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March 08 2004

The Downward Trend in Genre TV. Veteran television producers and executives explain why shows like Angel are being forced off the air (well worth reading).

I'm not fond of posting articles where you have to register but in this case it's worth it. Especially for this quote from the head of UPN.

""I think that there aren't too many genre shows that are as broad-based as some reality shows," says Ostroff, who wouldn't comment on the renewal chances of "Enterprise" or on the prospect of UPN reviving the WB's canceled vampire drama, "Angel.""

Edit: Found link that doesn't require you to register.

Dismal. Absolutely dismal. I can't stand "reality" tv. I have not, nor will I ever, sit down to watch that junk. It's like paying people to display their idiocy and to see how low they can go. If it weren't for shows like Buffy, Angel, (the prospect of) Wonderfalls and/or channels like TLC and Discovery, I would have thrown out my tv long ago.
cubiclesatan, I hear you. I despise "reality" tv so much my bones ache. Worst development in the history of television.
Hey phlebotinin (or anyone) - has the "Littlest Groom" show tanked? I remember a bunch of people here were groaning about it. I haven't heard anything about it lately. Heh. Apparently there *are* limits to what even the stupidest people can be expected to watch for reality tv.
When I seen the promotional ads for "Littlest Groom", I knew at that moment that television was indeed doomed. I'm sorry, but anyone who watches that shit...has the IQ equivalent of my pinky fingernail!
cubiclesatan -- I don't know if "Littlest Groom" tanked because I haven't been able to bear following the fortunes of "reality" tv shows. I turn a blind eye because I cynically assume that they'll do well, or if they don't, that something more horrible will replace them.

That being said, I would be most pleased to hear that "Littlest Groom" tanked. I'd cackle with joy, even. Anyone out there know?

I've never been a watcher of NBC's long-running "Must-See TV" lineup of scripted shows on Thursday nights, but I was HORRIFIED when reality tv in the form of that stupid show revolving around that ridiculous cotton candy-haired ass, Donald Trump, gained a foothold. It seemed the beginning of the End.
Nice article. As for "The Littlest Groom", the reason we haven't heard much about it (not that we're complaining, of course) is FOX planned the "series" to be only two episodes long, with premiere one week and a finale the the next week. A plan which actually sounds very similar to the one FOX evidently had for "Firefly".

But if it's any consolation, "The Littlest Groom's" ratings were just as small as...aw, forget it.
I'm sitting here trying not to bust a gut over "The Littlest Groom's" ratings were just as small as... comment. Evil.

Oh, and Phlebotinin, don't you mean The End. Capital "T", Capital "E". Man, where's a Slayer when you need one. Surely, Trump et al are demons in (thin) disguise.

[ edited by cubiclesatan on 2004-03-08 17:34 ]
Yes, cubiclesatan, in my rage stimulated by contemplating Trump and Little Grooms, I mistyped. It should have read "The End."

Trump et al are most certainly demons. In today's world, disguise is unnecessary. Hence Trump's hair, which screams "demonic."
phlebotinin-- Thank you for solving the mystery of "The Donald's" hair. It's evil! Why didn't I see it before? I wonder if the little furball is a demonic parasite, appendage, or is hiding something even freakier, like the Wig Lady in the Doublemeat Palace episode of "Buffy".
Great article, thanks Simon. Well-written: Many sci-fi, horror and fantasy shows have complex, ongoing story arcs, which fans love but which make network executives break out in hives.
Dawn Ostroff really pisses me off. She talks about the networks as if she's just some innocent bystander.
bloodflowers -- my theory about that preposterous whipped confection of airy hairyness you call the "furball" which sits atop The Donald's head? It masks multiple waving tentacles, each with their own set of razor-sharp teeth.

Yes, great, thought -provoking article. Dawn Ostroff is indeed part of the problem. Stupid, cultureless woman.
In January, Dawn Ostroff and Leslie Moonves (CBS chairman who oversees UPN) announced to reporters how UPN was developing another "reality" show based around the Amish rite of passage "rumspringa" (Amish teens have modern world experiences before almost all return to the faith). Pennsylvania Dutch tourism and representatives for the Amish have protested. Lawmakers including Pennsylvania US senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum sent a letter to Moonves and the chief operating officer of Viacom stating "We know of no other reality series that singles out the beliefs and practices of a specific group of people as a subject of humor. For almost three centuries, the Amish lived the way they do out of Christian piety and conviction, not out of ignorance. If by producing this show, you fail to respect that, you will be opening yourselves to charges of bigotry."
But still the plan for "Hey, let's poke fun at Mr No-Buttons"(actually the proposed title is "Amish in the City") marches on. To UPN the Amish seem to be just another untapped source for ridicule. Ostroff and especially Moonves seem to be under the impression that the Amish are subterranean cave dwelling innocents. It's true they don't have televisions, which makes it impossible for them to watch UPN's sorry excuse for programming and entertainment. That sounds pretty smart to me.

phlebotinin-- The unseen horror that the "airy hairyness" (hee hee) conceals gave me such an image as to make me want to poke out my mind's eye.
"Santorum" *hee hee*
Interesting article, but pretty depressing. Sounds like a lot of the best writer/producers for scripted drama will be squeezed out of the field to make way for gimmicky, quick fix crap like The Littlest Groom and America's Top Model. The end of an era.
Hey thanks for that info bloodflowers. I'm in the area and am politically involved but somehow was unaware of this. Funny what you learn on this board!

prufrock--I take you're a Dan Savage reader? *hee hee* indeed!
Hey Stakeholder...I'm in the area also...and have not heard of it...if it's true...another low for tv and tv execs.
Sweet fancy Moses, is that Amish monstrosity still going ahead? I thought it had died. Truly we have entered an Era of Televisual Doom. It's in favor of trash like this that UPN passed on Angel?

I wonder if all this means that there's really no chance that "Firefly" might be recusitated as a series if it is successful as a movie. Many Firefly fans are assuming a return to the small screen is possible.....something to do with a rumor (?) announcement (?) that Joss was instructed to revise the movie script to serve as a launching pad for a new series. Anyone know more about that?

bloodflowers -- poke not out your mind's eye! It is the source of too much stress-relieving hilarity and insulty goodness on this board.
Good article.

BTW, I seem to recall "The Littlest Groom" actually getting really good ratings.
stakeholder and Coll-- I am close enough to the area for it to get coverage on the local news and newspaper. Spooky.
phlebotinin-- The mind's eyes/ayes have it. Why does that sound like a bad joke made by a pirate?
Great article, and from the company that owns the WB too. Desention in the ranks is, in this case, a good thing, I think.

(edited for poor spelling)

[ edited by RootBoy42 on 2004-03-08 20:00 ]
"BTW, I seem to recall "The Littlest Groom" actually getting really good ratings.

Here's the article where I got the info regarding those particular ratings (I don't know how to link in the comments):

http://www.realitytvworld.com/index/articles/story.php?s=2266

On the other hand, FOX's "My Big, Fat, Obnoxious Fiance" had a depressingly big, fat, obnoxious audience. Go figure.
lol...bloodflowers...my news comes out of Harrisburg and Lancaster...but I never watch local news. I'm addicted to FoxNews Channel. So I've missed all the info on this potential Amish series. I cannot believe that they are going to do this. Don't they understand that it is "JUST WRONG". "IT'S WRONG". "BECAUSE IT'S WRONG"!!!!!
7.5 million is still, unfortunately, more than Angel's average. Why on earth anyone would rather watch a dwarf version of "The Bachelor" is beyond me. Nothing against dwarves, but I guess people's inherent desire to watch the public humiliation of people they don't know is much greater than I originally thought. As much as I hate reality television, I must admit to watching an episode or two here and there. It was kind of like slowing down to watch a horrific accident on the side of the road, as much as you want to, and know you should, you can't look away.
What I want to know is: whence will come the "indie" movement for tv like the one that saved the film industry (artistically speaking). And what will be the mechanics?

Speaking of pirates, I read an interesting book review yesterday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a radio pirate who, sick of "corporate radio" started doing it for herself (till she got shut down by The Man). Really loved the last paragraph:
"Despite the inevitably sad ending, '40 Watts from Nowhere' is a fun page-turner brimming with anti-establishment bravado and DIY derring-do. Besides, it beats listening to the radio." Or watching TV, one might add (and I think I just did).

So again, how will we save television? Part of the problem (as with radio) is that we as consumers don't directly pay for the programming. TANSTaaFL*. Cable helps but we still only pay indirectly and so still have only indirect influence. And DVRs are only making it worse (love that TiVo!!). Got to find a new model.

I'm thinking the direct-to-DVD movement has potential. How can we help it reach critical mass?

*There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

[ edited by melsta on 2004-03-08 20:10 ]
Coll-- I first read about this in the newspaper and just happened to see it on the local news, because I don't watch the local news either. I get most of my info from National Public Radio, which can act as good work out for the all-important mind's eye. I agree it's plain and simple a bad idea "because it's WRONG!"
That's disgusting about the Amish "reality" show. That makes me feel so bad. Man, half the time I'm thinking the Amish aren't missing much by being unmodern . . . except stress, stupidity, more stress...I think I'm half convincing myself to go Amish here.

Everything else has its own channel on Cable. Why can't there just be a stinking "reality" channel so all the schmuck can go there and leave the rest of us semi-educated with our genre tv?!

Like your post Melsta. "40 Watts from Nowhere" Hee. Raises some fond memories of my college dj-ing days. ClearChannel Communications is the ANTI-CHRIST!! Evil corporate freaks!
As much as I hate reality television, I must admit to watching an episode or two here and there.

Well, while we're coming clean and all... while I totally hate the trend of reality TV, and what it's doing to the TV landscape, I've been known to stay tuned to the "Survivors" and the "Amazing Races". Which is to say, I'm not against Reality TV on principle. As with any other genre (besides procedural drama, which just bores me), if you're going to do it right, then I'm open to it. And these two are examples (to me at least) of "doing it right"--not tacky, not gimmicky, not taking advantage of an audience that they know they'd have even if they slacked off.

It's just too bad that the networks can't help getting greedy.
Melsta is onto something here. We don't directly pay for programming so we have little influence. It doesn't hurt to write a network, or even the cable company about programming.
Still, I think it may be time to start an indie type channel or something akin to PBS where subscribers directly pay for the shows they watch. On PBS funding drives are held during the program. What better way to influence programming. In order to best protect against another channel of the usual fare, control, by direct dollars, by direct subscription is necessary
Viva NPR! That's my personal addiction. bloodflowers is right, it's the stairmaster for the mind's eye. (Mix metaphors much?) Oh, and stakeholder, Dan Savage is darn funny.

Speaking of NPR, has anyone listened to the various interviews/commentaries that have aired about Buffy and Joss Whedon? They're still archived at the NPR site. The first two are mainly a few academics and Buffy watchers discussing the phenomenon of Buffy and why it is worthy of serious study. The third is a great interview with Joss Whedon from 2000. Excellent stuff.

1. Buffy Studies -
http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1262180

2. End of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -
http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1269387

And my personal favorite:

3. 20-minute Interview with Joss Whedon -
http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=835108
I agree that the surging popularity of reality TV is surely a sign of the apocalypse. Especially for those of us who love our long and drawn-out story arcs. I have no idea how a show as wonderful and complex as Alias has managed to survive on a major network with middling ratings for 3 years, but I'm thankful it has. I'm also thankful that Angel has been just as arc-y and excellent this year, despite the initial reports that it would become a more stand alone series. I just can't get attached to those stand alone, CSI/Law and Order-ish type shows. There's nothing to draw me back in.

As for The Littlest Groom, the premiere drew in 7.5 million viewers and the conclusion ranked 45th in the ratings. Bigger than Angel numbers, yes, but not big in the overall scheme of things and hopefully small enough to ensure that we don't see any more episodes. Ever. Again.
That's all, folks. I'm done. Oh, I'll probably watch Wonderfalls (if it manages to stay on the air for more than six weeks), and maybe the odd Jane Espenson-penned Gilmore Girls ep, and I'll finish out NYPD Blue out of sheer, stubborn loyalty. But that's it. There's nothing else on network TV. After 35 years of TV addiction, by God, I think I've finally kicked the habit.

I'm not going to whine too much about the reality TV wave, if only because it seemed all-but-inevitable. With videos (now DVDs) and cable TV eating into the profits of network television, it followed that the big four (five? six?) would grow ever more conservative with their programming decisions, in order to preserve their dwindling market share. And when the bleeding continued (sorry for the mixed metaphor) due to the utter staleness of the scripted programs, the corporate bean counters desperately searched for a magic combination of cheap product and high ratings. They found it: Regis and "Millionaire." Then "Survivor." And now, we must live with all the misbegotten offspring of both.

But this isn't going to stop the bleeding. The viewing audience for the major networks will continue to shrink. What with TIVO and all the other devices that completely eliminate advertising from TV viewing, the paradigms that have shaped television watching since the medium's inception 65 years ago are falling away. The major networks, of course, don't want to believe this yet. They're stuck in old patterns, so they keep spiralling downward, sucked in by the gravity of the disintegrating planetoid they created (whoops--Star Trek metaphor).

So what is the future? Cable will dominate, of course, but we may see things like a true pay-for-TV series. Imagine if, at some point during the next five months, Joss Whedon came on line and said he's bought back the rights for ANGEL from Fox and he wants to produce a 13-episode ANGEL run for 2005-2006. He says he'll put out a four-DVD set that he'll ship to the Best Buys of the world at $50, wholesale. He's got commitments from Sky One and SciFi network on the back end, but in order to produce the series, he'll need at least 500,000 units sold. Would you be willing to spend at least $500 a year to buy your ten favorite TV programs?

Are you in?


CJL
I have no idea how a show as wonderful and complex as Alias has managed to survive on a major network with middling ratings for 3 years, but I'm thankful it has.

For Alias's sake, I'm glad that ABC can't seem to create a breakout hit in any genre. With no other scripted programs drawing in phenominal ratings or reviews (to my knowledge), and no outstanding reality shows to it's name (either quality-wise or the other kind of outstanding), it's almost like ABC is so desperate that they have to keep on great TV (a.k.a. "Alias"). Man, television is weird these days.
CJL, what are you talking about "ten favorite TV programs"? I think I have like TWO. >:) So sure, I'd probably shell out the $100 in that case. I spend triple that at Victoria's Secret buying underwear...oops, nevermind.
Would you be willing to spend at least $500 a year to buy your ten favorite TV programs?

Gee, if only there were 10 new shows I loved! The first-run US shows that I watch AT ALL can be counted on one cartoon hand:
Angel, Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle. And now Wonderfalls, I'm hoping. (OMG I just realized it's all Fox!)

I've looked in on other programs I've heard good things about but never find them worthy of my precious time. Other than the above, it's all old shows in syndication, BBC America and my little Animal Planet addiction.

And for this "other" I'm already paying well over $500 per year in cable bills. Makes me feel pretty foolish actually. Damn straight I'd pay for Angel & Firefly!
I take comfort in two comments in this article.
One, these things always work in cycles, so while everyone is leaping on the bandwagon today somewhere some new shows are being planned that will start the next big thing. And hopefully they will be scripted, quality, drama and comedy.
Two, the future value of these shows is poor, and sooner or later the suits will realise this in a big way. While they are cheap to make what syndication income or DVD sales will these shows get in five, ten or fifteen years from now when Buffy and Angel are still making money? This business is a long term operation, spend more money now and you'll have a cash cow for decades.
Phlebotinin, thanks for posting those NPR links. They kept me entertained for a big chunk of my morning.

VampiresSuck: I also agree that the sad state of ABC is beneficial to those of us who love a great show like Alias. It might not get great ratings, but it has tons of buzz and a breakout star in Jennifer Garner. I'm sure it also helps that the critics love it. Back in the old days, after axing My So-Called Life and a couple of other great shows, ABC was my archnemesis. Now I've moved on to loathing Fox and the WB.

As for the TV-to-DVD idea, I'd definitely shell out the cash to get more episodes of my favorite shows. Especially Angel.
Glad everybody's on board! If you'll indulge me, let me run with this idea for a minute....

January 2005: Joss buys back ANGEL from Fox. Mutant Enemy immediately starts up the "www.angels6.com" website. Joss says he can get DB, Alexis, JAR, Amy, James, et al. together for a 13-week summer shoot, and asks ANGEL fans to commit to an online purchase of the proposed 13-week ANGEL S6 (price tag: $50). He needs to move 500,000 units to meet the $25 million budget for the maxi-series.

If fan response meets that target, commitments from SciFi Network and Sky One to run all 13 episodes in Fall 2006 will kick in, and the production will go forward. If ME falls short of the goal by a little, Joss might have to trim the run by an episode or two; if they fall short by a lot, it's a no-go.

April 2005: 450,000 people shell out the $50. Joss says: "Good enough." Pre-production starts on ANGEL S6. Joss, Bell, Fury, DeKnight, Drew Goddard, Craft/Fain and Edlund are the writers. With the exception of Marita Grabiak on one episode, the writer/producers (and DB) direct the entire run.

June 2005 - September 2005: ANGEL S6 in production.

December 2005: Merry Christmas! The 450,000 ANGEL fans who financed the production get their 4-DVD sets. Oodles of backstage extras. Full commentaries on every episode. Joss leads off disk 1 with a heartfelt word of gratitude to "the reason why I stay in this nightmarish business"--the fans.

January 2006: "www.fireflyseries2.com" asks for pledges....

April 2006: The ANGEL S6 DVD ships out to fine video stores everywhere. (Minus the heartfelt word of gratitude.)

June 2006 - September 2006: Firefly Season Two in production.

October 2006: ANGEL S6 runs on Sky One and SciFi Network. SciFi Network buys rerun rights for Seasons 1-5.

And so on.....

Am I naive here? Could this work?
I'd buy a season or two, where do I sign up?
Thanks for the links phlebotinin! I'm so excited. I listen to NPR nearly every day. I do want to point out though, while it's a good bit better than for-profit stuff, they did put a huge amount of effort into trying to foil a legalized version of low-watt radio such as melsta wrote about so they're not entirely blameless in the grand scheme of things.

I'm totally down with rustyroxie (we have a DIY television station here but I don't know anything about it) and I like cjl's ideas too. I'd love to see a movement to break the vile corporate stronghold on accessible art.
cjl,

I don't think it's terribly naive, but neither am I sure the industry is ready for it. I wouldn't be averse to pre-paying for a show, per se, but what would be the realistic chances of getting all the actors on board for such a thing? I'm thinking not so good - they might all be on board with other projects and it would be unfair to ask them to "potentially block off their calendars" for something so unguaranteed.

Not to mention, IF talks are in the works with You-Know-Who about another season, it would be premature to suggest this idea now, and it could even jeopardize talks that may be going on at the present.

I say this from experience - when the Buffy CCG got axed by Score Entertainment from its production, a bunch of us who were heavily involved in the volunteer corps and had friends on the production staff were in talks to get a "final set" produced based on pre-orders. It got scuttled because some moron "fan" in Germany who thought he knew it all came in and started asking Fox how much it would be to buy the rights to the game and produce it himself. 1)The German guy was no millionaire and 2)Fox wanted something close to a million for the license. What do you think happened? However, in the meantime, talks about a final pre-order set got stalled because of this, Score's license ran out, and there was a major staff overhaul at Score. We got nothing but a big fat raspberry.

I'm not saying this to be a party-pooper, but I think it's best to focus our collective efforts on the current campaign for a sixth series on network tv since it seems to be paying some dividends. We also owe it to the people who worked so hard to set those campaigns up to see it through until the end. Assuming all we get is slammed doors, I'd, personally, be more than happy to support a direct-to-DVD campaign.
You know, the bright side is that the Angel writers are in demand. They can all go off and run other shows, or produce pilots for new scripted series.
cubiclesatan:

I agree with everything you just said.

Absolutely--I support the campaign to get a sixth season for ANGEL on network TV. Let's go b**lls-to-the-wall on this. Exhaust any and all options to make that happen. Give Jordan Levin unholy hell.

Consider my proposition a peek into the future if all else fails. Yes, in some ways, it's not realistic: How can Joss "buy back" ANGEL from Fox without breaking his bank account? If ME goes independent, where will they shoot the 13-week run? How can they possibly get all the actors back in one spot? (That's why I "scheduled" the S6 production from June to September; minimum interference with the major network shooting schedules. Movies are another matter...)

But something like this will happen eventually, if not for ANGEL, then for FIREFLY, or another inspired TV series with a passionate creator who refuses to accept the old business mathematics.

I do want ANGEL back on the networks for the 2004-5 season. But if the campaign flames out, and all looks grim, maybe ANGEL can be the first to go direct-to-DVD. Heck, somebody has to be first, right?
You know I'm sure I read somewhere in the last year that the creator of 24 said there was plans for a special season of '24' going straight to DVD.
Simon:

Indeed.

http://www.videostoremag.com/news/html/breaking_article.cfm?sec_id=2&article_ID=5457

Very interesting article. Technically, it would be a "24" spinoff, maintaining the format without Keifer and the rest of the regular cast.
That would be it. Thank you cjl. What you said about a sixth season of Angel on DVD made me think of that.
Interesting article. I despise reality TV and have seen it as a leech sucking off the creative jugular ever since "Millionaire" debuted. Procedural drama also leaves me cold; I just can't care about mundane-world reenactments and boring two-shots of people in business suits when the daily news is crazier than anything these law shows can cook up. Nor do I get thrills from watching crimes be solved every week. It's too tidy a way of dealing with the messiness of everyday death and heartbreak.

I do hope the current inhospitable environment for genre is cyclical. Maybe I'll come back to network TV on the up-bounce, if it's still around (though I won't be getting rid of the TV just yet -- I have hope for 'Wonderfalls', and there's those trusty DVDs and VHS tapes that have become my nightly ritual).

You know, the bright side is that the Angel writers are in demand. They can all go off and run other shows, or produce pilots for new scripted series.

True, Allyson. And I'll be inclined to follow their work as long as they continue to blaze creative trails. My worry is that they'll be reduced to pitching stories that fall in line with the other shows already out there. And if I'm not watching network TV at all, how will I know about these shows? I won't see the ads if I'm not watching other programming on those networks. It's a quandary.

It makes me happy, knowing these talented folks won't be jobless for long. But that's no consolation for my misery at an Angel/Buffy-verseless future. That's the world Joss and ME made me fall in love with.

Maybe lightning can strike twice and 'Firefly', for instance, will reignite? Or another ME show will change the cultural landscape? I'm thinking 'Buffy' and 'Angel' encompass a confluence of creativity and vision that may prove to be singular in TV history. I'm sure that's why people are having such a difficult time with letting go of 'Angel'. There wasn't sufficient time to prepare emotionally for its untimely demise in the fandom. 'Buffy' ended when it should have, in my opinion, but 'Angel' doesn't feel 'done'. (Not to mention that its cancellation is closing the door on an entire original universe, as far as we know now.)

I'm looking forward to 'Wonderfalls', and completely open to whatever else any ME writer/producer/actor does. But it's not going to be 'Angel' -- a show (and a love) like that only comes once in a lifetime, and that's if you're very lucky.

Edited because grammar matters.

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-03-09 00:32 ]
Well said, Wiseblood! I totally agree.
I love Wonderfalls like I loved Buffy.

Loved Firefly more than I loved Angel.

I love Fury most of all, though. My heart aches that I won't be seeing his work next season.
Next season's slate of Fantasy/SciFi/Horror - so it's still coming .... but as was said it's all about cycles - how many times have they mentioned sitcoms or dramas are dead in the past ... so this will pass as well eventually...

NBC - Medium; Suburban mom uses her psychic powers to solve crimes
Revelations; Group tries to forestall the apocalypse; "The X-Files" meets "The Da Vinci Code"

CBS - Sudbury; The trials and tribulations of a family of witches

FOX - Point Pleasant; Beachside community turns upside down when a girl washes ashore
Ricochet; Cop drama in the vein of "Memento"

WB - Dark Shadows; Remake of the ABC soap about a wealthy Maine family under a vampire curse
Global Frequency; Based on DC comic about an intelligence agency where agents are ordinary folk (midseason)
The Robinsons: Lost in Space; A remake of Irwin Allen's fantasy-adventure drama set in 2097

UPN - Silver Lake; Dramedy about an L.A. record store owner who communicates with the dead.

As for TV to DVD - 24, Babylon5, and Family Guy are all in talks for straight to DVD releases. 2 of the mention are owned by FOX.

[ edited by RavenU on 2004-03-09 01:12 ]
Beautifully said, Wiseblood. While Angel writers and producers are so talented that they should find work elsewhere, the lack of a collective ME force in television is.....wrong. The same old same old that the Angel alums may have to follow to survive in network tv is death. It may indeed be time for a paradigm shift in tv show production, a la the excellent suggestions by cji for direct-to-DVD.

And yes, letting go of Angel and the Buffy/Angelverse is tragic. Angel was meant to go longer. This feels wrong at a cellular level.
Is it just me or does NBC and CBS' line ups sound really bad? Heck you could combine all three shows into one. Dramedy about a psychic crime solving suburban mom who has to raise a family of witches and save the world from the apocalypse on a regular basis. Must see TV my arse.

I'd watch Point Pleasant cause Marti's involved. Global Frequency whilst being a terrific comic book mini-series will be the TV equivalent of the Constantine movie.
Yeah I'm just waiting for the reality hype to be over, and I'm sure it WILL blow over, but it's taking longer than I thought or hoped.

I actually saw a few minutes of the Littlest Groom by the way. It's every thing you would expect from it. The guy is lapping up the attentions of all the ladies, and they are basically split between the 'tall' girls and the 'dwarf' girls. And boy are they 'bitch-feuding'. So the main thing seems to be: will he pick someone of his 'own kind' or will he pick a 'tall girl'? Makes me want to heave.

And now you guys tell me there's that Amish thing.

This is what TV has come to.

Stand out line to me in that article was this: " Interference from network executives is at an all-time high, " Yeah. The greedy money vampires who wouldn't know a good product if it bit them in their wallets are directly messing with things more and more. It is ALWAYS a recipe for crap.
Actually Simon, I wouldn't trash the upcoming TV version of Global Frequency just yet. The creator of the comic, Warren Ellis, has some excellent things to say about the pilot script in this small interview with CHUD.com. You can find it here:

http://www.chud.com/news/jan04/jan30global.php3

Amongst other things, he mentions: "It completely captures the tone, keeps some scenes entirely whole and doesn't change a damn thing about the central concept. Not a thing. John Rogers, the writer, did a brilliant job, and stayed in touch with me during every phase of the writing."
Well MIndPieces - he might change his mind by now cause that interview was done in Jan - and just a few weeks ago they announced do to cgi problems the filming for Global Frequency was being pushed off until July and thus the series would not be ready for a fall launch and would have to be pushed to mid - season.

cjl; I am right there with you and have been promoting that idea since the beginning of this season and I think FOX would have done that this season if WB had not picked up the option - that's why ME was surprised by the pick up announcement by the WB when they thought they had a full season already. If they are in talks - I would bet FOX is only trying to sell them the half season and they would do the rest as a release to DVD. Dunn and Feldstien (pres and vp of FOX home video) are huge proponates of TV to DVD. Feldsten even said, "The success of 'Family Guy' proves a couple of things — not just (that) films find their ultimate audience on DVD, but also if you effectively tap into a loyal but dormant fan base, you can reinvigorate a property and bring it back into the popular culture." Dunn has also been quoted saying,"And we're going to go back into production on "Family Guy" specifically for the DVD market, as a result of the DVD success. I think this 34-year-old male, who is a very avid purchaser, fits right into the demo of our TV DVD business and it's created a revenue source that didn't exist during the VHS days.

Also with a report out today in THR - "Figures for 2003 revealed that penetration rates across Europe leapt from 19% of households at the start of the year to 34% or 50 million homes by the end of December. The U.K. saw spectacular growth, with DVDs installed rising from 6.7 million to 11.3 million (45%) by the end of 2003, five years after the format's official launch.... Europeans now spend more on DVDs than cinema and computer games combined, according to Helen Davis Jayalath, senior analyst at Screen Digest, and the format has forced European video distributors to reassess business models and release strategies in the face of changing consumer behavior."Video has always been a key revenue stream, not only for Hollywood but also for other content providers such as European film producers and television companies," she said. "The collectability of DVD means that increasing numbers of consumers are opting to buy their favorite titles on disc, rather than rent them -- a trend that has had major repercussions on the very structure of the video business in recent years."

With Region free DVD on the way to the market it is easy to see how this line of marketing could be exactly the way for shows like Angel to go.

[ edited by RavenU on 2004-03-09 02:40 ]
Y'know I was a bit skeptical about the direct to DVD idea at first, but the more I read about it, the more it sounds like the kind of idea that could revolutionize the entertainment industry, just as the home video market did. If the Fox home video suits recognize this, then we have some interesting scenarios opening up if the WB puts the kibosh on a 6th season for Angel.

Even if they can't get the financing to shoot a strictly episodic season, there's no reason why they couldn't do it as a mini-series, a movie, or as many episodes as they can afford. Most cable and BBC series are much shorter than their network counterparts. As for actor availability, that could work in their favor as well. They could do a Wes, Spike, Gunn, or Lorne-centric episode built around who's available.

And best of all, the frickin' WB would lose out on any profits whatsoever, as well as losing Angel for their own tv movies.
Allyson, I'm curious. If all the other ME writers are in demand, why not Fury, too? After his turn as Framkin on 'Smile Time' I figured he'd be fielding calls from prospective casting agents as well as pitching stories at one network or another. Or is he just taking some (well-deserved) time off?

RavenU and cjl, TV to DVD sounds so cool, I wish 'Angel' could be the first genre drama (with the original cast) to go that route. I'd definitely buy the discs, sight unseen, if the production values and everything else were maintained at least at current levels.

If a half-season pickup fails to materialize, perhaps the much-discussed TV movies (either AtS or BtVS) in the future could be taken on by Fox instead of the WB and made to go straight to DVD? If Fox owns the rights, backs the production, and controls the profit stream from the finished product, it seems to me it's no more expensive an experiment than firing off a multi-million dollar film. Except in 'Angel's case they know the market is out there -- a known fanbase of an established franchise, loyal and still hot for more story, equals built-in profitability. God knows I hated Fox with the fury of a thousand supernovae when they axed 'Firefly' (and I haven't watched their network since, though I'm about to make an exception with 'Wonderfalls'), but this would go a long way towards damping my still-smoldering ire.

Edit: punkinpuss, apparently you read my mind. ;)

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-03-09 08:45 ]
Just for the record the 1st season releases of both Sex In The City and The Sopranos on DVD made enough money to cover the production cost of those seasons for HBO in the first 6 monthes - which surprised the heck out of the entire industry.

Wiseblood; Babylon 5 and 24 are already in talks but I think an Angel transition would be quicker and smoother since the stage is already set.

From my RUMORMILL - I have heard from a friend of mine that works for Paramount studios that FOX has made no effort in re-negosiating the contracts for the studio space it is using at paramount and that the contract last through till summer 2005. So that may be a good sign - normally if a show is canceled they set in motion what they need to cancel the contract for studio use. Unless they plan on using the sets for abother show to shoot on.

Off-Topic : Electic personality - Spauldin Grey's body was found today - he had been missing since Christmas. Sorry this just ads to the sadness of this year.

[ edited by RavenU on 2004-03-09 03:36 ]
Oh, Fury mentioned that maybe he'd just like to stay home with his kids for awhile.

He'd be a fantastic showrunner, though.
That guy Jeremy who runs fireflymovie.com has some kind of DVD production company and tried to get Firefly to go that direction. Has he expressed any interest in approaching ME about Angel?

And RavenU, I read the news a few hours ago. I'm so sad. I know I couldn't expect anything different but I still hoped there would be some bizarre explanation. Terrible loss.
Babylon 5 and 24 are already in talks but I think an Angel transition would be quicker and smoother since the stage is already set.

Well then. All 'Angel' needs to do is to add a number to its name and we're set. ;)

Re: Spaulding Gray -- R.I.P. Here's a quote of his that sort of puts me in mind of the Whedonverse specifically, and the creative impulse in general:

"I think of myself as a collage artist. I'm cutting and pasting memories of my life. And I say, I have to live a life in order to tell a life. I would prefer to tell it because telling you're always in control, you're like God." -- from an online interview with The Gate, 1998.
To add to RavenU's Genre show list

CBC - Century City; Lawyers in 2030 dealing with impact of tech on law & the justice system. Anybody heard anyhting about this? Starts Tuesday March 16. BTW, the very yummy Ioan Gruffudd is one of the stars.

"With the developments of cloning cells, genetic profiling, mind-altering antibiotics and even virtual rape, the attorneys of Crane, Constable, McNeil & Montero find themselves with an ongoing case load of precedent setting cases. In a time when lawyers can go before judges as holograms, the firm takes on such morally and ethically ambiguous cases as parents suing their doctor for withholding critical results of their unborn child's genetic mapping; defending a man accused of robbery for "stealing" back his identity from his ex-fiancé who has uploaded his presence and personality; protecting the rights of a woman who has been virtually raped through nanotechnology; and defending a rock star who refused to alter the laws of human nature to help his band stay on top. The attorneys are exceedingly aware that progress and development bring both luxuries and challenges. Tackling uncharted legal territory, Century City provides an eye-opening look into the issues confronting society in the year 2030 -the not so distant future."
redfern-- "the very yummy Ioan Gruffudd is one of the stars." He is? Oohhh, yummy indeed!

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