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June 19 2004

One Last Angel Rant. A rant about ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's report on the final ratings for broadcast series. Yes, Angel was up in the ratings while the other WB shows dove.

I almost feel like going all Oliver Stone and crying "Conspiracy!" from the rooftops, because the more I hear about things like this, the less the cancellation makes any sense. Not having a good reason for the death of Angel makes it all the more painful.
More proof that the absurd cancelling of Angel is what caused Levin to lose his plum job. The numbers were there before the cancellation announcement came and proved that the audience was growing. Then to cancel the one show they have that was increasing an audience and to keep all the shows that are losing audiences makes no sense no matter how you look at it. Yeah, I also feel that someone was out to get Joss because you just don't cancel successes. And I've always thought their "repeat" arguement was full of crap. If it didn't repeat well, why is it so successful on TNT and why is it so successful in the DVD sales department. I loved both Angel and BtVS but it's a shame that Angel didn't have a chance to shine on it's own because it was definitely heading there and finding it's own unique audience. This year was proof of that with a growing audience and increased DVD sales.
I might be mollified by seeing some heads on pikes. If only all of this had gelled earlier - say, right after cancellation, so that the board could make Levin crawl across broken glass on his knees to Whedon and beg for forgiveness.
God I hate to even say this but an awful thought just crossed my mind...do you think its possible that Joss had to sacrifice Angel in order to get Serenity? *covers eyes*
No comment. :)
Willowy wrote:
". . . do you think its possible that Joss had to sacrifice Angel in order to get Serenity? *covers eyes* "

Amy Acker said she talked to Joss before the meeting with Levin*:
"I actually saw Joss [Whedon] the day that he found out. I'd gone over and we got some lunch and he said, "I'm going to dinner with [WB President] Jordan Levin tonight," and I said, '"Oh, well call me if the show gets cancelled or something." And he was like, "That's not gonna happen! We're doing the best we've ever done."

Everything Joss has said since the cancellation wouldn't hint at that connection between the shows. Further, I cannot imagine Joss sacrificing one of his shows, no way, no how.

Even further, Serenity was nailed down long before there was news of Angel going Tango Uniform.

*Source: http://www.slayerverse.de/tanet/net_buffy_us/index.php?navi=news.php&id=6466
Plus Joss had Jeff Bell running Angel. I mean, sure he was still very much involved, but I think Jeff Bell carried a lot of the weight. Even with Serenity happening it would be perfectly possible for him to still be involved with Angel. He just might not write an episode:(. I think Jeff Bell deserves more credit for his work. I'm going to go lay down in the fetal position and watch the finale again...

p.s. If I ever see Levin in the street, I'm going to trip him.
I guess he didn't read EW all that closely.


Angel was one of the lowest rated one hour programs on the Frog last season. The only two shows lower than Angel were Tarzan & One Tree Hill.

On the One Tree Hill front, it's a new show (believe it's produced by Warner TV also) and was gaining audience as the season dragged on. Those three things certainly give it an edge over Angel.

Not trying to bring down the joy around here but there is a reasonable (albeit wrong) argument to cancelling Angel.
[ edited by Unitas on 2004-06-19 22:02 ]

[ edited by Unitas on 2004-06-19 22:12 ]
bunny, I will get down on all fours behind him, and then you just give him a shove.
Unitas, maybe that article said that about it being the third lowest show on the network but right before it was cancelled, on the WB website no less, Levin stated that Angel was their second highest rated show and the numbers continued to grow so I don't think that statement was accurate. Or maybe it is correct and they are literally talking about last season and not this season?
I don't think it has as much to do with ratings as it does the politically conservative climate. The shows that survived give a slightly more positive and less amoral slant towards reality. Those who don't understand Angel would look at its surface and assume it to be dark and pessimistic and anti-'family values.' That may or may not be the case, but I sincerely doubt the only deciding factor for Angel's cancellation was ratings. As for One Tree Hill being a newer series, Firefly was new and they killed that one too. The fact of the matter is, when Whedon gets a stage, he doesn't say things that those with power and influence want to hear.

Levin also wasn't the only one responsible for Whedon's recent removal from television. It's not so much a conspiracy as it is an attitude shift in the entertainment industry. Janet Jackson's boob was either a catalyst, or a straw that broke the camel's back. If there is a conspiracy, it's the conservative right-wing fears that humanity must be protected from its own tendencies to see life as less than rosy and pure. It's a mob mentality kinda conspiracy, which is worse than if we could just blame it on one recently removed executive like Levin. Or maybe if we could blame it on aliens or demons or some other crazy thing. The bottom line is it's fear of moral bankrupcy, that leads to censorship. It's a fear to take chances because those chances might offend somebody. And those somebodies watch commercials and buy products and please stockholders. So if you take a risk to offend somebody, it hurts their pocketbooks.

Whedon takes chances. Those with power and money don't like that. They like to invest in things they can control. Things that assure a profit margin. Risking offense of a portion of the audience demographic doesn't help their bottom line.
blwvessels, I think Angel was second highest in a particular demographic group for a WB show.
But wouldn't that still be good?
20 Century Fox developed Buffy and sold it to the WB. After awhile the WB didn't want to pay so much for Buffy anymore, so Fox distributed it to UPN instead. The same thing happened to Angel - Levin felt it wasn't worth paying Fox $$$$ for mediocre ratings, when he could probably finance a show with equal ratings thru Warner Brothers instead. No amount of demographic info could convince him that putting money in the pocket of a rival studio was a good idea. *shrug*

20th Century Fox developed Firefly and distributed it via FOX, which cancelled it. Afterwards, Universal Pictures asked Fox very nicely if they could please purchase the movie rights, and as a favor to Joss - knowing that their bad scheduling had killed his baby - Fox agreed. (So remember, that in addition to Serenity's budget, Universal also invested millions up front just to purchase the rights. Also remember that Fox still owns all the television rights, which means FF will never return to the small screen again.)

So no, Joss did not sacrifice Angel for Firefly. 20th Century Fox made a tidy sum by selling the movie rights for FF to Universal, and would have liked to continue making money by selling Angel to the WB or another network. Follow the money, and all of this makes more sense.
All I want to know is when Joss is going to announce some kind of deal with HBO. And another Fray comic series or TV adaptation.
I believe in regard to Firefly coming back to TV, Universal also now holds the TV rights to the property but is unable to put it back on the airwaves for either 3 or 5 years.
That wasn't a bad piece but the thing that caught my eye, and indeed should have caught the eye of everyone looking to bring Angel back in one form or another is Farscape and what we the fans of the show accomplished. It can be done.
Well you can look at ratings and demographics on so many ways that you can always make things look a certain way in a certain calculation. It always reminds me of those 'Most succseful movie' lists. How? By looking at budget vs profit, The Blair Witch is one of the all time most succesful movies. If you look at profit in sheer dollars, new movies will start beating old movies by inflation alone. Or do you look at number of tickets sold? But how many theaters were there in 1950 and how many now?

Here with TV shows you can show numbers which are dubious Nielsen numbers, compare them to other networks, same network last year, certain demogrpahics, comparing it to it's budget, etc. It's pretty relative. But if you look at it all in this article's way, the shows' current success compared to their own pasts, AtS was the most successful WB show....That is true and still a measure of success. It's a small consolation prize of pride I suppose.

But my main point is still that the WB put all these demands on ME for Angel S5, like "if you want to continue, you have to agree to things". And they DID agree. And they did everything they asked, and the ratings DID go up and where higher than ever. I still say they just needed to fill a gap when some of their new shows were cancelled, they wanted to reach the 100th ep for syncdication and no matter what, they never intended to go for a S6. And that was just nasty and misleading to the people making the show.

The WB is going more and more for sappy 'family/teen' oriented crap and Angel, being dark, daring and edgy didn't fit that.
Simon - You are correct about what Levin said.

Wren - That was an excellent summation of the situation.

Earlier, I was just trying to show that it wasn't that outrageous a decesion on the WBs part to cancel Angel. Disappointing, certainly.

It just seemed that lately everyone keeps shifting ratings info. or the blame for the cancellation in increasingly hyperbolic ways so I was hoping to bring a little perspective to the proceddings.
Zachs mind said: "It's a fear to take chances because those chances might offend somebody. And those somebodies watch commercials and buy products and please stockholders. So if you take a risk to offend somebody, it hurts their pocketbooks.

Whedon takes chances. Those with power and money don't like that. They like to invest in things they can control..."


should we tie all hollywood producers into chairs and make them watch "are you now or have you ever been?"
I've had conspiracy suspicions about the cancellation all along, but that's just because I feel sure someone on the board of directors at the WB must have disapproved of the political and social meta-terrain Angel has been exploring, especially in the last year or so, and dictated all those aforementioned S5 changes so it would fail and they'd be spared the public necessity of killing it and triggering the core viewership (and critical) furor that has resulted. But there's no proof of that. It's just a feeling I get from the general chilling of creative expression and the safe, timid tone of all network broadcast programming in the US since 9/11.

Ostensibly, ratings and revenue issues are the real reason AtS got the boot. Whatever. There's always more to everything than money, even when financial considerations are the stated bottom line. (Speaking of money, I'm sure Fox is upset their budding franchise was nipped in mid-bloom, but that doesn't mean the the series, as a living, vital entity, has ended. Although new episodes aren't currently in production, as more viewers catch on to the series via cable I think it's likely both Angel and Buffy will undergo a 'second wave' surge of underground popularity and increasing mainstream cultural resonance, similar to what ST:TOS experienced when it first appeared in reruns in the '70's. A whole new generation discovered it and fell in love, which, along with nostalgia from original ST fans, brought the first ST movie into being. That resonance is what the current ST empire is build on, and look how many series and films it's spawned. Even the X-Files has rated at least one motion picture, with another in the works.)

If Fox is smart, they'll try to keep a positive dialogue going with Joss as much as they can. The B/A-verse is going to be in greater demand as time goes on and that growing hunger remains unfed. Conceivably, they could recast all the show's characters and hire someone else to write and/or direct a film, but that's a recipe for disaster and they know it. If Serenity is successful, the chances get better that a big budget AtS/BtVS film may eventually make it to the big screen. The fact that Farscape fans are getting a mini-series, and the possibility of another show based around an original cast member, gives me hope that Angel fans could possibly reap some of the same rewards if we keep making noise and letting anyone who'll listen know we want more from this 'verse.

Fact is, the WB didn't understand what they had in either show. Maybe they're just beginning to understand now. Either way, they had something really rare, they pissed it away, and now they're just a deleted station number on my TV remote. They zapped my show out of existence? Fine. I'm only too happy to return the favor.

I'm keeping a little fire burning for a future Angel film. I can't wait for cowboys in space, but I'll always have a special spot for vampires with souls in my heart. :)
Good comments, all.

NOLA64, I too am expecting some kind of HBO gesture towards Joss. I've said before that Fray done like Aeon Flux of MTV's Liquid Television would be incredible. Go Melaka! Although I don't think MTV is suitable, most of Joss' writing would sail over their collective heads (the MTV demographic), but HBO would be fantastic.

I don't dare to imagine that a live action Fray would happen. But if it did, can't you just see all of us FREAKING OUT? The answer to our prayers while giving us brand spanking new Whedon. I'd be in heaven.
Holy Snap! Wouldn't FRAY be a great follow up Major Motion Picture for Mr. Whedon after Serenity breaks the $200 million mark? tasty....

I just wanted to say that i love all you guys and your comments, you are always spot on!
Everybody keeps fogetting a couple of basics that work in a capitalistic society. I gotta mention I'm a screaming liberal first, only because what I'm about to say may sound conservative. But in fact it is simply pro free will choice.

First of all--even though the overall numbers were up compared to last year--they fell almost a million from the beginning of the season. That kind of drop out can't be ignored. Season started with over five million. Outside the swell of the finale--they lost plenty over the course of the year--due mostly to the amoral plot lines. And ZachsMind is right. They were amoral. Pro or con they were--and people have a right to say 'no I don't wanna watch that.' It was good to hear those kind of questions being directed toward James at the Moonlight Rising convention. He admitted that he was aware of fans that had lost interest because of how Spike was being portrayed...whatever, yaddah, yaddah...been over that before...my point is this.

This station has a right to produce what they want. It's their money, their lookout, their buck, their dime for the time. Sure you can write letters, campiagn that's all great...but one must grant them the right to produce what they want on their dime. Holding your breath until you turn blue sounds like the arguement of a child.

I tell you what though--if you seriously don't like what is being broadcast--check out a class from your local cable access company. Every major city should charter one. Take some classes on production, using a camera, editing and then produce and film your own vid on digital video. It isn't as farfetched as you might imagine. The cost is very marginal. The service is designed for the public--so cost is kept low. I'm not being facietous. I suggest if it bothers you--use the mediums we have available in this country to put the stories you want on the air. A lot of cable stations are getting in trouble by this conservative administration and this is an area where we do have rights of free speach--to protect the medium designed for ALL free speech--even amoral. Whatever--they will broadcast just about anything as long as if fits the technical specs. Or write fanfic. I've done both of those things--and it is very satisfying to express yourself. And to get positive feedback from total strangers who saw a 30 min Doc I did, that was broadcast three times total. You might be surprised at the impact you could have. Everyone who posts on these sites is passionate about some aspect of storytelling. I say use it.

One thing for sure--you do nothing and nothing will happen. You put your hope and fate in the hands of a corporation and nothing will happen.

Do something, get your story out there. How can anyone seriously expect a corporation to do what is againest their best interests? It's like drafting pro ball players onto the Olympic team. Hey! There was a reason they went pro. It was to make money. I don't fault them for saying 'no' It is their right.

But there are ways to tell your story--preserve the public stations and cable public acceses so we can continue and even 'up' the expectations of the public by demonstrating what can be done with such vehicles. We may be forced to use the internet and public access to tell these kinds of stories--but that may be good too--because that means we will be taking care of our needs ourselves. Not always looking to Joss or a corporation who doesn't care about us to do it for us.

You want someone to come in and tell you what you should do with your bank account?

The road goes both ways.

They had a right to cancel the show...it was THIER show.

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