Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One Nightmare Ends But Another Goes On

Good news, America!! Our long national nightmare is finally over!! No, no. Not the Bush presidency. There's still 343 days of that left.

I was referring to our OTHER long national nightmare: The Hollywood writers' strike. They're voting tonight, and the new contract is expected to be approved. That means the writers themselves should be back to work tomorrow. This is wonderful news for those of us who have seen the same five episodes of Big Bang Theory ten times.

Most shows should start airing fresh episodes by April, though a few won't be back till next season. For example, Fox has decided to finish filming the current season of 24 but to hold them until NEXT January. Here's the latest list of shows that will be back with fresh episodes, as well as series that are going to wait until the fall.

Meanwhile, Jericho returns tonight with the first of its final seven episodes (The scripts had been written prior to the strike). You may recall that the series about a small Kansas town struggling to survive after some sort of nuclear attack on the country had actually been canceled at the end of last season. Viewers had been left hanging just as a neighboring town launched an attack on Jericho. The resulting uproar --driven mostly by fans over the internet--caused CBS to re-evaluate its decision and "uncancel" the show.... Sort of. The network ordered the seven more episodes in an effort to resolve the cliffhanger and bring some sort of closure to the Jericho storyline.

The real message for TV executives hidden in the Jericho tale is not about whether or not to cancel marginal series. Quite frankly, Jericho just wasn't that all that great. Interesting, yes, but it was no Shakespearean work of art for the ages. And I admit that even though I was a devoted fan.

The real lesson was that if you're running a TV network and you commit to a serialized drama, have the balls to see it through. Even if the show turns out not to be pulling in American Idol size numbers, you still owe some sort of sense of closure to the fans. If you end up pulling the plug prematurely as you did with Invasion or The Nine, you're still going to be pissing off a few million people. And if you burn them once--or several times--they will be far more reluctant to commit to your shows in the future.

0 thoughtful ramblings: