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Is Fantasy inspired programing dead? (1 Viewer)

Nelson Au

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With the news that Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone effectively being cancelled and a show like Journey Man cancelled last season, is this an indication that the general audience have no interest in imaginative fantasy inspired type shows?

Science fiction has a certain degree of believability perhaps an audience can deal with? Which could explain the success of Knight Rider (aside from another poster who suggested that it had great product placement and funding, but Ford has gone to the Government for a handout). Who wouldn't want a super car as your pal, that was why I liked the original with Hasselhoff. The new one, I am indifferent to.

Battlestar Galactica is finishing it's final season, and I think that show came at a good time and worked with the audience.

Something that I thought made Pushing Daisies hard to really like is you know the 2 main lovers could never get together, perhaps that was an issue. The characters were all engaging and the production design was terrific! Storylines are okay, I did like the way they had a set format, "The facts are these....."

Maybe Journey Man was too hard to understand and keep track of. Eli Stone revealed he gets orders from God. Perhaps no one is into that concept.

I'm guessing that the state of America, with the economic down turn and troubled times for so many, they aren't interested in this kind of TV fare. Which is why I thought Dirty Sexy Money might do better. It's a fantasy based on reality and is a soap opera of Dynasty proportions. Perhaps no one is interested in seeing how the obscenely rich live and is why it's failed too. They need something else?

ABC is still behind Life on Mars. That's a fantasy and a period piece. Lost is still popular but I suspect interest is waning. Heroes has been seen as going downhill story wise, but I don't know how that is ding ratings wise. I see Heroes and Lost as science fiction, so it could be the reason they are still here.

Any thoughts? I realize there is no known formula for success, it's a crapshoot.
 

Greg_S_H

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I'm glad Eli Stone failed because Guggenheim is a putz. Other than that, I watch Pushing Daisies, but the general audience is going to have little patience for the material. The "clever" wordplay like The Magic Book of Magic and other numerous instances where they use the same words twice are kind of a turn off even for me. Frankly, I liked all of last season but have only really responded to one episode this season. If a fan is losing his patience, I can't imagine newcomers falling in love with it.

I don't think there's some grand socioeconomic reason these shows are failing. PD is quirky and a tough sell by its nature. I can't explain Journeyman and My Own Worst Enemy other than a guess that Heroes hasn't been the great lead-in NBC had hoped it would be. It didn't help that the general audience has been losing patience with Heroes for two seasons now. And, Enemy has too expensive a cast to stick around without an audience.

Joe and Jason can give you a much more insightful analysis.
 

Lou Sytsma

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My problem with shows like Pushing Daisies is that there is no sense of tension because they treat life and death so trivially. I tried watching this and while I enjoyed the whimsy, the cavalier way the characters referenced death undermine my capacity to empathize with them.
 

ScottH

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There's still 'True Blood', which is probably a better show than all mentioned.
 

Stan

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Do enjoy Eli Stone and Life on Mars. Will miss Eli, but it's not nearly as enjoyable as last season.

Also liked New Amsterdam and Moonlight from last year, but they also failed. Haven't seen some of the others mentioned, but not seeing a lot of success from this fantasy style show.

Medium is still around, but it may be considered a little more mainstream. Looks like it's returning in January for 19 episodes. Originally to be moved to Sundays against Desperate Housewives, may be staying on Mondays now that My Own Worst Enemy has been pulled.

Greg, what's the story with Guggenheim? All I know is he has a comicbook background, but seems to have written for several successful TV shows.
 

Jason Seaver

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Actually, Guggenheim is considered to come from a TV background within comics.

I don't think fantastic programming is dead, not hardly. If anything, there's a glut: Fox programs 2-4 hours a week (depending what you consider the animation), CW 2 hours, NBC 4 hours, ABC about 3, CBS 1 or 2 (depending how you categorize Eleventh Hour). Then there's what's on cable and Legend of the Seeker. Twenty years ago, sci-fi fans figured we had it pretty good with both Max Headroom and Star Trek: The Next Generation running at once, and maybe Beauty and the Beast was also on.

It's a numbers game, to an extent. There's ten times as much programming in the genres right now than there used to be, but the same number of people aren't watching ten times as much. I used to watch any old sci-fi or fantasy that was on TV, but now I can blow Lost and Eli Stone off if they don't really interest me rather than hanging on hoping they get better.

As to why the specific ones that are failing right now are failing, I think it's less the fantasy elements than the serial ones. Most of these shows involve a larger story or a learning curve, and the risk with that is that the audience decides it's not worth the effort that the shows are asking of them. Take something like My Own Worst Enemy, which opens with a four-episode storyline that isn't very forgiving of missing an episode before the show reaches "can't-miss" status. That's not a problem with it having a fantastic premise; that's just not smart execution.
 

Patrick Sun

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Let's be grateful that Supernatural is still on, regardless of low ratings during its entire run, but if the CW had canned it earlier in its infancy, we wouldn't have this fun 4th season to watch, and it's getting better and better with each episode.

Sadly, in this era of the "short attention span" viewing public, the serialized TV show faces an uphill climb, unlike the stand-alone style of TV shows, and it appears that the viewing public would rather not have to keep up with a show's continuity for things to pay off in the storytelling on a weekly basis.
 

Greg_S_H

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It wouldn't be around on any channel outside the CW. I believe it makes cancellation numbers on any major network, and I don't know anyone who has ever even heard of it. Is your enthusiasm for the season the common view, because I was under the impression that many were bemoaning the complete loss of the urban legend hook?
 

Patrick Sun

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Based on those who do watch Supernatural, the general online consensus is that this season is da bomb! (tm)
 

Jason Seaver

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Well, that's going to be true for most shows - the people who watch it generally like it.
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Supernatural has done a better job of most of integrating done-in-one stories with a bigger storyline, but part of the reason for that is that it manages to clear the deck every once in a while.

The thing is, this sort of serialization for genre shows is a relatively recent invention; it's not like there's some sort of time in the past where audiences stuck with heavily serialized shows from the get-go. Before Hill Street Blues and the like, there was a much sharper line between pure soaps and everything else.

I think that what a lot of the people making these more serial shows miss is that many of the ones which succeeded in the past started out much more episodic (even the first year or two of Babylon 5 is mostly self-contained stories), growing more serial as the shows went on. Heck, even most 24 episodes manage to have a beginning, middle, and end that is somewhat self-contained so that the audience comes away satisfied.

I think a lot of producers have a difficult time seeing the difference between "leave them wanting more" and not showing that they can do anything but tease. Fantastic premises are even more vulnerable to this, I think, because you do need to establish rules and background, but all too often that does more to frustrate the viewer and box the writers in than to create an environment where you can tell a good new story every week.
 

Nelson Au

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So it seems that my question is based on an erroneous assumption, that fantasy based programing is not really the issue. It's coincidental as there is a large number of them being produced now. I agree, that there's been a surprising glut of them now!

It's the got to have the right combination of elements that have a broad appeal. Having a fantasy based premise really doesn't have anything to do with it.

Good points raised here! Too many rules or running storylines that require a degree of dedication to follow can be a turn off, so some viewers would give-up, unless there was some strong elements that made it compelling to tune in weekly. Heroes first season did that. I must confess that I really liked Pushing Daisies but it started to lose my interest the last few weeks. Not sure why, perhaps the novelty wore off. My Own Worst Enemy was difficult to keep track who was who, and I watched the pilot. Eli Stone I can see some perhaps got tired of the kinds of cases Eli took on.
 

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