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NUTS
May 23, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Angry at CBS's canceling of Jericho, fans are sending nuts to CBS in an effort to get CBS to reverse their decision. At the time of this post, over four and a half tons of nuts have been sent. Why nuts? It refers to a term allegedly used in WWII by General A.C. McAuliffe at the Battle of Bastogne. The term was used as a plot device in the season finale. This is not the first time that fans of cancelled shows have used creative efforts to revive a canceled show with varying success. CBS's response so far has been tepid.
posted by shawnj (89 comments total)

 
if they're gonna send nuts, why not send nuts with their message on them? or, since CBS has used eggvertising to promote their shows, perhaps they should escalate their efforts in that direction.
posted by snofoam at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2007


Note to self: create a television show with a cult-like following but poor ratings, convince a major network to air it for a few years, then make sure the series finale uses twenty dollar bills as a plot device.
posted by turaho at 10:24 AM on May 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


The weather's nice today; let's go outside and have a picnic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on May 23, 2007


When the world serves you nuts, make peanut butter.
posted by boo_radley at 10:28 AM on May 23, 2007


I'm glad to see people get mobilized and take action over something that's truly important.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2007


I tried to watch Jericho when it came out, and I just couldn't stick with it past episode 2. I guess it's 'cause I kept getting Skeet Ulrich's character mixed up with his character from Chill Factor, and I was disappointed there was no ice cream truck.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2007


I tried. I really tried to get into Jericho, being something of a closet fan of the post-Apocalypse genre.

Somehow, about halfway through the season, it became Walker: Texas Ranger. Makes me think CBS just can't seem to bring itself to sustain a show with any degree of grit without Gerald McRaney touching it like an angel into a whimpering mediocre demise.
posted by abulafa at 10:38 AM on May 23, 2007


"Four and a half tons of nuts? Truly? God. God damn. That really—that really puts it into perspective. How could we be such fools? Four and a half tons. Where did we go wrong? No, no, it's too late to do anything but the right thing. Johnson! Get the board on the phone: we're doing another season."
posted by cortex at 10:39 AM on May 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


don't worry, all. CBS will turn this into a PR coup when they donate the nuts to Second Harvest or something.
posted by djspicerack at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2007


Boo_Radley, peanuts are legumes, not nuts. Sigh.

I have in the past gotten behind efforts to save cancelled shows, but not anymore. I have more recently just responded by no longer watching those networks. Sending them postcards or whatever is a waste of my time and resources.

FOX is notorious in cancelling anything I invest any level of emotional interest in. After a string of beloved shows disappeared, culminating in Firefly & Tru Calling (yet they kept 24 which I've never found to be entertaining) being cancelled, I just pretend FOX doesn't exist anymore.

I had a similar response to WB & UPN, which a couple years later de-evolved into CW - or so I've been told. I wouldn't know since I don't bother watching anymore.

However, this means less and less networks are remaining available to me. Looks like NBC is cancelling Raines, and they almost cancelled Medium. I can't even find when they play Numbers anymore. If I held fast to my commitment, NBC would be next on the chopping block, but then I couldn't watch Heroes anymore.

No great loss. The season finale was in my opinion anticlimactic. Fun, but disappointing. Why Sylar just didn't kill the entire rest of the cast can only be explained by their agents. From a plot logic standpoint it made no sense at all, and upon reflection I can live without seeing season two of Heroes (..or maybe I can wait for the DVDs in a couple years. =). Sylar shoulda kicked all their butts and he just stood there and waited to be ...well that's a whole 'nother thread.

I have most recently discovered the works of Sue Grafton, and her "Letter Is For Detective-Word" series of books. G is for Gumshoe rocked. I found that book quite by accident. So now I'm going back and reading the rest of them. I may soon just pretend television doesn't exist anymore.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:45 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is still a CBS?
posted by Dizzy at 10:45 AM on May 23, 2007


Well, a letter writing campaign brought Star Trek back for a third season, so, why not?

I'm glad to see people get mobilized and take action over something that's truly important.

I wonder how much mail the White House has gotten over Iraq, Plamegate, the mess with the DoJ, etc.?
posted by pax digita at 10:46 AM on May 23, 2007


I sent a a prosthetic hook to Fox after the cancellation of Arrested Development, but I got no response!
posted by found missing at 10:46 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I tried to watch Jericho when it came out, and I just couldn't stick with it past episode 2."

It got much, much better after about episode six. There were rumors going around that CBS was forcing the writers to focus on certain dramatic elements and keep the show uplifting. After episode six, they let the writers do nearly anything they wanted. They started killing off characters, people started acting selfish, resources got tight, and the darker elements of the genre started seeping in. It wasn't quite Fallout: The Series, but it wasn't the feel-good family hour that it was at the beginning of the season.
posted by shawnj at 10:46 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of all electronic media, broadcast is the worst. Of broadcast media, TV is the worst. Of TV, network TV is the worst. Of network TV, CBS is definitely near the bottom. And of all their shows, this one got cancelled.

I'm thinking I'll skip this one.
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much mail the White House has gotten over Iraq, Plamegate, the mess with the DoJ, etc.?

Yes, my point exactly--I enjoyed Jericho well enough, but it's just an entertainment...if I get activist about anything, it's over something that is more important than my own amusement.

(and get off my lawn!!)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2007


Boo_Radley, peanuts are legumes, not nuts. Sigh.

It has the word "nut" right in the word, there! Peanuts are nuts!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2007


What? Gerald McMajorDad is still working?

I liked him better before his name change, when all he could say was sound effects.
posted by JHarris at 10:58 AM on May 23, 2007


I want to be sent back in time to Bastogne in WWII so I can find some dude freezing his ass off in a foxhole and ask him what he thinks of this.
posted by bondcliff at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2007


if they're gonna send nuts, why not send nuts with their message on them?

I totally thought, and perhaps hoped, that this link would be NSFW.
posted by jeffmik at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2007


if I get activist about anything, it's over something that is more important than my own amusement.

But if we renew "Jericho", we can find where Hawkins hid the nuke and then send it to D.C. and have ourselves a real protest!

Good god, man--keep your eyes on the prize!
posted by gsh at 11:08 AM on May 23, 2007


People still watch TV?
posted by loquacious at 11:09 AM on May 23, 2007


I've heard that "Nuts!" was not, in fact, McAuliffe's actual reply. Supposedly, it's what the papers went with because they couldn't print his actual, two-word retort.
posted by EarBucket at 11:12 AM on May 23, 2007


Just to echo DU a bit, one of the last places I'd want to get my post-apocalyptic fix would be CBS.

Hell, I'd rather hear Ira Glass belabor the poignancy of radiation poisoning as delirium convinces him that the broken-down ice cream truck he holed up in is in fact a balmy WBEZ Chicago studio.
posted by uri at 11:13 AM on May 23, 2007


This was a great show. I hope they bring it back.
posted by tadellin at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2007


I'd rather hear Ira Glass belabor the poignancy of radiation poisoning as delirium convinces him that the broken-down ice cream truck he holed up in is in fact a balmy WBEZ Chicago studio.

HOLY CRAP, I WOULD GIVE ANY AMOUNT OF NUTS IN ORDER TO HEAR THIS
posted by Greg Nog at 11:20 AM on May 23, 2007


They nearly lost me with their poor research about surviving nuclear war, fallout and EMP.

I gave them some leeway and was rewarded. Watching the idealism and loving Mom and apple pie Americanism be washed away by hunger and war rewarded my patience.

Jericho was the ilustration of the truism "no country is more than 3 meals away from revolution"

I hope they come up with a solution. I would be happy with a graphic novel or similar.
posted by Megafly at 11:20 AM on May 23, 2007


I actually belonged to C.O.O.P. That acronym stood for "Citizens Opposing the Offing of Peaks." As in Twin Peaks. I even got their newsletter.

In retrospect, Twin Peaks kinda sucked at the end. Sorry to say, it totally deserved to be offed. I miss the backwards talking dwarves and the cherry pie though. And Leland doing his crazy dance while hitting golf balls. Good times.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:23 AM on May 23, 2007


Is it too late to save the Sopranos?
What could we send - ducklings?
posted by Flashman at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2007


I wonder how much mail the White House has gotten over Iraq, Plamegate, the mess with the DoJ, etc.?

I couldn't say, but sending the White House four and a half tons (at least) of pretzels would be interesting.
posted by Zinger at 11:25 AM on May 23, 2007


I won't even glance at a new show unless it's been on for 3 seasons. Had the rug pulled out too many times. Much easier to wait to see if it's supported and catch up via bittorrent. I suspect I'm not the only one.
posted by RavinDave at 11:31 AM on May 23, 2007


You know, this worked for Veronica Mars last season, and the creators responded by being totally shitty this year, so it could get cancelled without barely a peep this time around. A real shame, that.

Sometimes it's better to let go, I suppose.

Still, I'm sorry they cancelled Drive after three episodes. Poor Nathan Fillion.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2007


To give an idea of how bad Jericho was, it constantly reminded me that however annoying Lost was, Lost was still a very good show. Jericho nearly inspired me to become a television writer, because if you can be a television writer and pull trite plot devices and cliches from other television shows and still get payed six-figures, I might as well may do it. Some problems:

- Food shortage in Kansas? Are you serious? Kansas is probably one of the few areas of the nation, that in the event of a post-apocalyptic disaster, would not have a food storage. The fuel shortage is sort of a joke, as anyone driving across Kansas can testify, it is dotted with mules stripping oil from the ground. Also you cannot see Denver, or the mountains of Colorado from Western Kansas. And the terrain of Western Kansas does not look like the Southern California desert.

- The show represented small-town Kansas as a bunch of feel-good-let's-all-bootstrap-ourselves-go-community-values-all-for-one types. They also portrayed people being able to go from both sides of Kansas and all over the Midwest at will. As if it were the size of greater LA. Hello, it is a huge prairie with no or little discernible landmarks and very little ground water. I don't think its vastness was appreciated at all. "Hey we just came from Topeka, without any maps or compasses or anything really, and look how healthy and clean we are, not like we spent several weeks camping out in the open air." Oh and back to Western Kansas. The people left there aren't exactly the friendliest people. I don't think they'd set out a steak dinner for any wandering band. That and they probably are one of the few areas of the country that everyone has extensive firearm training, they'd have much better shot/kill ratio than the show explores.

- The "battle scenes", which I was looking forward to, were terrible. Had the writers not seen a war movie? Played a first person shooter? Even shot a gun? Read a Tom Clancy novel? This is literally how the final scene played out:
(1) Jericho townies set up a defensive perimeter around a very hilly, desert like part of Western Kansas. Shelbyville or whatever the rival town was called drove trucks in (no one fired on the drivers or the trucks). Let all the men pour out of the trucks. Let the men set up. Then let the men start firing first. On then Jericho's tank came rolling in and they all fled.

The writers kept the show going by trying to add a Lost-like mystery, which didn't work. If they kept to a Fallout gameplan and stuck to how cruel and mean the world would turn out without a government (they almost got there) it would have been interesting. Instead it read like a 50s-era "Go America!", where everyone lives a Leave it to Beaver type existence outside of LA/NY/Chicago.
posted by geoff. at 11:36 AM on May 23, 2007


I wonder how much mail the White House has gotten over Iraq, Plamegate, the mess with the DoJ, etc.?

Well, CBS doesn't exactly put your name on the NSA's "watch list" when you send angry letters, does it? I think that might have a chilling effect on mail.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:38 AM on May 23, 2007


Looks like NBC is cancelling Raines,

I had high hopes for this show, but whoever they hired to cut together the previews for the next weeks episodes needed to be fired. It was as if the person editing the footage had never actually watched the show:

Next week, Raines has to deal with an imaginary yet spunky 10 year old girl. Watch their wacky adventures as he tries to figure out what happened to her. See her make funny faces and witness Jeff Goldblum act confused and frazzled. It's Fun! It's Silly! It's RAINES!

And the episode is actually about Raines trying to track down the killer and rapist of this little kid. Yeah, there is lots of humor to be had in that.
posted by quin at 11:39 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Poor Nathan Fillion.

Indeed. If they ever make a movie of the Fallout series, I demand that Nathan Fillion play the Vault Dweller.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


geoff., you've actually made me want to see this show now. Plus I live in a place called Jericho.
posted by Flashman at 11:42 AM on May 23, 2007


Food shortage in Kansas? Are you serious?

It's an industrialized food system. Sure, Kansas grows lots of corn, but none of us are used to actually eating it. It gets shipped off to be processed into "food systems." More importantly, Kansas is damn near deser now, underneath a few feet of fertilizer and petrochemicals. Without an industrial system, Kansas would be only slightly more arable than the Sahara in very short order.

They also portrayed people being able to go from both sides of Kansas and all over the Midwest at will.

We did have a lot of fun with Jake's Magic Car, that gets a few hundred thousand miles to the gallon...

My biggest problem was why those big McMansions were't torn down for firewood in short order? But these are the problems normally associated with network TV, but even so, it managed to deal with a lot more of the gritty issues of social collapse than you normally see. If Jericho's gone, that just leaves me with Heroes, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Well, I guess it at least puts me closer to giving up my TV.
posted by jefgodesky at 11:46 AM on May 23, 2007


Well, I never watched Jericho, but Gerald McRaney was amazing on Deadwood.
posted by cptnrandy at 11:50 AM on May 23, 2007


Without an industrial system, Kansas would be only slightly more arable than the Sahara in very short order.

I suspect this may be an exaggeration.
posted by DU at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2007


I think a fitting end would be touching off that nuke the FBI guy has buried under his outhouse.

The only show I ever really liked was Firefly. I'm still bitter about that. But, take heart Jericho fans; time heals all wounds. Its been over a year since the last time I got drunk, put on my brownpants and tossed my T.V. out the window.
posted by BostonJake at 11:53 AM on May 23, 2007


In theory I support grass-roots entertainment activism, but eventually all this stuff will end in a reckoning.

On the networks' side, eventually someone is going to notice a pattern: Whenever you greenlight a show with an interesting and original SF/fantasy premise, it will attract hordes of rabid fans, but hold little interest for most Nielsen households. The sponsors will bitch about low revenue and the show will be pulled. When that happens, the obsessive nerd legions will mobilize and flood the studio with letters, postcards and (apparently) nuts. Who needs that hassle? It's easier and cheaper to just keep cranking out sitcoms that will garner mediocre but acceptable ratings, and nobody will like the show so much that they go berserk when it gets canceled.

On the side of the fans, they'll realize that the networks aren't their friends. They'll start looking elsewhere for their entertainment, and I think they'll find it on the Internet as it becomes easier and easier for creative amateurs to produce their own material and make it available online. Of course, there'll be mountains of garbage around the few gems, but there will be gems, and they will attract audiences.

In the end, the fans and the creators will win. The fans will get their fix, and the creators will get their audience. Things may be a little cruder, a little more amateurish, but the heart will be there, and that's what matters.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:59 AM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


/Slightly off-topic as it's a different network...

But allow me to once again use this as a soapbox to say Fuck You Fox! Fuck you for never giving a show a decent chance to get traction!

Drive got four episodes. Four! You canceled it in 9 days. People in your audience could have gone on vacation and missed the shows entire run.

Who do you have that are making these decisions? Why do you bother to green-light a show if you aren't willing to give it at least half a season to find it's groove?

Why the fuck should I ever bother even investing in one of your shows? You don't care about them, why should I?

Let's take a look at the ones you have dumped since 2000 or so: Action, Harsh Realm, The Lone Gunmen, Dark Angel, Greg the Bunny, The Tick, Titus, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Fastlane, John Doe, Keen Eddie, Life on a Stick, Arrested Development, Kitchen Confidential, That '80s show (if only for Chyler Leigh and Brittany Daniel), and now Drive.

Fuck you Fox. We are done.

/deep breath. Sorry about that. I just get irate when this kind of thing happens.
posted by quin at 12:04 PM on May 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


I suspect this may be an exaggeration.

Not by much. North American soils are 85% depleted on average, and the Great Plains are the worst. The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was a process of desertification from farming, just like the first farmers transformed the forests of the Fertile Crescent into the Middle East we recognize today. The Kansas landscape is an artificial one, with corn growing out of several feet of nitrogen fertilizer. The Green Revolution was, in large part, a response to the fact that the natural arability of the Great Plains was gone. Without that, and you won't be able to grow much of anything in the actual soil.
posted by jefgodesky at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you how Jericho ends.

Trashcan Man finds the nuke that Hawkins hid and detonates it as an offering to Randall Flagg, destroying Las Vegas and killing Flagg. Or so it seems.

Meanwhile, the less annoying citizens of Jericho (McRainey excluded) escape with Stu back to the relative safety of the Boulder Free Zone, and from there to the pastoral countryside of Maine to begin the world anew.

However, all does not end as well as it seems, for the Crimson King still sits undying on his throne at the top of the Dark Tower.

For you see, Constant Reader, ka is a wheel - all it does is turn around.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:11 PM on May 23, 2007 [8 favorites]


I didn't even know Kitchen Confidential had been cancelled in the US - the full season was given a run in Australia so the downloads came in pretty much as usual.
posted by jeffmik at 12:15 PM on May 23, 2007


Dee's Nuts?
posted by NationalKato at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2007


Zachsmind: Look at what 24's espousing as the Right Thing To Do (torture, etc.), and remember this is on Fox. Cross-marketing politics from Fox News, or maybe I'm just cynical.
posted by pemungkah at 12:36 PM on May 23, 2007


I actually belonged to C.O.O.P. That acronym stood for "Citizens Opposing the Offing of Peaks." As in Twin Peaks. I even got their newsletter.

In retrospect, Twin Peaks kinda sucked at the end. Sorry to say, it totally deserved to be offed. I miss the backwards talking dwarves and the cherry pie though. And Leland doing his crazy dance while hitting golf balls. Good times.


Word. I ordered the recently released season two set, giddy to revisit the moments that still stood out for me almost (God help me) twenty years later -- the first appearance of The Giant, the scary-as-hell death(s) of Sheryl Lee, Leland's last scene, the amazing (if ultimately incredibly frustrating) last episode, with the Black Lodge revealed. And those things were actually better than I remembered, because I was all growed up now and could fully appreciate them. What I did NOT realize was just how bad almost everything after the resolution of the central mystery really was...which is to say, really fucking BAD. Yeah, episodes stood out here and there...but for the most part, when David Lynch moved on, there wasn't much left.

Nevertheless, I was pretty dorkishly -- all but Trek-ishly -- hung up on this show as a teenager. In retrospect, I am grateful to David Lynch for pissing all over the few diehards who had masochistically hung around with a series "finale" that resolved nothing (well...it killed godawful Windom Earle, which IS something -- thanks, David!) and left virtually every character in a never-to-be-resolved state of cliffhanger. I learned a valuable lesson that night: Serial TV will break your HEART, yo! It's okay to love it, but don't get too attached. 'Cause it's a ho. A HO!!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:46 PM on May 23, 2007


"I can't even find when they play Numbers anymore."

That actually hasn't changed for 2 seasons, at least. Friday nights at (I think) 9:00 (maybe it's 10:00, I dunno, I tivo it). Unfortunately, instead of moving it around, they decided to make it suck. Oh well...
posted by inigo2 at 12:59 PM on May 23, 2007


It seems to me that a lot of the shows with absolutely rabid fans tend not to last -- because the fact that the show has this level of fandom suggests to some level it is outside of the mainstream in some form or fashion. I mean, Firefly was excellent but I can see how a lot of people would be weirded out and confused by spaceships and horses (which I myself got a kick out of).

The lesson? If you really, really love a show, odds are good that it will either be cancelled or will start looking suspiciously like every other frikken show on TV, which is the only way it can be saved. These days, with our trigger-finger tv watching, a lot of networks want to grab the "switched from the other channel during commercials" viewer. Which means that the show that the switch to has to be engaging but also very, very predictable and easy to grab within a short period of time -- namely the time before you go to commercial. If the attitude of a show is "screw you if you came in 15 minutes after it began and haven't seen an earlier show. You're not going to know what's going on and you're just going to have to watch the previous episodes in order to do so."

Which is why I think Heroes is doing relatively well. Even though it's got a fairly linked narrative, you can still come in pretty much at any time and be like, "Oh, okay. People with superpowers. Some kind of government based conspiracy to cover it up. Impending armageddon" and boom, you've just become a Heroes watcher. Try absorbing the plot that quickly in, say, Firefly.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing part of an early Jericho episode, and I saw enough to see we are VERY naive and idealistic about what life would be like after a nuclear strike happened in the continental US. I couldn't take the show seriously, because the show didn't take the subject matter seriously.

To me, Jericho was the metaphorical equivalent of a scifi show that showed people breathing in outer space without environmental suits.

"Zachsmind: Look at what 24's..."

I don't watch 24. I am secretly angry at anyone who does, especially if they have a Nielsen box. 24 should have been cancelled at the pilot. Sorry pemungkah but I have no idea what you're talking about, and no interest in figuring it out. It's on FOX which makes it evil. Very simple. I'm secretly angry at anyone who still supports FOX anything - especially if they have a Nielsen box.

Numbers was great at the very beginning, but something happened and I don't know what but suddenly it became difficult to catch, and since TV is no longer as high on my priorities as it used to be, if I have to schedule my life around a show, I actively resist that now.

The only two exceptions at the moment are Heroes and Lost. Raines was becoming an exception, because I happened by chance to catch an episode or two on NBC's website at a time of MY choosing. I actually tuned in to see Raines' fifth episode when it aired, and of course that's when they cancelled it.

Networks are not our friends.

I pray for the day when someone gives Joss Whedon enough money to start producing a 'television series' that is straight to DVD, and they let him do what he wants without network executives hindering his creativity.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:27 PM on May 23, 2007


Deathalicious ... showing episodes out of order on and playing musical timeslot might have contributed to the confusion.

The simple fact is that it is often the case that new execs consciously torpedo projects mounted by former execs who originally lit the green light.

And the list of legendary shows that started out low-low-low in the ratings is well-known. There would never be a "Dick Van Dyke" or "Hill Street Blues" in this current environment.
posted by RavinDave at 1:30 PM on May 23, 2007


" Look at what 24's espousing as the Right Thing To Do (torture, etc.), and remember this is on Fox. Cross-marketing politics from Fox News, or maybe I'm just cynical."



Err yeah, or maybe it could be the ratings? I hate it too but to pretend it doesn't have a huge fanbase that translates into huge ratings is silly.

Jericho sucked, I really tried to like it, but the "mysteries" were annoying and the charecters were weak.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:41 PM on May 23, 2007


This is a surprise? Networks are supposed to be mainstream. It's their bread and butter. It's amazing to me that Lost, one of my favorite shows, is still on - and will be for three more seasons.

Besides, there is a place for niche and genre programming: cable. Hell, it's the ideal place for your rabid but limited base shows. You know, your Battlestar Galacticas, 4400s, etc.

Not to mention, I like when shows have limited runs. It only sucks when it gets the axe without warning and/or with a very unsatisfying cliffhanger. (I'm looking at YOU, HBO.)

Though, to be fair, it might not be the worst idea in the world for networks to reevaluate their relationship with Nielsen. They're haven't even begun to scratch the surface about how DVDs, Timeshifting, etc. have change the TV watching landscape.
posted by absalom at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2007


If the attitude of a show is "screw you if you came in 15 minutes after it began and haven't seen an earlier show. You're not going to know what's going on and you're just going to have to watch the previous episodes in order to do so."

Which is why I think Heroes is doing relatively well. Even though it's got a fairly linked narrative, you can still come in pretty much at any time and be like, "Oh, okay. People with superpowers. Some kind of government based conspiracy to cover it up. Impending armageddon" and boom, you've just become a Heroes watcher. Try absorbing the plot that quickly in, say, Firefly.


Is Firefly really that complicated to a typical TV viewer, under those conditions? It's basically "Outlaws in space, on the run from an evil government"--yeah, there are deeper levels to the storyline, but that's enough to understand the basics. Of course, I had the luxury of being introduced to that series in order, commercial-free and with a recommendation from a friend, rather than discovering it while channel-surfing or something.

And the list of legendary shows that started out low-low-low in the ratings is well-known. There would never be a "Dick Van Dyke" or "Hill Street Blues" in this current environment.

Yeah, that represents a tragic short-sightedness in my opinion. Plenty of my favourite shows have taken a season or two to hit their artistic as well as commercial stride. You'd think that the traditional networks would take a look at the success of HBO shows like the Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Deadwood and figure out that quality can find a market if they give it a chance.
posted by arto at 1:56 PM on May 23, 2007


Fan drives do nothing anymore. The tactic was once successful, but it is no longer effective. Witness Firefly, witness Angel, witness Farscape.

That having been said, Fox loves to drown them some kittens in the crick! I just envision every new show Fox does as a bunch of squirming, fuzzy baby cats in a gunnysack - one or two episodes escape, and then it's down for the drown!

Fox should just concentrate on four episode miniseries. Miniserii? It's about all the stamina they have for a show anyway.
posted by adipocere at 1:59 PM on May 23, 2007


Still, I'm sorry they cancelled Drive after three episodes.

Three episodes?? They advertised that thing TO DEATH and killed it after 3 episodes?

It is possible that there exists more airtime of Drive as 30 second commercials rather than the TV show.

Well, let's see, 44 minutes of TV show (not counting commercials), times 3 episodes, would be 132 minutes, or 264 30-second blocks.

Yeah, I guarantee Fox showed the commercials for Drive more than 264 times in the 3 months previous. Had to. Easy.

This relatively new notion of cancelling shows 2-3 episodes in is lunacy.

I agree with those above... if you can't commit the show to at least 1/2 season (hence why you have mid-season replacements) then it simply shouldn't be greenlighted in the first place.

I especially get aggravated and confused when they cancel shows that have HIGHER ratings than other shows on their schedule.

Every show is not going to be a blockbuster. And if they didn't waste 60% of their programming budget canceling already created shows and having to rush replacements to production and waste tons of advertising on dead properties, they wouldn't NEED every show to be a blockbuster.

Thank god for Tivo. I almost never watch "live" tv anymore. When I sit down to watch television, the first thing I do is pull up the list of recorded programs. I can't remember the last time, at home, that I sat and channel surfed.

For those of you who still have not gotten on the DVR bandwagon, don't wait. It will forever change your tv viewing. If you enjoy tv at all (I probably watch 45 minutes per day, which can squeeze in 2 Tivo'd shows, sans commercials) you owe it to yourself to own a DVR.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:11 PM on May 23, 2007


Your favorite sucky show, sucks.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:18 PM on May 23, 2007


One hand: What an incredible testament to human passion and the power of group-thinking turned group-action.

Other hand: What an incredible waste of time, effort, and money from a grassroots organization whose collective resources could have made an impact on an issue more imperative than a TV show.
posted by schleppo at 2:28 PM on May 23, 2007


adipocere: The tactic was once successful, but it is no longer effective. Witness Firefly, witness Angel ...

"Angel" was a funny case that reflects a bad trend. It had a solid fan base and respectable ratings. It was essentially dropped because the bean-counters thought: "This costs too much. Yeah, we're still making buckets of money, but if we put a cheaper show in its place, we'll keep more of that money."
posted by RavinDave at 2:31 PM on May 23, 2007


Three episodes?? They advertised that thing TO DEATH and killed it after 3 episodes?

Technically it was four episodes. Sunday night they aired a two hour premier (episodes 1 and 2). Monday they aired the third episode and the following Monday they aired the fourth and final ep. total series run-time: nine days.

Beyond that minor nitpick, your point is completely valid.
posted by quin at 2:33 PM on May 23, 2007


Still ... no matter how you cut it, you only had 3 opportunities to see it.
posted by RavinDave at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2007


I understand theat they're going to air a few more episodes on that banner ratings day, July 4.


Though, to be fair, it might not be the worst idea in the world for networks to reevaluate their relationship with Nielsen.


They are. Alternative models include factoring in how closely a show is watched, so that things like product placement have a better chance of being noticed.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:47 PM on May 23, 2007


RavinDave: "The simple fact is that it is often the case that new execs consciously torpedo projects mounted by former execs who originally lit the green light."

Oh yeah! This is one of my favorite "excuses" for why this crud keeps happening in TV Land.

It works like this: Executive One greenlights a show. He then gets canned for some unrelated reason. His successor, Executive Two, finds himself in a no-win situation regarding anything his prececessor greenlit. If a predecessor's show goes well, E2 can't take credit for it cuz E1 greenlit it. If the show fails, E2 will get blamed for not cancelling it sooner. This process actually encourages executives to torpedo stuff that they didn't come up with - hence the increasing number of good shows getting the axe, as the turnover rate of network executives increases.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:56 PM on May 23, 2007


Technically it was four episodes.

The fourth episode finished in fifth place in its timeslot. Fifth! After the CW. If you have all that advertising, and lose that much audience after 9 days, you have to be realistic and cut your losses. They replaced it with House reruns and got better ratings.

I guess they could have done what NBC did with Studio 60, and kept it on life support despite bleeding viewers, but that didn't work out very well in the end either.
posted by smackfu at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2007


I used to be a diehard Lost fan, but I totally kicked the habit after the Bai Ling episode - you know, the one that explains Jack's tattoos. And partly because of this website, which is dedicated to, among other things, trashing her.

And part of me is still pissed that HBO cancelled Carnivale.
posted by phaedon at 3:02 PM on May 23, 2007


eh, jericho was not such a good show. interesting for an occasional gander but - the characters were annoying and the mysteries, dull. mcraney was good but that was one of the few bright spots.

drive was awful. the ONLY good thing about it was nathan fillion in the muscle car... which was very, very good. woulda been enough for me to watch every episode, for years. oh well.

much like prison break, which is PREPOSTEROUS - but is filled with very, very good lookin' men. curoius that it is a success. i always wonder how it manages to stay alive. it gets sillier every episode.

heroes is popcorn. has some good moments but generally has little internal logic and tends to go for cheap sentimentalism and disposable characters. the finale was tedious.

24 was prettty fun in the first season but only - ONLY - because of the format. by the season end i was praying for all characters to die horrible deaths, and didn't even bother to watch the finale.

i love lost. even with flaws, it's a pretty complex and challenging show. i think one of the few reasons it has survived - besides good writing and great production values - is that the creators insist that it is not a gnere show. which, it so clearly is. and that is a-ok by me. broadcast tv can be pretty bleak, but there are some bright moments.

eh, for whatever my opnion is worth.
posted by lapolla at 3:04 PM on May 23, 2007


that's just nuts
posted by andywolf at 3:13 PM on May 23, 2007


I really liked Jericho.

What REALLY pissed me off is what CBS said they're going to air..

"A new reality show, "Kid Nation," will take 40 children and set them up in an abandoned New Mexico town. Cameras will follow them as they try to set up their own society without adult supervision.""

They're ditching "Jericho" for THIS?!

God damn, CBS, at least give it a second season so they can make some attempt at finishing the show.

Really, it's not like there is inadequate bandwidth for television or a lack of advertisers willing to do TV spots.

These ridiculous 10 week "holiday breaks" are what kills TV shows.
posted by drstein at 3:14 PM on May 23, 2007


The problem is that the more "serialized" your show is, the worse it does in reruns. Regular viewers don't watch, and casual viewers don't bother. The 10 week breaks were last year's solution to the problem.

Unfortunately, most of the shows they tried it with ended up starting off the second half with lowered ratings and never got back up to the season average. Like Heroes, or Lost, or Jericho.

I think next year's plan is to schedule all the episodes back-to-back, like with this year's 24. That still requires finding some cheap filler for the timeslot for the rest of the year... filler like "Kid Nation".
posted by smackfu at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2007


turaho plotted Note to self: create a television show with a cult-like following but poor ratings, convince a major network to air it for a few years, then make sure the series finale uses twenty dollar bills as a plot device.

I suggest the plot for season finale of Studio 60 is letter-writing campaign to save the show within the show as a hint to the quickly dwindling fans for a rapidly disappointing series.

Which would be a shame to save in real life, because the inside 'SNL' show is really bad. On the flipside the 'SNL' show in 30 Rock is quite funny and would love to see it spin-off into a real sketch comedy show.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:25 PM on May 23, 2007


And the list of legendary shows that started out low-low-low in the ratings is well-known. There would never be a "Dick Van Dyke" or "Hill Street Blues" in this current environment.

Seinfeld, as well. It wasn't until Season 4 that it started to take hold.
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on May 23, 2007


Okay, here's the math. Network TV bases a disproportionate amount of their advertising sales efforts on the results of NOT the everyweek ratings, but three 4-week "Ratings Sweeps" in November, February and May. It's 30-31 weeks between the beginning of November and the end of May. Also, since the 'traditional' start of the TV season is September, they feel obligated to premiere the new fall shows 6-7 weeks before the November sweeps start to prevent the other networks from hooking 'regular viewers' for all their shows first (it also gives them time to dump the real dogs before the Sweeps start). Way back in the 1950s and 1960s, the then-three networks started cutting back the number of shows in a "season", from 39 to 36 to 32 to 26 to 24 to a standard-since-the-mid-70s 22. Spreading 22 shows over a 30-31 or 36-37 week period and making sure that 12 of them air during the all-important Sweeps results in long, boring hiatuses. Which is why Fox now airs "24" and "American Idol" form January through May and kisses the November Sweeps bye-bye. And the new deal for "Lost" on ABC will be for 16 episodes a year, aired Feb-May for the next three years. And NBC's "Heroes" got 24 eps for next year, plus a short-run 6 episode spin-off "Origins" in the same universe with new characters to fill the hiatus periods.

My advice: if an interesting new show premieres (especially on Fox) the month before Sweeps, just TiVo it and store it; if it survives to the end of Sweeps, it's safer to watch. And if a show is described in the press as "on the bubble" for renewal a month before the season is scheduled to end, just TiVo it. It will definitely have a "you don't dare cancel us" cliffhanger and the network will probably cancel it anyway. If not, you can enjoy the cliffhanger the week before the show returns in the fall.
posted by wendell at 3:51 PM on May 23, 2007


It's fun to delete a whole folder of unwatched shows on Tivo.
posted by smackfu at 4:01 PM on May 23, 2007


Jericho is a provincial wet dream. Remove the center and allow the frontier to become relevant (again). Kind of like the Bush presidency.
posted by stbalbach at 4:04 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jericho got a LOT better after the first six episodes, when (reportedly) the network stopped telling the writers what to do.

It was the only show on normal "network TV" that I'd bothered to pay attention to in the past five or six years. Guess it's back to just Discovery/Military/Science/Travel Channels and the Food Network for me.
posted by mrbill at 6:09 PM on May 23, 2007


Well, I never watched Jericho, but Gerald McRaney was amazing on Deadwood.

Oh please. Like he could EVER surpass Simon & Simon?!? Impossible.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:38 PM on May 23, 2007


I thought Jericho showed a lot of improvement toward the end. I was really hoping -- and I guess I'm not alone -- for a more Fallout/Mad Max-esque treatment. The plot development followed more mundane lines. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I feel pretty bad for Nathan Fillion. Ben Browder, too. Both great actors. Both starred in a number of good (and cancelled) shows. Clearly, somebody needs to produce something just for these two.
posted by Kikkoman at 7:41 PM on May 23, 2007


Episodic television sucks, because you know how it is going to end. You know the regular characters can't die. You know that by the end of any episode, there's gonna be the metaphoric equivalent of a reboot. Any substantial baddies will be dealt with but not in any final way, so in case they wanna use the same baddie later they can, and the good guys' relationships will be pretty much the way they were at the beginning. Oh you may get some slight change every once in awhile, usually for sweeps. The lead ingenues will either get more stressed out about each other or get a little closer. Ooh. Maybe they'll kiss. Color me bored.

Serialized television sucks, because you need a scorecard to keep up with what's going on. It starts getting soap opera-ish and if you're addicted to it, it's hard to convince your friends to hop on the peace train. Changes may happen to characters, and it might be one of your favorite characters and it might be a change you won't like, and you got no control over the situation other than to stop watching, and you're not gonna stop watching cuz you're effin' addicted but that just pisses you off all the more. The storyline may go off in directions you won't like. You may have appreciated how it started, but a couple seasons in the show doesn't look anything like the show you fell in love with, because like life, the show evolves and grows and morphs and, y'know, changes. So you don't know what you're getting week to week.

It's like mystery ice cream specials at some ice cream parlor. You might get a free scoop of butter pecan next week with an order, which would suck unless you happen to like butter pecan.

So essentially, you can't win. Joss Whedon tried to resolve this by creating television shows that were both episodic and serialized simultaneously. Most tv shows try to do this come to think of it but in my opinion Whedon's the only one who has succeeded the most, and what'd he get for his troubles? Cancelled. A lot. Why? Money. It is not cheap to consistently come up with shows that have one plot wrapped up by the end of the episode while another plotline carries over several episodes if not a whole season or even a whole series.

Reality TV doesn't appeal to people who like quality, but people who like quality are usually smart enough not to fall for advertising gimmicks. People who will watch reality tv might also listen to commercials. They might not, but the chances are slightly better, and if they don't, it didn't cost as much to make "National Bingo Night" as it did to make "Lost."

Jericho started like a recently born fawn trying to stand up. It never had a chance to get its legs underneath to steady itself before it got shot in the back of the head. Maybe it woulda been great, but lookit the subject matter. End of the world happens, but life goes on. Ooh. Lemme go get my popcorn. *rolls eyes*
posted by ZachsMind at 9:50 PM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]




The Kansas landscape is an artificial one, with corn growing out of several feet of nitrogen fertilizer.

Well, that, and the largest underground freshwater lake in the world. Though, the nitrogen theory sounds a lot cooler.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:08 AM on May 24, 2007


Dammit. I had to go out last night, so set my DVR to record the whole Lost episode; just discovered that it cut off after 1 hour and 36 minutes. Arggh.

And yeah, I"m a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, too. Jericho wasn't great but it was interesting and as people started turning on each other, it got better.

Anyone recall what that show was that depicted a guy who kept experiencing the same thing over and over--he was suspected of murder or something?It just vanished at some point. Did it reach a conclusion or did it just end the way Invasion and now Jericho?
posted by etaoin at 6:21 AM on May 24, 2007


"Day Break". It was a filler for the gap in the "Lost" season, so it was only a half-season order in the first place. When they canned it, they showed the rest of the episodes online. They're still on the ABC website actually.
posted by smackfu at 6:44 AM on May 24, 2007


And the last bits of Daybreak were excellent.
posted by shawnj at 7:28 AM on May 24, 2007


Zachsmind: Buffy lated seven episodes, angel lasted five, both on non-major networks. That's a pretty good run: only Firefly only got shot down unjustly and too soon.
posted by absalom at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2007


SEASONS, not episodes.
posted by absalom at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2007


"Day Break". It was a filler for the gap in the "Lost" season, so it was only a half-season order in the first place. When they canned it, they showed the rest of the episodes online. They're still on the ABC website actually.
Smackfu, thanks very much.
posted by etaoin at 7:35 PM on May 24, 2007


Looks like NBC is cancelling Raines, and they almost cancelled Medium. I can't even find when they play Numbers anymore.

Numbers is on CBS, incidentally. (At least, it better be - CBS is streaming episodes of it, which is just cheeky otherwise.)
posted by Pronoiac at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2007


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