This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket."
11983 members | you are not logged in | 27 May 2017




Tweet







March 17 2004

An open letter from Tim Minear to the Grass Roots. "If you do one thing: turn on your TV to Fox this Friday night at nine....you are the most dedicated, passionate and, frankly, smartest fans around".

One of the best letters I've read in ages.

Update: Changed link to Aint It Cool. Although Tim Minear posted the news on the An Angel's Soul Spoiler Board, Voy will archive the post and then it will disappear for good.

I'm trying desperately to turn my friends who wouldn't give Buffy a chance on to Wonderfalls....we'll see what happens. As of yet, I'm not gonna get terribly attached, though. There is a precedent for fantastic shows tanking early.
A gorgeous plea to the fans. If Tim's worried, I'm worried. I want him to succeed so badly......

I'll also spread the word.

Why must things seem so dire and apocalyptic these days? Now that Angel has been cancelled the only bright spot in the Whedonverse for me right now is the Firefly movie, although it's still unclear whether Ron Glass will be involved. Not to have Book as part of the mix would be horrible. I also wish Tim were involved.
Well, most of my friends are TVless types, but I put this link up on my Live Journal, which I have had for 3 days and am kindof fond of in that new thing way..
I posted this on my favorite message board, but I'd like to say it here, too.

My Dearest Tim,

Which one of my body parts would you like to enlarge? ;-)

Seriously, though, the biggest obstacle to "Wonderfalls" success is its timeslot. (And I am not sure following "Tru Calling" is gonna help much, either.) That is beyond your control, so let's just say there it is and move on.

The second biggest obstacle is "Joan of Arcadia". Even though there are vast differences in the two shows, in the broadest sense, they are about the same thing - a young woman gets "visitations" that direct her to get involved. A large percentage of TV viewers will say to themselves "been there, done that" without *ever* even watching the show - especially those who were turned off by "JoA" - because that's how the average TV viewer thinks. Your only hope with these folks is BRILLIANT WRITING, because nothing short of raves among their co-workers and classmates will lure them your way.

That, or write a about a pig (or a puppy) going over the Falls on the show. Do something horrid, and they will tune in.

Beyond that, I 'd suggest diluting the "Formula" Cast with some
original characters, lowering the "quirky" quotient, bring in a Young Male character who is not Her love interest, and please, dear God, please - no Music Video endings!

And Good Luck, Tim! I fear you're gonna need it.
Yeah it's true. Selling something in a brief trailer is hard to do for things which good parts are not easily shown. We're so bludgeoned to death with 'concept'. Concept is highly overrated. The concept of Wonderfalls, or Buffy or Angel or Firefly for that matter, could have led to absolute crap in less capable hands. It's the execution that matters.

The concept of Batman can lead to the campy 60's TV show or it can lead to Tim Burton's films. Or better yet, Frank Miller's Year One. Same concept, yet in execution as different as Naked Gun is from L. A. Confidential.

But deeper, more intelligent elements of a show are hard to get across in a trailer. Firefly had the same problem. It looked like 'Another Star Trek but with cowboy clothes' to many people. Wonderfalls looks like Joan of Arcadia but more snarky and funny. That means you can scare people off who like JoA, because they feel it's an irreverent rip-off, and people who hate JoA, who feel it's too close to it.

Of course that the similarities are not that strong is only apparent when you actually watch it. But then there's the rub....

Other than that: timeslot. HELLOOOO! FOOOOX! IT'S CALLED THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT FOR A REASON! Put it on monday or something. No one goes out on monday evening, but there's no real competition either. Oy, will they ever learn?
LoL. Begging is never pretty, and that's what that letter is basically. But I think by posting online he is preaching to the choir, its the yahoos with the boxes who aren't in touch with intelligent shows (only way to explain the whacky reality shows we have).

I actually know someone that does Nielsen stuff but it's a written journal they ask him to do, they don't give everyone a box. Funny thing is, he barely watches TV and I know Wonderfalls would not appeal to him.
Can't you tell him to write Wonderfalls in there anyway? Bribe him with baked goods or something, whatever it takes! I'd kill for one of those Nielsen things, I feel so unimportant in the grand scheme of TV land.
LoL. Begging is never pretty, and that's what that letter is basically.

Huh. You know, even if he were begging, he'd look pretty doing it. Minear? Handsome guy.
Well, I for one have noted Tim's attractiveness and filed it away under "hmm, very nice." Although I haven't done the noting in person, alas. Unlike certain Allyson-like people who get to go to (and even organize) all the cool events. :)

I didn't see Tim's letter as begging. He may be worried about Wonderfalls' fate and he may be urging the fans to tune in, but he's earned his right to do this -- the man posts regularly on fan boards and treats Whedonverse (and Minearverse) devotees with a lot of respect.
Ha! I'm way ahead of Tim. I just got home and was pimping for Wonderfalls before I even read his letter. My friend, who is a fellow Whedon fan, will be watching the re-air of the pilot on Thursday. If he enjoys it, he and I should add at least another half dozen viewers. He works at the local comic shop, so he can put the word out there as well. Sadly, I doubt any of this gaggle of geeks are Nielsen statistics.

Side note....I don't think Tim is begging. I'd call it raising awareness. Though I'm not sure that the original 'begging' comment was meant to start a serious controversy. My friend I mentioned above is a huge fan of the Whedonverse but he has very limited access to the net. He didn't even know that Tim was a part of the show. I have to wonder how many more people there are out there who don't realize the link. If I can do anything to connect the dots for the uninformed, I'm happy to do so. I owe him one for all his hard work on Angel.
Hmm. What are my options? 1. write about it on my websites. Good, but perhaps not too effective. 2. Pass on the URL to any (not TV related) mailing lists I am on that have American subscribers? I'd get my arse kicked for being off topic, or spamming.

I don't feel I can be held responsible for what happens on American TV stations. But even if I lived in the USA, how can I pimp a show that I've only seen one episode of? We haven't had time to get attached it, yet we're supposed to champion it already?

I liked the Wonderfalls pilot. I'm not in love with it yet. I'd walk through fire for a friend - but an acquaintance will have to prove their worth first before I stick my neck out.

Also... how long before the 'grass roots' tire of having to jump on the barricades?
I found the letter rather base and one could definately come to the conclusion that the author was "begging." I think that Tim Minear's work is top notch but I really dislike his personality and his sense of humor...And I believe quite a bit of the latter came through in this letter.
I would love to help promote 'Wonderfalls' in the word-of-mouth sense, but I don't really know anybody who's not already watching it or not completely disinterested.
This letter reminded me of this Whedonesque item from October 2002.
I did try getting my friends (and anyone else who knows my screen name) to watch the show last Friday, by way of an Away Message which read:

"You know those days when I have to waste an entire away message telling you to watch some show before they cancel it, and it's usually something you'd find weird, featuring vampire lawyers or horses in space or frozen bananna stands and never-nudes? Yeah, well how's about we get an early start on things tonight, because the pilot for this show? Talking monkey and a tracheotomy."

Not sure if anybody heeded my request, though...I'll be putting it up again tomorrow, though!
Personally I think FOX should be the champion of its own shows before having to rely on fans to sell them like Amway. Starting a show in the death slot when no one is watching and then repeating it in the slot when everyone is watching something else makes me think FOX doesn't care about this show, so why should I?
Of course it's sad that fans are being asked to sell quality shows like Amway. But things are particularly dire in TelevisionLand these days -- reality shows replicate like flies and quality shows are given very little chance before being yanked off the air. There is an all too brief window of opportunity for such shows to demonstrate ratings success. What to do about this, if anything? Short of staging armed coups and taking over networks, all fans can do at this point is campaign, spread the word, and watch. It may end up being futile or not. But what is the alternative? Just taking whatever the networks serve us like good little sheep? Or turning off the tube altogether, which I suppose wouldn't be a gigantic tragedy.
I liked the Wonderfalls pilot. I'm not in love with it yet. I'd walk through fire for a friend - but an acquaintance will have to prove their worth first before I stick my neck out.

I'm not sure how Tim can "prove his worth," Caroline. Do you mean as a writer? Or the show itself?

I'm a huge fan of Tim's, and I've seen so many episodes of the show that I'm already in love, so it's easier for me to shill.

And my expecations are reasonable, I just want them to show all 13 eps to give the show its run, it's shot. If viewers aren't happy with it at that point, it'll get canceled. Makes me sad, but at least it will have had a fair shake.

I found the letter rather base and one could definately come to the conclusion that the author was "begging." I think that Tim Minear's work is top notch but I really dislike his personality and his sense of humor...And I believe quite a bit of the latter came through in this letter.

It's okay, not everyone is going to like everyone. I love him enough for ten people. He's a good man, always been there for the fans since the Lois & Clark days, and I adore Wonderfalls.
"I'm not sure how Tim can "prove his worth," Caroline. Do you mean as a writer? Or the show itself?"

I was talking about the show, not about Tim.

Hmm. Maybe we need a metaphor font colour too. (Imagine this last sentence is purple.)
Personally I coming from, but I think that word-of-mouth might actually a more effithink FOX should be the champion of its own shows before having to rely on fans to sell them like Amway.

I can see where you're coming from, but I think that word-of-mouth might actually be a more efficient way of promoting a show than ads...I mean, it's one thing for a network to recommend their own show to you, but it's a completely different thing if a friend (or, ya know, an acquaintence, if you're mine) tells you to watch something.

I actually think FOX has done a pretty efficient (or maybe relatively efficient) job at promoting the show on their own time...but, as the numbers (or lack thereof) show, they'll have to go a step further if they want anyone besides the smart people, being that we're the minority, to tune in.
Personally I think FOX should be the champion of its own shows before having to rely on fans to sell them like Amway. LOL prufrock!

But what is the alternative? Just taking whatever the networks serve us like good little sheep? Or turning off the tube altogether, which I suppose wouldn't be a gigantic tragedy.

Well, I'm a big proponent of the latter. I can assure you it's painless but I also like this idea: ...staging armed coups and taking over networks. ;)

reality shows replicate like flies

Yeah, what is that about anyway? Your brainy phlebotinin--what do you think it is? Spontaneous generation? An evil commie pinko plot? Mad Television Executive Disease? What? What is it?!
Great away message there, VampiresSuck. I've only seen one episode of this show, but I loved it enough and have enough faith in Tim to do my part pimping it. I posted Tim's letter in both of my online journals and e-mailed it to all of my online friends. Will this honestly make a difference? If all 5 million people who watched the pilot did it, I think it definitely could.

I liked the Wonderfalls pilot. I'm not in love with it yet. I'd walk through fire for a friend - but an acquaintance will have to prove their worth first before I stick my neck out.

Of course, the problem is the fact that the networks don't allow us time to become close, personal friends with many shows. Sometimes you have to stick your neck out for an acquaintance, or else they'll be slaughtered before you get a chance to really know them.
Caroline - Now a days on US TV you don't have a lot of time to prove yourself or build an audience if your lucky you get all 13 hours if your not you may get 4. And after the numbers last week I can see why after one episode Tim would be out begging to the masses. Obviously this show that FOX claims to support probably has already taken a hit, networks frown on low ratings unless you have high demos (ie Tru Calling - ratings bad but demos good) in this case I don't think they know the demo market yet - like Tim said for some reason in test market women hated it but men loved it. Which is great if it was going against chick programming but it's not it's going against guy shows like JAG which just showed it's 200th episode last Friday. So I can see his need to get the word out perhaps he needs to pimp his stars out to talk shows - especially late night ones.

On a side note - I know someone who does have the overnight Neilsen meter (yeah just found this out last week) - it's in his summer home. The dude does not even live there full time just a month or two out of the year - here is the kicker - Neilsen is aware of this but insisted on putting their box in that home because it was the address they had selected for that area. How much does that suck.
RavenU, your story about the Nielsen meter makes my jaw drop. Unbelievable. Absurd. Shows are sent to the graveyard because advertisers won't pay good money because of what these meters say. Truly absurd.

Speaking of the Nielsens, this blurb about Wonderfalls appeared today in the tv column of my paper, the Washington Post:

"Death by scheduling is Fox's game plan for this new darling of critics, which the network has dumped on Friday nights. It opened last week with just 4.3 million viewers -- the lousiest premiere for any scripted series on any of the Big Four broadcast networks this season."

Tim Minear's letter pleading for fans to watch doesn't seem so inappropriately desperate, does it? Desperate his letter may have been, but for good reason.

stakeholder, I'm actually a total dimwit. But I know a vast, evil plot when I see one and reality shows are clearly a Trojan Horse for -- drumroll -- a little entity called Blue Sun Corporation to spearhead its plan for world domination, beginning with sucking out the brains from the teeming, tv-watching hordes via said "reality" shows. The Whedonverse warriors have nobly tried to warn us, Joss and Tim most blatantly with daring references to Blue Sun and its nefarious agents in "Firefly." Ben Edlund also knows what's going on....he recently tried to warn us all in code with "Smile Time." Alas, his message seems to be for naught. Reality shows have taken over. We are all puppets. Two by two, hands of blue....
I love Tim's work and am hoping Wonderfalls can succeed. It's a tough environment for creative scripted shows right now. Traditional network strategies for creating dependable shows are falling apart, and reality TV is just the rotten thread that's temporarily holding the seams together. They're trying to plug those holes with quick-hit fixes, even if they don't get that the reality craze is also driving away some of the smartest and most affluent of their viewers.

I don't see Tim on his knees at my feet, so I wouldn't call this begging. But it's a call to arms for sure. And why not reach out and touch the masses through the grass roots? The Xtian fundies have been using that strategy for years, and it's extremely effective. Go for what works, I say!

He can but ask; we can either watch and hope WF improves its numbers on its own (with little help from its own network), or talk it up and help spread the word. The likely outcome of depending on the former strategy is it gets cancelled, and we find ourselves one hour closer to having no intelligent choices on broadcast TV.

Also, if anyone's interested, gretch at ASSB has created a Wonderfalls Voy forum. Come check it out. It's very colorful. :)
Please let me know what you think...

Its funny...4.3 million viewers is seen as a dismal failure to Fox but AtS only garners 3.7 million on its best night...This really shows me the hopelessness of AtS...It is such a wonderful program but it can only hope to get only over 3 million viewers/episode...In the big picture, 3 million is pretty pathetic...I am really depressed about this...AtS can only drawn miniscule numbers on its "best" night [comparatively] but we all know it is utter brilliance...Perhaps Joss should hire a competent publicist for ME...

Obviously the folks internally [at ME] are not up to the task...ME shows are soo smart and deep,they deserve more than they usually get...On a side note...is Wonderfalls produced by ME? If not, has anyone noticed how all of the best talent [Petrie, Noxen, and Espensen] have dumped ME for other projects...Is ME a sinking ship? I certainly hope not!
Simpleba - on a great day the WB can only get about 10 million viewers. Where as on FOX (as proven by American Idol) they can get up to 30 million viewers.
So huge difference there, also a while ago someone ask me how I found those numbers that show the WB and UPN in 30% of the US market compared to the big four which are around 70%. When according to other sources they cover as many markets up to 90%, that may be based on market availible, the numbers I read came from actual market reach. Thus meaning how much power does the affilliates tower have to broadcast the signal out and between the WB and UPN they have the weakest towers in all the markets and even though it make look on the surface that they can reach all the target audience in fact the broadcast strenght may only be able to effectively reach half that if they are lucky. Some of the netlets rely more on their signal being delivers by a cable or sattelite company than by their own broadcast towers. So that's why the numbers look so off. I hope that explains it a little better.
Simpleba: Mutant Enemy only has four employees. It's the production company. It's Joss, Chris, and their assistants. There's a PA, too, I think. The ANGEL writers don't work for ME, they work for ANGEL.

Writers didn't "dump" anything. When Buffy ended, there wasn't any work for Marti, Doug, Jane, et al. They were unemployed at that point. So they had to develop or find work on other shows.

ETA: Sorry, I forgot about the rest of your question. Wonderfalls is not produced by Mutant Enemy, no.

Mutant Enemy isn't sinking, it's producing the Firefly movie in partnership with FOX and Universal. So it's pretty buoyant. They do have a new publicist, but I believe that is for Firefly.

[ edited by Allyson on 2004-03-18 17:18 ]
The afore mentioned writes could have stuck around to write for Angel...especially considering they were considered the "A gamers"
They couldn't have stuck around. ANGEL couldn't afford them unless they shot the series in my apartment, and substituted me for Angel and a sock puppet for Spike.

They had to lay people off and cut production values in all sorts of ways just to get picked up for season five.

This wasn't about loyalty, they didn't just walk out, there was no money to pay them to all come over, and plus? Not enough work in 22 episodes for all of those writers.

I'm not sure why you think that they quit. Buffy ended, there wasn't enough money to hire them all for Angel, so they got new jobs.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home