seasons just as much as the first couple of years. I also loved Willow and Buffy just as much as ever, if not more. I do admit I lost my fondness for Xander in 6 but completely regained my love for him in 7.

I'm definitely not one of the newbies or disgruntled fans. Count me as one of the happy campers in Jossverse when it comes to Buffy.
Simon - Thanks for metioning the link.

I wanted to add to my post above that the ratings info on other WB shows isn't at that link. My findings about Angel's weak ratings in comparison to other WB shows was some research I did at the time of Angel's cancellation using (if I remember correctly) the Zap2it.com ratings page. Just to clarify in case anyone cared.

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