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"We totally Shadowcatted! Chase is gona be so jealous!"
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March 18 2005

How's the WB doing? The futon critic takes a look at the network in a year-to-year comparison of ratings and finds that on Wed night at 9pm, Jack & Bobby had a 41% drop and Big Man On Campus had a 61% drop in viewership compared to Angel last year.

Just thought I'd add some more cheery news.

Nevertheless, if a show is down 30% in total viewers from last season, it's a fair assumption it's taken a nose dive in those demographics as well.

Overall in terms of the dramas, the network has shown it's willing to walk away from its high profile "buzzed about" projects that aren't up to snuff ("Lost In Space," "Global Frequency" and "Dark Shadows" from last development season) so it's anyone's guess which pilots will make the cut.

Funny in a season that on other networks has embraced the outside of mainstream shows like "Lost" and "Medium", the WB choose to axe those shows that were not your typical formula TV. They seem to as of late find themselves out of step with viewers are watching.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Wait a second ... the WB were never that mighty in the first place. They have pretty much just been riding the wave of having Joss Whedon connected to their network almost since day one and are now realising that when you betray your one truly creative show maker and his fans you will soon pay the price.

Shame! :)
And what's even sadder is that Jack & Bobby, with its 41% drop, is a rating improvement over 'The Mountain'. It made no sense to cancel Angel and it would appear they are still on their same course to oblivion. It will be interesting to see which shows they pick up next season. Perhaps the bloody nose they received in this season's ratings dive may wake them up.
Funny in a season that on other networks has embraced the outside of mainstream shows like "Lost" and "Medium", the WB choose to axe those shows that were not your typical formula TV. They seem to as of late find themselves out of step with viewers are watching.

Yeah, but for every "Lost", there's a "Point Pleasant". Just because a show is 'outside the mainstream' doesn't mean it's 'good.'
I second PMMJ. Dark Shadows sounded like a dud from the get-go, though I had a lot of hope for Global Frequency. The fact remains: WB ditched an established show like Angel for....well, a bunch of crap.
If you ever see The WB try to blame this season's poor ratings on the decision-making of the old regime, keep in mind that the only person who got fired was Jordan Levin. All the people who were there before are still there now. All the people who didn't lift a finger to save Angel then, are still there. All the people who haven't lifted a finger toward getting the tv movies, are still there. It's the same network warts and all. It's the same network I won't be watching.
Yeah, but for every "Lost", there's a "Point Pleasant". Just because a show is 'outside the mainstream' doesn't mean it's 'good.'

Still, its good to see them wander outside the mainstream. While it doesn't guarantee that it will be good, its nice to see. At the same time, I worry that we will end up with a bunch of 'formula' 'outside the mainstream' stuff. Leave it to Hollyweird to invent a formula for the non-formulaic.
Well so WB ain't doing so good any more, we still lost.
Well, with this newest 20/20 hindsight, I wonder what it was that Angel did not do for the WB???
I was watching SMALLVILLE because it came on before ANGEL. Go figure. With the unfair cancellation of ATS, I watch LOST and don't watch any WB shows, at all.
Well so WB ain't doing so good any more, we still lost.

Yeah, but the WB had a pay a hefty price to win.
I'm with Simon...there's nothing to gloat about here.

Also, "outside the mainstream" is meaningless without good writing, acting, and direction. Similarly, "mainstream" can be excellent provided there's that same trio of qualities.

If you told me about a cop show comedy, with a Jewish captain and his wacky, multi-ethnic crew (including Ron Glass of "Firefly" as a fussy, clothes-crazed detective), and the wild and crazy people they arrest, I'd have told you I'd never watch it. But the writing, acting and directing were superb, and "Barney Miller" is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.

On the other hand, "Charmed", to name but one "outside the mainstream" show, is, for me, utterly unwatchable.
That's the point, killinj. No one won. The WB lost fans and we lost Angel. Kinda' of a stalepoint now. What to do (productive)?
And killinj, I don't mean to dump this question on you. I'm putting it towards the room.
The WB lost fans and we lost Angel. Kinda' of a stalepoint now. What to do (productive)?

Honestly? I'd move on. Right now, the Buffyverse as a TV concept is dead. A large of fans have moved onto new fandoms, a lot of Buffyverse sites have shut up shop. The actors have got new projects be it pilots, guest starring on shows or even starring in movies. The writers too have gone onto bigger, though not necessarily better, things.

Joss wants to write and direct movies for the seeable future. Buffy ended the way he wanted it to end, Angel got cancelled before its time but he gave our hero and his friends a fitting send off.

Maybe we'll see some sort of spin off in ten years time. But it will happen only because Joss wants to come back to television. When he's ready to come back.
Well, my plan is to continue supporting Joss, the writers, cast and crew of the shows we love. I'll keep track of what they're doing here on Whedonesque. Watch whatever new projects come out featuring any of the writers or actors. You know, all the stuff we're doing now.

My itty bitty little Multimedia Project is all about supporting the people who brought these great shows to life. I want more people to see them in hopes that new fans will also begin to follow their careers as everyone moves on with future projects.

I don't know that there's anything I can do to help bring back the 'verse, but I think there are things fans can do to keep seeing the people who gave us the 'verse. All I know is I'd like to see more of them, whether its in a new Whedon production or something else entirely.
I totally agree with Simon. For now the 'verse is over and people have moved on. Someday, if Joss wants to bring it back in some form or another, whether it's a spin-off with existing characters or some new show with new characters would be great but if he doesn't, I am looking forward to anything he has to offer whether it's on the big screen or small.

I'm thrilled to see a lot of the actors out there getting promising work and thrilled to see them spreading their wings.

Also, I'm glad that Joss has done other thing besides BtVS and AtS. If he had been totally absorbed in just that we'd never have had the pleasure of discovering Firefly and there would never be a Serenity movie to look forward too.

I will always love and cherish the Buffyverse and I will affectionatly re-watch my dvds over and over again but it will be nice to see what Joss, SMG, DB, JM, AH, AD and the rest of them have to show us with their future projects.
I'm like Xander. I have to blame someone. I'll never watch the WB again except of course for that one exception.

[ edited by charisma on 2005-03-19 01:31 ]
I agree the 'verse is gone from TV for the time being, and possibly for good. However, being the vindictive bastard that I see plenty here to gloat about. At least they're suffering as a channel for their incredibly dumb and short-sighted decision. Which manages to give me some form of grim satisfaction in which I wallow as the cold, cold comfort it is.
Oh, I'm also definitely gloating over all this! The WB shot themselves in the foot when the canceled Angel. It seems to me that the Angel fanbase was watching other shows on the network because of Angel and because of the WBs total disregard of that fanbase, they've lost viewers for just about all their shows. I don't think it's a coincidence at all.
I'm sorry for the rant, Simon. Moving on :)
I'm not sure if this is something to gloat about but I'm also not sure if the decision to kill Angel was in any way vindictive or even stupid. At the time, WB was facing a financial situation: how to fill up the same time as previous seasons by using less money? Cheaper production options like 'reality' television gameshows seemed more appealing, or programs that claimed to offer drama as good as Angel but with less special effects and more mainstream soap-opera-like storylines that a broader audience would like. On paper, I'm sure their decisions made sense. The truth will out, however, and the WB's decisions have not led to more profit for less money. They're in worse shape now than they were before.

But this is not a problem solely facing the WB. Granted, because they're comparatively new, FOX and UPN suffer similar problems. In fact the entire television industry is facing the reality that television ratings are not depicting facts realistically enough for most advertisers. There's not as much money coming to TV as it used to, because advertisers are wising up. With the inclusion of satelite TV, cable, TIVO, Internet downloads, DVD sales and a number of other factors, a "nielsen rating share" means less today than it used to mean. Personally I don't think it ever really meant what the TV industry convinced advertisers that it did mean. Millions of viewers watching a given tv show means millions of viewers watch that show's commercials? Hardly. That's the time when millions of viewers, in unison, get up and go to the kitchen, or the bathroom, or they change the channel.

Who actually watches commercials? If I have to be in a room when a commercial's on, I try to tune it out. I dork on the computer or talk to people in the room with me or get work done around the house, so at best the advertisers are getting me on some subconscious level. Apparently, some do actually watch commercials. In fact some enjoy commercials as much as they enjoy shows, but this is a minority of viewers. So a million viewers for a tv show means less than one hundred thousand viewers actually watching your ad. Why would any advertiser pay inflated prices for time on a show that isn't getting Super Bowl ratings?

I tried last year to find proof that Joss Whedon was getting blacklisted in the television industry, and I couldn't even find rumors or leaks pointing in that direction. We're talking about an industry where if a William Morris Agency executive says off the cuff that he thinks Sarah Michelle Gellar's nose is too big, we'll hear about it, so the fact there was such silence in the area of Whedon being blacklisted means either a lot of people actively sought to keep evidence towards that concept quiet - which means a conspiracy of absure proportions, OR the more probable answer which means there was no conspiracy to push Joss Whedon out of the boob toob. So, why'd it happen?

You gotta follow the money, or in this case, the lack thereof. Mutant Enemy was making good television, but it wasn't television that was knocking the socks off advertisers or whoever calculates that ratings crap. It was quality television towards an intelligent demographic - a demographic of people who don't like being categorized as a demographic, and for a large part are too smart to consciously let advertising subvert their common sense and cause them to go buy stuff. We would consciously support advertisers who support stuff we want to watch, but not in numbers that allow corporate executives to buy that second boat.

Whedon and Mutant Enemy became too expensive for television. We're talking about an industry that is tempted by the idea of reality television because you don't have to hire your lead talent. You have to hire one guy as a host for a fraction of the price of a regular actor, then your 'contestants' are each vying for a paycheck. They are paid for their time, but it's way below SAG scale, and you only have to pay one of them a check with a lot of zeroes after it. As terrible as most reality shows are, if they get ANY ratings at all, they'll probably turn up a profit.

Compare that to Buffy, Angel and Firefly, all of which had an ensemble of acting talent getting paid way over scale, and a writing staff that was being paid competitively, and set designers and producers and effects people and all kindsa behind the scenes people. Any one episode costs more to make than The Amazing Race promises one of their couples at the end of a season.

Further, the salaries of any one major actor in shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Fraiser, or Everybody Loves Raymond was more in their last seasons than the cost of an entire episode in their first seasons. So it is not financially in any network's best interests to keep a show alive more than five seasons. The longer a show lasts on the air, the more the acting talent can demand in terms of salary, because the more of those people watching actually paying attention to ads to support the people they like to see on the air.. You see the complexities here? The ironies? We think perhaps even the stupidities, because if they kept these shows alive, networks COULD convince advertisers to pay more money for time..! I mean if Seinfeld was still on the air today, they might could compete with the superbowl for ad costs. In fact that last episode of Seinfeld was pretty darn expensive for advertisers, but that's just the problem. Advertisers can't afford to do that all the time, so when the price exceeds the demand, you gotta cut some shows and replace them with shows where advertisers CAN pay.

So this isn't a time for us to gloat. It's a time for us to mourn for television as it once was. Not only may we never see the likes of Buffy, Angel or Firefly on television ever again. We may never see anything remotely resembling that level of quality television ever again. The gravy train has run outta steam.

All this said, I personally don't watch WB, UPN or FOX much anymore, if at all. Those networks don't care about me. I don't actively keep track of which advertisers support which programs, and I don't have a Nielsen box. As far as they're concerned, I'm a nonperson, and as far as I'm concerned, they're not really television. So we mutually ignore each other. I'm not vindictive about avoiding them though. I'm disappointed. Television networks have a responsibility to push the envelope and keep the industry viable. WB, UPN and FOX have failed to push that envelope, and riding on waning inertia only means you eventually slow painfully to a stop.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2005-03-19 11:58 ]
Madhatter what you said wasn't a rant, so don't worry about it.

What I said wasn't directed to you in particular. It's been something brewing up inside for me ages and I had to say it. It's a whole ball park these days.
Things is, Simon, that some of us are a little too invested in the slayerverse, probably more than we should be for our own good but there it is.

I watch very little television at all. I lost interest in pretty much every show i used to watch in my teen years when i discovered girls and since then it has taken a hell of a lot to get me in front of the box again. I still watch Highlander, which will always be a favourite television concept of mine, but since Buffy there has only been a handful of tv shows that get me to sit and watch. Stargate, Farscape, 24, Alias and Carnivale are the entire list of shows that i consider worth my time at the moment.

What is more, if i'm truthful i wouldn't be so adamant about getting any of them back on television as i am the slayerverse. I would love to see a fifth Highlander movie or even a proposed spinoff, but if they never happen then so be it. I was glad to see some completion to Farscape but i'm now happy to let that show end. If Alias doesn't return next season i'll be disappointed but i won't particularly care so much.

The slayerverse is a far different animal though. It has truly drawn me in to it's mythology in a way that no other fictional concept has managed to do (and i'm somebody that actually used to follow the oh so convoluted X-Files colonisation arc). I want to know more about the wealth of creatures that exist within ther slayerverse because there is so much more to tell. Tho Old Ones, the Watchers, the slayers, the Senior Partners and the apocalypse that we know so little about, what is leading up to Fray happening. All of this still can be developed so much further that it would be a crime to put it on hold for ten or so years in the way you suggest. I mean, without wanting to sound extremely pessimistic, in this day and age who is to say any of us have ten years left anyway? Okay that did sound too pessismistic didn't it! But you get my point i hope. :)

All i'm saying is that, for some of us the slayerverse is a hell of a lot more than just a television show that we can replace with the next popular show. I've already found Carnivale and hopefully i'll eventually find something else to get interested in, but that will never be to replace the slayerverse, it is way too unique to ever be replaced. That is why it is so impossible to just let it go.

With all due respect to you, Simon, you don't know for a fact that the slayerverse is dead and that Joss won't be ready to return to television for ten years or so. Even Joss doesn't know what he will be ready for next year, none of us do. We make decisions on a daily basis, based on the information we have on that particular day. Who knows whether or not our dedication to the slayerverse will influence Joss to want to get back to it next season, or at least allow somebody else to run a show with his supervision.

We may very well be wasting our time and breath in pushing for this but i'd rather do that then let it die simply because i gave up too easily. I just love the slayerverse too much to do that.
Zachsmind said:

So this isn't a time for us to gloat. It's a time for us to mourn for television as it once was. Not only may we never see the likes of Buffy, Angel or Firefly on television ever again. We may never see anything remotely resembling that level of quality television ever again. The gravy train has run outta steam.

Maybe to mourn network television as it once was. Cable is doing just fine though. Seriously folks, cancel your network TV subscriptions (or at least any extra extensions that allow you to get some of the package deals of channels that you never watch) and invest in HBO, FX, maybe even Showtime. There's good stuff on there. Genre-TV even. Not as much as I'd like, but if I can find several good dramas and the occasional comedy and maybe a couple genre shows (like Carnivale for example), I'm pretty happy.

ABC's an exception, but who knows how far and for how long Lost and Desperate Housewives will carry them ratings- and (depending on your tastes) creativity-wise. If they spawn some daring pilots that get picked up and commissioned as series for next fall, I'll assume network TV has still got a lot of life in it yet. And anyway, this could just be a phase, as others have suggested in previous threads. We may be in store for good TV again in a few year's time, maybe more than a few years. But things'll swing back our way eventually. TV was never all that excellent to begin with, save for a scant few well made shows in the `80s. The early-to-mid `90s, but especially the late `90s, changed all that and there seems to have been a creative explosion for a while there. Plus cable really came into its own with the first few mega-hits (I think Oz may've been the first critically-lauded HBO drama, though I'm not sure it got very popular outside of its core audience. It seemed to be The Sopranos and Sex & The City that got subscription cable noticed). If I were to make a wager, it'd be that network TV isn't dead. It's just, um...asleep most of the time lately. Yeah. At any rate, it needs to evolve. The Nielsen ratings system should be the first thing to go.
Agreed, Kris. Also wanted to throw my support in behind Deadwood. Again. ;)

The absolute best thing to come out of my box, not belonging to Joss. New episode tomorrow night!
Ah, almost forgot I have the first two episodes of Season 2 recorded. Should watch those tonight...

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