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February 02 2005

New on DVD: Whatever show you didn't watch last year. The Inside, Firefly, Greg The Bunny, Tru Calling, Wonderfalls and more. Fox's genius programming analysed in the wonderful tone of sarcasm!

I love the author of this article!

"Had it (Firefly) appeared on a Monday night it would have disappeared without a trace after only nine or ten excellent, groundbreaking seasons."

I enjoyed that. Brightened up my lunch break.
"But Fox's crowning glory is "Firefly," the poster child for malicious programming."
Good line!

Very nice article. But that might be because it says everything I feel about FOX. :)
Oh, thank sweet zombie jesus for the pleasure of vicarious cynicism:

"The Inside" is being produced by Tim Minnear, co-producer and writer for such weird and wonderful shows as "Angel" (canceled too soon), "Firefly" (canceled even sooner), and "Wonderfalls" (canceled almost before the opening credits). So you know he'll bring some familiar faces to both sides of the camera and it'll be witty, surprisingly dramatic, and almost impossible to describe.

See? Doomed.

Thanks for posting this one!
And the really sad thing? No matter how ludicrous most of the things stated in this article sound, every word is true. That really is how the big six television networks in the U.S. run things. Bah!
The general theme of the article above, concerning the current battle between interesting, scripted genre series and cheap reality drivel, reminded me of a similar one i saw yesterday at SyFy Portal.

It mentions Fox but more importantly it discusses how the Sci Fi Channel is currently putting more and more faith and support into original scripted drama series such as Battlestar Galactica and the Stargate series.

Is it just me or does this seem like the perfect home for a revival of the slayerverse in a new series or mini series format? They gladly accepted an established series and fanbase when they took over the Stargate franchise and then went ahead with the Atlantis spinoff. They were even willing to give a home to the Farscape mini series despite being responsible for it's initial cancellation.

With that in mind is it too hard to imagine them being willing to support a Faith or Spike series at some point in the next couple of seasons? Just a thought.
If Sci Fi picked up a Buffyverse series, I'd not only loyally watch that series, but I'd loyally watch many others on the network. I often watch Sci Fi when clicking through the channels if nothing else is on ... so I've seen lots of StarGate and a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica already.
Speaking of cancelled shows, apparently there will be an announcement today that Enterprise is cancelled.
You have no idea how many times I had to rewrite that column to keep it from sounding bitter.

I was highly amused at the changing rankings for "Wonderfalls" at Amazon, though. Sunday it was around #33. Monday night it was #12. Tuesday (when I was writing it) I kept going back to watch it edge upwards one by one... Me, I want to know the reactions of FOX executives responsible for mistreating and cancelling shows that go on to win acclaim and movie deals. Embarassed? Resigned? Shackled to a stone wall somewhere down in Marketing?
Hi Chris, thanks for a very witty article and for posting here :)
Head explodes.
Hi Chris - I think I can safely say we're all secretly hoping for that third option to be the winner.

Thanks for such a great article!
Hey Chris, just seconding the thanks for the really entertaining article.

Simon, i have to admit that i'm conflicted on the Enterprise news. I can't say that i really loved the first three seasons but they had been gradually improving, if a little too slowly. I was actually looking forward to the fourth season, especially as they were including so many connections to the original Star Trek.

Whilst i see the cancellation as pretty much inevitable, and for once i can't honestly blame the network, they have little or no choice given the figures, i still can't help but wish they would give them another chance in a fair (any night other than Friday that is) timeslot. I just feel like the Star Trek franchise deserves more consideration than this. I may not be as big a fan as i once was but i can't help feeling that it deserves better than it is getting.

It's almost as if things have come full circle with Enterprise getting the same treatment that the original show did. Kind of ironic then that, if Enterprise does end this year, it and the original show will have the same number of seasons combined as the three other series lasted individually.
Firefly and Wonderfalls were canceled because they weren't scoring big enough ratings out of the gate.

I don't understand the point of telling people to not bother watching The Inside because you think it will just get canceled. It's like a sucker punch.

I think The Inside will be fine, unless, of course, people are encouraged to NOT watch it, which is what this article says. People are already gun shy about FOX, the key is to make sure lots of people tune in if you're so sure that it's going to be brilliant.
Allyson, I don't think that was the intention of the article. I don't think you have to worry about people on Whedonesque being discouraged from watching it anyway, everyone seems pretty excited about it. It's Tim, we love Tim!

Thanks also to Chris for your posting here.
Actually I was telling people not to fight for its return, which is slightly different and a touch premature (I hope.) I write a humor column and was ladling on the sarcasm with a heavy hand.
I understand it's supposed to be tongue in cheek.

But it also ignores Arrested Development and House. It would seem that FOX has turned a corner, and I plan to meet them half way.

I'm not all Save Our Show about anything anymore, haven't been since Firefly. I'm more about Watch Our Show, because when it's on the air, that's the time to rally up an audience through word-of-mouth.
Thanks, Chris, for the article. There are several memorable lines -- but I have to say that the Firefly "poster child" line is my favorite.

And I'd like to add my thanks to you for posting here.
I wondered if you lurked here Chris, cause I thought it was funny that someone else besides me would have checked Amazon's daily sales total. :)

Allyson don't forget AD is a comedy as cheaper to produce as for 'House' - can I just say 'Tru Calling', anyone. It was lucky enough to pull through 18 episodes of it's first season and it even got renewed and filmed 6 episodes, but then cancelled and right now the only way to see the unaired episodes is to move to New Zealand.

Although,I kinda beg to differ on Chris' opinion on Tim's curse. He was also part of the 'X-files' and 'The Inside' is not drifting into uncharted territory, anyone remember the NBC show 'The Profiler'.
"The X-Files" was the rare exception to the Friday Night Curse, but it didn't really take off until it was moved to Sunday nights.
"Arrested Development" is a great example of what happens when a network sticks by a show. During the first season, average viewership was 6.18 million, and that was with the crowds that hung around after "Malcolm." But FOX kept it in place and renewed it for a second season. A quote from FOX person Gail Berman:

"We know it's had a modest run so far in terms of audience appreciation -- critical acclaim has been extraordinary -- and we hope to see that build in the same vein of 'Seinfeld' and 'Everybody Loves Raymond,'" Berman says. "We know some of these new shows take time and we'd like to see this show achieve the success of those."

Funny. There was a fair bit of critical acclaim for other shows that didn't get such thoughtful support. Perhaps people here could think of a few...
Yeah, The Inside sounds like an easier sell than any other series Tim Minear's recently been involved in, much more likely to attract and hook (if it's good) mainstream viewers. I'm looking forward to checking it out, but it depends on what life's like in a month when it premieres. It's so much easier to just wait for the DVD and not risk living through yet another heartbreaking experience of getting invested in a show then having it canceled prematurely. 'Cause see, if I do watch and the series is short-lived, I will have had little effect on its success (Canadian, and I don't have this country's equivalent of the Nielsen box, plus I only post on a couple message boards so I doubt I'll have encouraged a significant number of people to check it out). So it's almost like you may as well not watch. If the series is short-lived, you have a little, affordable unfortunate gem to check out on DVD in a year's time. Presumably less heartbreak 'cause it'd be over and done with sooner viewing it on disc, than following it from week-to-week and waiting for the axe to fall. If the series survives and goes on to have a healthy 5-season run, I can treat it like 24 and Oz and watch it as the releases roll in.

Network TV is just not worth the risk anymore. I only check out new shows on cable now, and even then only HBO and FX, since Showtime's not a sure thing either and I've been burned a few times there. Er, this is effective more recently, 'cause I did try out Lost and Desperate Housewives and love them, but Lost I had recorded for a few weeks before the hype convinced me it'd be around at least a season, then I let myself get into it. I think I was just home and bored the night DH premiered, so it was a nice surprise. ABC's having an awesome revival year. If they champion interesting, scripted drama (even if it's disguised for the average viewer as easy-to-digest pap), and continue to be successful with it, maybe I'll change my mind about the networks in the next couple years.
Thanks Chris! That was a great article. Made my day!
Thank you Chris for that article and for posting here. It's made my day less dreary. Thanks again!
Here in the UK there are tales of the games traffic cops get up to, such as 'car snooker' (You stop a red car, then a colour car, then a red car..) so I'm suddenly wondering if there's some sort of private game that network execs play, such who can cancel a show before the first comercial break, or a 'dare' game where other suits pick a fantastic show and say "Cancel that, and justify it, or run naked down Sunset!" as all the others stand around in a drunken group chanting "CAN-CEL! CAN-CEL! CAN-CEL!"

Or is it just me?
No one can be blamed for championing Tim Minear's work. I'd watch The Inside, if it were on another network. But I refuse to be drawn into a new exciting show that has a high likelihood of being shown the back door right after it starts airing on Friday nights on F*x. And I guess the point is moot since I'm not a resident of the U.S.
Lovely lovely sarcasm. With just a hint of bitterness. Thanks for the article. My favourite line?
"Plus you get truckloads of mail, which really saves on the heating bills."
Thanks for the article, that was really funny. And so true.

I am with Kris on the ‘wait for the DVD’ approach. This may also be the ‘cut off your nose despite your face’ approach, but then I neither live in the States nor am a research household here, so quite frankly, who cares.

Usually I am far too busy catching up with my DVD rental list anyway to watch much TV and I can’t be bothered to sit through the ads any longer. There probably is a quiet revolution in viewing habits going on. I have for example even given the new series of 24 that has just started over here a miss, although I like the show. I’ll just wait for the whole thing to come out later. Alternatively, now that prices of DVD recorders have come down drastically since before Christmas, I might get myself one of those, but I am still wavering, as I am not even sure I need one.

Then again, I might just be the tip of iceberg, this was in Forbes today:

“News Corp. reported an 80 percent jump in net profits for the last three months of 2004, driven by big gains in home video sales at its Twentieth Century Fox film studio and also higher income at its Fox News Channel and other cable networks.

The gains came despite a poor showing in the fall at the company's broadcast network Fox, which suffered a decline in ratings following the baseball season.”

If you are interested, check out the rest of the article here
Hi, Chris! As you can see, you definitely hit a chord with everyone here! Great article, and enjoyed your posts a lot. Looking forward to The Inside now, as it sounds like it deserves championing!
Drifter i agree with you but if everybody thought that way then no one would watch The Inside, the reason the suits drop shows cause of low ratings and not watching it sorta plays into that.

[ edited by back_to_Gunn on 2005-02-02 20:53 ]
There probably is a quiet revolution in viewing habits going on.
Funny - i've wondered the same thing before. I like 24 for instance, and thought about tuning in to the new season this year, but I'm just not around enough to watch much TV as it airs, much less to keep up with a demanding (of the audience, in terms of plotlines) show like 24 from week to week. Especially since many of the shows play better on quick DVD viewing anyhow, IMO.
I still watch some shows – Lost and Veronica Mars, at the moment – and even tape them when i wont' be around, but I can only manage that devotion to one or two shows. Otherwise, I just figure I'll wait for DVD. I'm watching season 1 of the Wire right now, and honestly, I can't quite imagine seeing the episodes spread out over 13 weeks.

Thanks for the article, Chris - as others have said, it was a great, crisp, funny read. I loved the heating bill line. and the closing suggestion.
Allyson, I actually didnt' take the article at all as a suggestion that people not watch the Inside – quite the reverse. Through the sarcasm and the biting humor, the message that came through, to me at least, was: you should all know about this upcoming show, the Inside - it's going to be great, no matter what the Fox execs decide to do.
I've been told in several places that I've overreacted about this, though, I'm not really convinced. I should take to heart the opinion of folks I like.

Minear is spelled with one "n" for future reference. Show is scary, not so much quirky.

[ edited by Allyson on 2005-02-02 21:34 ]
Allyson mentioned House, and I'd just like to say that my fingers are crossed that the show doesn't get cancelled. It's ratings have apparently improved considerably given the lead in from American Idol, and it scored it's highest viewing figures yet with last weeks episode. Hopefully they can keep it up, because it's a great show.

RavenU compared it to Tru Calling, but House's central concept isn't at all as specific and constricting as Tru Calling's was. It's about doctors helping a patient, and there are any number of directions each episode could take. It's hardly like committing yourself to a Repeating Day conceit, and would be better compared to any number of murder mystery shows that have been on the air.

A repeating day is a high concept that very quickly gets old and repetitive, since every episode is revolving around the exact same plot device being used over and over again. With House, they have the same room for new directions and ideas that, for example, a very popular show like CSI does. Except the writers on House appear to have the good sense to give their characters more depth.
Oops, the misspelling did get through. Thanks! Just fixed it.

And if you read it that way I'm sure others did as well, and I need to hear about it.

However, while it may be scary, I submit that anything with Adam Baldwin in it could be classified as "quirky." Also one of the main reasons I'll be watching it...
But I refuse to be drawn into a new exciting show that has a high likelihood of being shown the back door right after it starts airing on Friday nights on F*x.

My philosophy is that it's better to have loved and lost a show, then to have never loved it at all. I also know how fandom bitterness has a domino effect. So many people are already boycotting Fox and won't watch new shows on the network because of the cancellation of Firefly. This sentiment influences other people on the internet, and possibly in the real world.

For things to change, we need to do our part in watching and supporting creative, intelligent programs on all networks. My goal as a self-proclaimed Quality Television Activist is to get other people interested in televsion again. Most of the people I know hate TV but I've been turning them around with Buffy.

I think I've had a positive effect on the people who read my LJ. When we find out on the official release date, I'm gonna make everyone watch The Inside if I have to beat them up to do it!
“You have no idea how many times I had to rewrite that column to keep it from sounding bitter.”

Have you ever lurked here when the subject turns to the WB? We know the bitter of which you speak.

I interpret this article as a good hard sarcastic poke at Fox, not a calll to give up on "The Inside" before it's even aired.
I think there’s more to it than not pre-empting a series or playing ‘find the timeslot’ with it. It’s letting viewers know a show exists in the first place. I didn’t watch anything on ABC, but it seemed like I couldn’t turn around without seeing a promo for “Lost” or “Desperate Housewives” months before they aired. Even though my reaction to each varied from “no thanks” (Lost) to “avoid” (Desperate Housewives), I checked out the pilot episodes anyway. What happened to me? Was I brainwashed? “Lost” is an enjoyable puzzle and “Desperate Houswives” is a guilty pleasure, but I would trade them both in a split second for “Firefly”. What evil whim or quirk of fate makes executives stand by a show with a “modest run” like “Arrested Development” and sweep “Wonderfalls” under the rug?

I still check out new things like “Veronica Mars” or “Battlestar Galactica”, but I think a combination of my acceptance of the transient nature of TV these days and not finding anything as special as “Buffy’ or “Angel” spares me any heartbreak when something gets canned.

I will still be checking out “The Inside”, however, and hoping for the best for all involved.
This writer is after my heart. Very nice read.
Simon was right, Sci Fi Wire are not "UPN and Paramount Network Television jointly announced Feb. 2 that its low-rated Star Trek: Enterprise has been canceled after five seasons."

This is the 4th season, not fifth :)

I do think that Enterprise has been a lot better since the end of s2 but I'm still not going to lose any sleep over this news.
Well I haven't seen the fourth season but I read that the show was starting to get back to Star Trek's original roots and it had improved greatly.

It's a shame but compared to the likes of Battlestar Galactica, Enterprise (especially it's first two seasons) was blown out of the water.
What a great article! I so agree with you, to cancel great shows way too early seems to be Fox's company motto.
What's killing me about "House" is that if its ratings improve, it'll most likely suck them away from "Veronica Mars." I love both series (VM especially), and I want both to survive; I get the sickening feeling NEITHER will.
Painfully funny stuff. Thanks for saying mean things about FOX, Chris; that never gets old (and I am not being sarcastic).

Despite my immense trust issues with them I'll be checking out The Insider, because it's Tim. It's not like I need another show right now -- in the absence of an Angel or otherwise rivetingly original JW-flava genre series, I'm fine passing the time with Lost and Veronica Mars -- but the scintillating allure of a Whedon- verse writer known for crafting things of clever brilliance is too enticing to resist.

Now if the execs can just concentrate on promoting it worth a crap, and let him do his stuff, maybe I won't be quite so convinced they've cornered the market on hive-mind stupidity. Just this once.
Very funny article.

As far as I understand, the only people that counts in the TV business is the few Nielsen viewers, they decide for the rest of us which shows will survive and which will be cancelled.

If you are a Nielsen viewer you have a moral responsibility to watch Whedon related shows all the time including all repeats and nothing else.
The rest of us can watch whatever we want cause no one cares, (but buying DVD's are always a good thing :).
That was probably the best article I have ever read! How TRU it is! Thanks Chris
Again, more praise for Chris!
Here's hoping articles like yours, and also F*x's (it's like a swear word!) DVD sales will cause them to rethink the way they run thier programming, or at least fire the guy they have doing it now!
Oh, and just to add a comment from that Forbes article.

"DVD sales from movies and TV shows have become a windfall for several major studios, particularly through outlets like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Those sales now make up about half of News Corp.'s filmed entertainment revenues", chief operating officer Peter Chernin said in a conference call with reporters.

Hmmmmm, now what a surprise? Half of News Corp.'s filmed entertainment revenues!
That is quite a stake! (and not the Mr Pointy kind)
Maybe with that kind of clout we could actually get some changes????
Yes, I wonder what kind of shows are selling the most in the stores. Survivor Season One, the Bachelor Uncut? Yeah, count on it.
What impressed me was that Wal-Mart carries the Firefly set as regular stock. Considering they only carry what sells, I'd say it's doing pretty well.

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