Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Confessions of a Show Killer

Okay, I know it's been forever and a day since I've posted. I wish I could say that I have been waiting for a really great topic to blog about, some sort of earth-shattering event which I've uncovered or have remarkable insight on. Alas, I cannot. No, what pushes me take up the again is actually a guilty conscience. You see, folks, I'm a killer. As you may have read, CBS has just announced the cancellation of "Jericho" and I'm afraid that it's all my fault.

What's that you say? You've never even heard of Jericho? The show sounds stupid? You didn't think Skeet Ulrich was still around? I understand where you're coming from. But you see, I liked the show. Sure, a post-apocalyptic small-town Kansas might not be the most relatable of locations for someone like me. And sure, having a nuclear bomb detonate in America may not be the most PC image in this post-9/11 world (a phrase I would retire if I had the authority), despite 24's outright theft of the idea. Nevertheless, the show was entertaining. It made some interesting statements about small towns and the way Americans would act if they were suddenly isolated from the rest of the country and world. Throw in a few good mysteries about who even bombed us in the first place (and the somewhat predictable "can we trust any new people who've come around lately?") and there was a reason to come back week after week. Plus it stayed away from the mistakes of one of my other favorite shows, LOST, and you know, wouldn't just make shit up for the sake of having more mysteries.

And then the show went on mid-season hiatus. I forgot about it. I figured out other things to do on Wednesday nights. I don't watch anything else on CBS so I never bothered to figure out when the show came back. Apparently no one else did either. The show that once had an article on CNN about how a post-apocalyptic drama would ironically be the hot new star of the season died a painful and viewer-less death. It's amazing the difference 5 months makes.

Of course, if I really had cared that much about the show, I could have paid attention to it. I could have made an effort to figure out when it was on and actually watched. I could have stopped rationalizing that if I ever wanted to get back into it, I could always just watch the episodes online for free. But the show's passing begs the question, "Is a mid-season hiatus really that necessary???"

Witness, if you will, Heroes, my new favorite, and the only show on NBC that is actually watched by someone who isn't an NBC exec. Despite being one of the strongest series on the network, even it took a tremendous nose-dive following it's 6 week hiatus. It took until the penultimate episode of the season to even start to regain it's coveted viewership. LOST too has taken it's biggest hits in audience numbers during the long-midseason breaks; granted LOST has plenty of other problems.

In the end, though, is the midseason break really necessary? I understand wanting to save your best stuff for sweeps, or wanting to limit production costs by ordering a few less episodes each season. If the audience stays away though, is it really that cost effective? I think I'd honestly prefer to have all the episodes shown in a row. Then just do repeats until the new season. Who wouldn't prefer that to having to look up each week whether the show is on or off again, eventually just deciding maybe it isn't worth watching?

You hear that, Heroes? Spinoffs aren't going to prevent a dive in your ratings. Midseason breaks aren't going to shore up that advertising revenue. Networks, just give us the new stuff in order and we'll promise to stay with you until the end.

Otherwise, I may be forced to kill again.

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