Wednesday, 10 November 2010

All Of This Has Happened Before...

...and, proving that the networks at least are doomed not to learn from their mistakes, it's happening again.

I returned recently from a vacation to New York, to read from the ether that popular science fiction drama Caprica, a show I enjoyed, has been axed by Syfy due to poor ratings performance.

A number of factors, it would seem, contributed to this: Syfy's decision to split the show's first season into two halves was one, then bringing the show back in a less favourable timeslot was no doubt responsible for a drop in audience numbers.

The remaining episodes in the season, which do not resolve storylines as the show was expected to continue to a second run, have apparently also been pulled from the schedules, to be shown 'sometime in 2011'. It is of biting irony to fans of Battlestar Galactica, the series to which Caprica is a prequel, that five episodes remain, and that these 'Final Five' will remain unaired until Syfy has a suitable gap in its schedules.

I remain mystified as to the reasoning behind the lifecycle of TV shows. While I'm fully aware that programming is produced on the basis of how much revenue it will generate, I have to wonder if executives take any interest at all in the opinions of their audiences. Do ratings alone determine a show's viability in all cases, or are other factors in play?

In the case of Syfy, who would give one to believe that the station's purpose was to deliver, if not produce, science-fiction and fantasy-related programming and whose stated slogan is 'Imagine Greater', at what level did someone decide that Professional Wrestling would be either suitable or popular programming for its audience?

That's entirely out of step with the format of the network, and would be like ESPN broadcasting Mass from the Vatican, or MTV showing music videos.

Not that a commissioning channel shouldn't be able to drop a non-performing show - Flash Gordon, for example, should never have made it to TV in the first place - but to kill something off without giving it a decent chance seems to me just wrong. And to handicap a show just so it will fail is nothing less than - I hesitate to use the word 'murder' - but you understand what I mean.

It would have been good if Syfy could have learned from the example of 'Firefly' - another well-written, well-acted show that went before its time but could have run for several years - but I doubt there'll be a reprieve.

Unless another channel buys the rights...

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