Friday, November 13, 2009

Dollhouse canceled and in other news, Fox still a bunch of idiots

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse has been kicked to the curb after non-fantastic ratings.

I'll be the first to admit, this show wasn't for everyone. As we all know, I'm a big fan of Whedon's work but watching the show it was very much a case of "if you haven't liked anything else the man has done, you ain't going to like this."

But while that may have been some of the problem (and I'll wager maybe a minor issue) the bigger issue is the following.

Fox is a bunch of morons.

Okay that's not fair. Whoever it is who wants something to work in that Friday night kiss of death time slot are morons.

You see my friends this goes back quite a while ago. In fact this stems from a small incident in the fall of 1993.

It was a Friday.

It was 9pm.

And a show debuted called The X-Files.

Now if you are around my age you remember how awesome the X-Files were, especially when it first started. It had a good budget, decent actors, well written scripts (despite being essentially a monster of the week show) and most importantly...


Nothing. It had been a long time since we had gotten something this good out of sci-fi/horror tv but it also had that uniqueness that appealed to a lot more then just the nerd crowd. I remember a friend of mine in high school whose mother basically had the entire house hold stop at 9pm so she could watch the show in peace.

And the ratings for those first few seasons went steadily up until it became a juggernaut of a show. It even got a spin off feature film in season five which was unheard of at the time for a show that was still airing new episodes.

Now this has not been lost on Fox...although in many ways, those of us who like genre tv wish it had been.

Since the X-Files moved (and subsequently left the air) from Friday nights. Fox has treated this as it's sword in the stone timeslot. Meaning if they can just get a show unique and odd enough to step up and grab that timeslot, Fox will rule the airwaves on Friday nights, a time slot largely abandoned by other networks due to low numbers.

What Fox hasn't realised is that The X-Files was a once in a life time sort of thing.

You know why no one watches tv on Fridays?

The age group you are gunning for has a life and pvr.

Take myself for instance. I'm now in my early 30's and Friday nights usually have me out with friends somewhere. I at a bar, or at a party or a movie with some woman I've suckered into going.

It has to be a really good show for me not to go out. Like more amazing then anything ever. Why? Because I know I can download it, catch it online, on demand on my cable, etc. Unfortunately ratings only capture people watching it in real time.

The X-Files came before pvrs (you had vcrs but they could be unreliable or the people in your home could screw up the taping while you were out) and it had writing that appealed to everyone, not just nerds.

How bad has Fox been with this time slot? Well I should say range in time slot so let's say 8-10.

Let's take a look shall we? (I'll make a quick not about each show because some of these are long forgotten and you may not get the full impact)

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr (1993-1994)

Bruce Campbell's awesome cowboy show. This was father son bonding time at my house as we both enjoyed the show's off beat humor. It was like a modernised western serial with some steampunk elements in it. It ran for 27 episodes the same year the X-Files started.

Mantis (1994 - 1995)

Kind of like Batman but produced by Sam Rami. Made it 20 episodes before being cancled.

Sliders (1995 - 1997)

Now Sliders fared a little better...although it was initially canceled in it's first season, fan protest brought it back. The moral of the story? As I've mentioned, nerds can be a hard core bunch but it isn't a huge audience. After the 3rd season, Sc-Fi network took it for two more seasons.

Strange Luck (1995 -1996)

A dude who had weird luck. Basically wherever he turned up, weird shit followed.

VR.5 (1995) I looked this up because I don't remember it all. It lasted 13 had something to do with virtual reality

Brimstone (1998-1999)

Cop bring the devil souls

Greed (1999 -2000)

A game show

The Lone Gunmen (2001)

A spin off from the X-Files

And the list goes on and on. On wikipedia the Fox entry on Friday Night Death Slot lists over 30 tv shows in the period from X-Files onward that either began and died there or where Fox thought moving a show there might save them. I will be fair and say that some of the shows listed were on it's last legs. If it was the Friday slot killed Married with Children in it's a 11th season, it was purely out of mercy. There was a couple of mild success as well. Millennium probably didn't help maters in the "weird shows that work" but it was an X-Files spin off but it only lasted three seasons and the X-Files rub certainly didn't help The Lone Gunmen.

Now while I understand Fox can't completely give up on Fridays, they can't air static (although I'd say static would be better then The Return of Jezebel James or The Wedding Bells) but come on!

Out of the 30 I'd say there are at least a good ten to fifteen shows that would have done much better somewhere else. Brisco County JR for instance would have made a great fit on Sunday nights a traditional night for family friendly tv. Wonderfalls would have been great as part of a Tuesday or Wednesday block.

Stop putting high profile shows in there to die. Would Dollhouse been canceled if it wasn't on Fridays? Maybe not but I can guarantee it would have done a shit ton better then it did.

Of course Joss Whedon should have known better. Another casualty in that time slot?

Whedon's Firefly.

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