Premature cancellation. It’s a problem that is running rampant through the television networks these days. Network executives are hasty with their cancellation orders these days, often axing a show before it has more than a few episodes under its belt. I tell you, if I love a show, it is a good indication that it will be cancelled pretty quickly.
Some shows are at least allowed to finish their one and only season, yet often leave storylines in the air, preventing fans from achieving any kind of closure. One of my favorites was Birds of Prey, a series with great storylines, well-developed characters, and fantastic action. It never came back after Season 1.
Other shows are given the rare chance at a second season, allowing viewers to get their hopes up, only to dash those very hopes shortly into the season. It was recently announced that another of my favorite shows won’t be renewed for what would have been its third season: Pushing Daisies. This show is so clever, witty, and very different from anything else on television. To see it killed when some pretty trashy reality shows survive is disheartening.
Pushing Daisies shared a creator with another great series with a low episode count: Dead Like Me. Bryan Fuller infused this show with the same quirky humor and offbeat plots that he brought to Pushing Daisies. It was also cancelled unceremoniously. Some new life was breathed into it when it was re-run years later on teh SciFi channel, but it was too little too late. The cast had long since moved on to other projects, so even if a network bought the show, the chemistry that those actors brought to Dead Like Me was a thing of the past.
Occasionally, a show is cancelled prematurely, but sees new life in a movie format. Fans let out an uproar when shows like Firefly and Farscape were cancelled. We found closure with Farscape when the SciFi channel wrapped up the storylines in made-for-tv movies. Firefly‘s return was even more spectacular, with feature film release in theaters nationwide. The joy was shortlived, however, when it was made clear that the movie Serenity, even as phenomenal a movie as it was, turned out to be the final death-knoll for that world and those beloved characters.
What’s the point of all this? Networks are killing themselves with premature cancellation. Think about Seinfeld: that show didn’t score well in the ratings its first season. In fact, it didn’t reach the top 30 until its fourth season. By today’s network standards, it would have been cancelled before it really had a chance to find its audience.
The fickle nature of tv networks today makes viewers like me reluctant to give new shows a chance. I’m tired of finding great shows that are never given the chance to find their footing before impatient executives trash them and fill the slot with the next new thing. It is rare I’ll watch a show in its first season anymore, preferring to see it get renewed at least once before I invest myself in it. Consequently, viewership suffers even further because people like me aren’t tuning in.
I’m just tired of it. The mindless banality and shameless manipulation inherent in the reality shows that swarm each channel today get renewed season after season, yet shows that have depth to them, real stories, shows that take talent to create and produce are killed off ruthlessly.
More and more I turn to other entertainment mediums to fill my spare time. Reading is my primary joy, although I like watching movies as well. Music is a neverending source of joy for me. But television? I find it is now staying turned off more nights than it is on.
RIP to some great shows:
- Dead Like Me – The Complete First Season
- Dead Like Me – The Complete Second Season
- Pushing Daisies – The Complete First Season
- Firefly – The Complete Series
- Birds of Prey: The Complete Series
- Wonderfalls – The Complete Series
- Tru Calling: The Complete Series
- Witchblade – The Complete Series
- Carnivale – The Complete First Two Seasons
- Farscape – The Complete First Season
- Farscape – The Complete Second Season
- Farscape – The Complete Third Season
- Farscape – The Complete Fourth Season
- Farscape – The Peacekeeper Wars
- Painkiller Jane
- The Pretender – Seasons 1 – 4
- Profiler Seasons 1-4 DVD Set