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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Cup of tea, cup of tea, nearly got shagged, cup of tea?"
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April 07 2004

Fox: Specializing in killing good shows young. You can say that again. The associated press report on the end on Wonderfalls.

I am starting to hate the term "skein".
"Game Over" got good reviews? I watched the pilot--it was okay, but nothing special.
Let's start a "We Hate the Term 'Skein'" Club, Scott. It sets my teeth on edge. Sure, it doesn't compare to bombing villages and beating up children. But it registers on my annoyance scale. I wonder why. I usually love words of all kinds.
I removed the all caps link title. Just a bit overbearing in yellow.
I noticed the caps after I posted. I just copied the title from the link itself. Thanks for changing it.
Fox sure has come a long way from their 'X-Files' days. Remember when they would air a cool new genre show in one place for more than two or three weeks? And then let it stick around, despite less than stellar initial ratings, so people could actually find it, and then fall in love with it? What happened to that network?

Tim was just on the Succubus Club, and he had some interesting things to say about the future of network TV that got me to thinking. He pointed out that, once upon a time, all the major networks used to have programming that gave them unique identities. It helped viewers find programs suited to their personal taste. (Older and more conservative? Go with CBS. A little more experimental, but still respectable? Try NBC. Younger and trendier? ABC is your 'net. I can remember watching ABC programming for hours at a time in the '70's, as a kid. Their shows were considered more fun and somewhat racy back then, so I was immediately drawn to them over the more bland offerings my parents preferred.)

Then Fox came along in the '80's and blew all the old niches out of the water by aiming more at specific demographics -- the precious 18 to 34 bracket, mainly. Suddenly, they were the go-to place for cutting-edge stuff. Slowly, other networks started trying to copy their winning strategy, but in the meantime reality TV appeared and began its takeover of the broadcast airwaves. Now all the broadcast 'nets are starting to look alike, and Tim opined that reality TV has caused the Big Four to lose their distinctive traits. This is why scripted TV may be in trouble, and why he says writers like him may be outgrowing broadcast TV. Cable, on the other hand, is exploding with quality shows these days. "The Sopranos" may not pull in as many eyeballs as, say, "The Apprentice", but it's a cultural phenomenon just the same, and one of quality and originality that's recognized everywhere.

Tim's observation about the difference between broadcast and cable made note of the fact that they operate on totally different business models. Broadcast networks sell advertising, which means keeping consumers buying stuff promoted by paid sponsers is what pays the bills. Cable channels, on the other hand, work on a subscription basis; they sell themselves, which is why they can promote and nurture more unusual and experimental shows that the Big Four seem to no longer have any interest in developing. To them, it's all about their identity in the marketplace, and subscribers are willing to pay to bring that into their homes on a daily basis because they're looking for something different than the sea of mediocrity elsewhere. Bravo, HBO and Showtime have strong identities. Increasingly, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, don't.

The times, they are a'changin'. We think broadcast TV is bad now. Just wait until everyone who's really talented (and tired of being hamstrung by S&P and corporate meddlers) refuses to write for network TV anymore because they can get the respect and creative control on cable they deserve. It sounded like Tim was mulling the thought of such an option himself; it makes sense. Maybe cable is where all the really good TV will be in a few years?

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-04-08 05:54 ]
These 'Wonderfalls has been cancelled' articles are getting a bit repetitive. There's nothing really new here.

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