...Last week the television networks held "Upfronts Week" - for those not familiar with the term it means they unveiled their Fall schedule. The shows that are new, the shows that are returning, and what didn't make it (usually known because they're not mentioned or on the schedule).
Almost every year my heart, that of a television junkie, gets broken because something I enjoy inevitably gets canceled, and usually when it's in the middle of a story arc. Now, some shows crawl off and die an honorable death - they know it's coming, and they write a decent closing episode. Tie off old storylines, resolve conflicts, send folks off into the sunset happy.
They did that with The West Wing, St. Elsewhere, Cheers, Friends, many many others. Then there are those that don't know it's coming and they leave off with a cliffhanger or something else unresolved. Like Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Quantum Leap, and now, Jericho.
Yes, I actually watched Jericho. For the entire season. And I enjoyed it. Oh I know it was totally out there and completely unbelievable, but the drama over the little town and what the television writers made them face every week: limited food supplies, having to rely on generators, threats from wandering people and from the next town. CBS did a bad bad thing by canceling the show for those devoted.
There were others that faced the ax too - The Nine, Six Degrees, Standoff, Drive, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. All good shows if given the chance to thrive, but networks were too focused on finding that next spark that takes off instantly. The next Lost, if you will. Those don't happen every day, and I don't know that the networks can hang their hats on Pushing Daisies or Dirty Sexy Money to take off and be successful right away. I think Studio 60, if given the right time slot and some time, could have easily made it a few seasons - this is Aaron Sorkin guys, his work takes time to develop and it's always classic.
But I hate upfronts week - it's a source of frustration and it's when the rumor mills sometime prove true. Those things you hear that someone is already working on another pilot, or that the show *is* going to be canceled. We saw it with The Nine - anyone who watches Grey's Anatomy knew that that was coming when you saw Tim Daly on the spin off episode setup. And the spin off got picked up - oh goody, I'm so not interested. And they've pretty much just killed Grey's by doing that because Kate Walsh has such a great character. Perfect for the neurosis of Seattle Grace, not so much for the psychosis that is the wellness clinic she's going to be at.
The upside is the power of the internet and the power of fans. Apparently a statement has been released that Jericho fans will get closure of some kind. There will be a resolution to the story. What doesn't make sense is that they (CBS) state that they really like the show, the network VP loves the show, it was a difficult decision, etc. I can understand the economics of keeping on a show that's got a good solid ratings base, and whether or not something else is going to do better. But then so many people at the network allegedly "love the show", then why is it getting canceled. You know what CBS was looking at adding to the schedule (that might still make it on as a mid-season)? A story about a small town that fights a zombie invasion, called Babylon Fields.
Excuse me? You're going to go from a post-holocaust situation to a zombie situation? I think I know which one I'd rather watch. Jericho, all the way - I don't want the "I see dead people" thing going on here. Speaking of dead, reality television is almost there (yay!) but the new thing is science fiction. Vampires, time travelers, a man who can bring back the dead with a single touch (and kill them permanently if he touches them again - this is the previously mentioned Pushing Daises).
Science fiction is the new reality. With shows like Heroes, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica doing so well for their respective networks, what programming executive can resist the siren song of ratings with science fiction. This year on television will be the year of the sci-fi geek...
...which is ok with me as long as they produce something worth watching.