In the fall of 2009, there seemed to be an endless number of continued and new television shows Shooter Jr and I were looking forward to watching. Eighteen months later, it is a very different landscape on our DVR and TV Guide. Granted, there are still some great shows left but there a quite a few empty holes that will be difficult to replace. In the wake of the SyFy cancellations of Caprica and Stargate Universe in late 2010, I find myself wondering if ABC's V will be able to survive for another season in the 2011-2012 timeframe.
The Stargate Universe cancellation hit me hard. To date my official response to the SGU news was and will continue to be "nuts." The Stargate franchise was very close to supplanting the Star Trek franchise as the most favorite franchise to me ever. Eventually, Stargate may yet be able to attain that status with me. And I even realize that SGU was a slow starter and a dark Battlestar Galactica clone, but just when the storyline was finding itself and presenting an overarching Stargate-Ancient theme and plot, the series and franchise was ripped out from underneath us. I had thought that SyFy would have been able to continue its (arguably) best performing television franchise even with low ratings, especially with the main storyline change. I was wrong, and because I was wrong about SGU, I now am questioning whether any high budget science fiction type television show can survive in today's entertainment climate.
The list of canceled scifi-type television shows over the last two years is long. Some of them off the top of my head are Heroes, Caprica, Stargate Universe, Knight Rider, Life on Mars, Defying Gravity, Dollhouse, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Flash Forward, and Flash Gordon. Admittedly, the quality of these shows varied from poor to fantastic and some of them were doomed to cancellation no matter what the circumstances. But that is still a lot of shows to not be renewed. I haven't researched the numbers to compare the total number of shows canceled versus the number of scifi-type shows canceled, however, I do know that there are a lot more scifi shows to cancel than when I was growing up (late 80's to mid 90's).
Also, there are a lot of geek shows still on television. Some of those shows off the top of my head are Haven, V, Chuck, Big Bang Theory, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Eureka, Burn Notice, Dr. Who, Venture Bros, the Walking Dead, and Futurama. All of those shows are on my DVR list on both of my DVRs, but I miss having a true space based scifi show. Unless V takes us off Earth to the V home world, I just don't even see any opportunity to have a true space battle in the coming years save the Battlestar Galactica prequel Blood and Chrome.
So basically, the only show of the spaceship genre left with future possibilities in the winter/spring of 2011 is V. V is currently airing on ABC, the same network that canceled Flash Forward and Defying Gravity. Additionally, since V did not air in the fall of 2010 there are no recent ratings to really figure out of V will pull viewers from its previous season. In it's first season, V debuted to 14.3 million US viewers in the fall of 2009 and fell to 5.8 million US viewers by the end of the first treason in May 2010 despite being aired immediately after the hit show Lost. And at the time I'm writing this blog post V has not yet aired in 2011. But on the heals of SyFy's cancellations of Caprica and SGU as well as last year's ABC cancellations of Flash Forward and Defying Gravity, I am going into V's new season as cautiously optimistic.
Will V stay around? Do you have comments about the list of geek/scifi shows canceled in the last two years? Is there room for big budget scifi/geek shows to have 5-7 year runs on broadcast or cable television today? I'd love to read your comments below, or feel free to contact me on my Twitter account, @ShooterGWC.
Until Next Time...
I don’t think V is going to make it! It has been rather aimless since it’s return. I am sad to say I have even missed last week’s episode, and did not even realize it. It’s too bad, I think the story is just not strong enough.
A Sci-Fi show will never make it on a network. It’s all to watered down. People get excited to see these shows and then when we actually witness what they’ve put out, viewership declines. thus, good opening ratings that die off quickly. SyFy did it right with BSG. It was smart and well done from beginning to end, but stations like SyFy have the added burden of less viewership, making these shows hopelessly expensive to produce. Of all the cable stations, I think AMC is the best option, and exploring a genre like The Walking Dead indicates they are willing to try different things. Perhaps HBO or Showtime could pull it off as well. It is never good news when one of the big 4 networks attach themselves to these types of shows. they will either do it wrong, ie: V, Flash Forward, Heroes (after season 1) or make stupid decisions with the ones they do right, ie: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse
Thanks for the comment!
Probably the biggest reason I didn’t catch Stargate SG-1 from the beginning was that it was shown on Showtime. From what I read, Showtime could no longer support the show after season 5 because most people that didn’t subscribe to Showtime just waiting six months or so until the show was available via syndication. That’s when SciFi (now SyFy) picked up Stargate. And for the record I love Stargate now and have seen every broadcast episode of SG-1, Atlantis, and SGU. Why? Because I started watching SG-1 when it was back-to-back with BSG.
Things are a little different now with HBO and Showtime shows like the Sopranos, Weeds, Californication, Big Love and True Blood, but none of those shows are a true space-based scifi show like SGU. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen on HBO or Showtime, but I have some serious reservations. I think that AMC would have a much better chance since most people that get SyFy on their basic channel lineup also receive AMC, and while I haven’t seen Mad Men, I’m very impressed by The Walking Dead, and I’m not a vampire/zombie guy so that’s saying something. (In all fairness I am an Armageddon sort of guy, though.)
I’m not sure I can 100% agree with you that the “Big 4” networks always get it wrong. For example, Star Trek TNG was a great show after the 3rd or 4th season. Even though the show was broadcast in first run syndication, most people viewed TNG on a FOX station. Yes, it wasn’t produced via FOX, but it was aired on FOX. So perhaps syndication is a decent way ahead for shows like SGU, Babylon 5, Farscape, etc. That way the shows can scrap up a larger viewership while pressing ahead with newer produced content. Maybe Netflix or Hulu Plus could help out that way too.
There sure seems to be enough interest and viewership to produce these shows (BSG, Warehouse 13, and Eureka are a successful examples). Someone just needs to figure out the way to do it for a new space-based sci-fi show.
To me the problem isn’t which network the show is on- it’s the new post-writers strike business model that fraks things up. The start/stop/hiatus model has to STOP! I’m especially surprised that ABC did that to V in its opening season, considering the lessons they learned with LOST.
I like V, so does HubAZ, but he’s frustrated because he can’t remember stuff since the breaks are so long. HBO and AMC treat viewers with respect. They are upfront with their lineup schedules, deliver shows on time and communicate quickly when shows are renewed. The Big Four and SyFy seem to have trouble doing this. This perplexes me since show loyalty is a huge indicator for profitability.
I’m supporting V because I like the show and I want the network to continue to explore more out of the box programming. I’m very curious to see how FOX handles the launch of their new Terra Nova show, which looks very promising.
hi all, I’m new on here and excited to be a part of the group
I really wanted to like V,since I am a big fan of Marina Baccarin (and I still think she makes a really chilling lizard queen). But the resistance is a bunch of wussies and I would dearly love to see Anna just chow down on Tyler – the guy is just too stupid and lame to live. In trying to make the series all about family, they just managed to screw up the dynamics. I’m giving up on this one.