Posted by: Captain Easychord | September 17, 2009

Must See TV

In anticipation of this fall’s new television season, Dan and Sean have made their picks for which shows aren’t long for production.  I don’t pay any attention to television ratings and I’m only vaguely aware of the cancellation rumormills, so I can’t really speak to whether these are wise choices or not.  Nevertheless, I do know that genuinely good television shows seem to be canceled on an almost annual basis.

Two seasons ago, Jericho wasn’t renewed for the 2009 season, despite a significant campaign by fans of the show to have it renewed.  More famously, Firefly saw its run cut short in 2002 after just 11 episodes despite being – objectively – the best show in television history.   Jericho and Firefly were both very good shows with strong characters, good pacing and excellent writing.  It’s a damned shame that the full stories of these shows couldn’t be told.

It is important to note that quality doesn’t necessarily translate to large viewership and that the decision to give a show the axe is primarily an assessment of numbers.  But usually there’s more to the story than that. Why do good shows get bad ratings?  How much of that has to do with poor time slots, lead-ins and promotion?  How much of a good show’s failure to generate ratings is the fault of poor choices by network executives?

Furthermore, is there something that can be done to prevent more excellent shows from meeting a premature demise again?  After all, in a world with 500 channels (and nothing on), you would think that someone would have a timeslot for a show with a substantial and devoted following.  Unfortunately, the market for television shows doesn’t seem to facilitate network-to-network show movements… even among networks that are all under the same corporate roof.

From a more practical perspective, I suspect that giving more credence to word-of-mouth recommendations might help.  I had never seen an episode of Jericho or Firefly before they were canceled… the buzz just hadn’t reached me fast enough.  So when the recommendations come rolling in, listen up!  The TV show you save just might be a future fave.

To that end, Sean recommends his #2 most endangered show: Better off Ted. I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll try to tune in sometime. As it just so happens, I’m a big fan of Chuck, Sean’s show 7th most likely to be canceled and I give it the full Corsairs’ Affairs recommendation.  Chuck’s had a rough go of things, weathering rough competition in its timeslot (Monday, 8:00), the writer’s guild strike and a presidential pre-emption, but the critics routinely praise Chuck for its smart writing and appealing characters.  Many critics even joined in the “Save Chuck” effort that potentially kept it on the air.

NBC will be bringing Chuck back after the Winter Olympics for a run of 13 shows.  With some extra time to put together 13 great episodes, heavy promotional opportunities during the Vancouver games and a run of shows uninterrupted by the World Series, winter holidays or the Super Bowl, Chuck probably is positioned about as well as it can be for the coming season.  I’ll make sure to remind everyone before it starts up again.  In the meantime, you all have time to go back and catch up on the show’s first two seasons.  Do that and you won’t need my reminder for the third season.

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Responses

  1. Good shows are sometimes cancelled, that is true — be they victims of marketing or simply not generating as much interest among fans as critics. But “good” is to some degree, as I always say, in the eye of the beholder.

    For instance, some cancelled shows are critical darlings, like Arrested Development or the more old school favorite of mine, My So Called Life. But, as I recall, Jericho was actually one of the most *panned* (perhaps even safe to say “ridiculed”) of that year in critical circles. At least going into the season. So each situation is usually unique, and using any one standard for what is “good,” from critics to the masses, isn’t so trustworthy.

    • while jericho was still on the air, I remember hearing lots of positive buzz about it… that may have been mostly from its substantial hardcore fanbase, but any scripted show that can stir up that much passion is presumably doing *something* right, no?

      the critical reaction to the show was mixed… looking back at some of the reviews posted on metacritic, I see that they generally judge the whole of the show based on two episodes… now I’m sure that’s how a casual viewer might choose what to watch and I’ll bet it’s all the critics had to go by, but it’s still an awfully small sample upon which to be making any judgments about an entire series… just look at heroes… it parlayed maybe half a good season into five seasons of crap… *sigh*

  2. […] regularly scheduled time, getting the show’s third season started with a bang.  I’ve previously mentioned how good “Chuck” is, what with the smart writing, appealing characters and pop culture […]


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