"Premature" cancellations - justified?

Holadem

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As I browse through threads dealing with new shows this fall, I am surprised at how often I see a series dismissed after two or even a SINGLE episode. This attitude stands in stark contrast with the complaints regularly leveled against broadcaster's practice of killing shows after a handful of episodes.

While it's understandable that some elements of a show (format, performers) can be immediately and permanently off-putting to a first time viewer, more often than not, if the show's premise was interesting enough to warrant checking out, then it has enough potential to warrant more than a single-episode evaluation. Yet few appear to be willing to go those lengths.

With such quick judgements, is it any wonder producers & broadcasters often resort to the traditional easy and shallow hooks (T&A) in order to retain audiences which are more fickle than ever, as these threads show?

Why should broadcasters who bear the entirety of the financial risks, give a show a chance when viewers whose risk is non-existent, won't?

--
H
 

Patrick Sun

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If the leads characters aren't interesting, or are off-putting, then that's more likely the reason why the audience doesn't return (or show up in the first place, given the amount of promotion that goes into the new shows). It's not all T&A that gets people to return to a show, it's about the characters, and the struggles/obstacles/situations they have to overcome. Even if it's a comedy, the lead character(s) has to bring the funny each and every episode. Dramas require an empathetic hook for the audience. Interesting doesn't equal always likeable, it could also mean brilliant, sarcastic, insightful, anything that stimulates the viewer's interest.
 

MarkMel

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Also people don't want to invest time in a series for fear of it getting canceled out from under them. So if it doesn't look like it going to go gangbusters from the get go, why bother watching?
 

Chris Lockwood

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Sounds like you are assuming the audience is one block of people. If I watch the first episode & decide not to watch any more, that doesn't mean the show should be cancelled. Everyone did not watch the episode- some will tune in week 2 or 3 or later & like the show.

The network should have more faith in a show than a given viewer does. By putting it on the air, they are saying it has a chance of lasting. But the fact that I tune in doesn't have any bearing on the show's success.

Many shows get pulled before people get a chance to see them.
 

Jon Martin

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With so many shows on TV, (not to mention cable, DVD, the internet, carnivals, puppet shows, movie theatres, books) If you watch a show, don't like it, why should you continue to watch it when there is something else out there to see?

The network should know if a show improves in quality along the way. If it doesn't, and there is no audience, then they have reason to pull it.
 

Kevin Hewell

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I wonder how many shows that became classics would even last past one or two eps. Imagine if all anyone had to go on for Seinfeld was the pilot. Would that show have become the hit it did if it had to deal with the type of attitude that seems so prevalent today among the executives and the audience?
 

Ken Chan

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That may not be true -- if not now, then in the near future. The cable companies and TiVo can know what you have set to record on DVRs, and what those boxes actually watch.
 

LarryDavenport

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Though you are technically correct that we could rate programs that way, including the ones we record, privacy advicates have blocked this idea for years. I think as long it's strictly voluntary I would like the idea, but I am not usually embarrased by what I am watching on TV (except maybe the 15 minites of Barely Legal I can get through from On Demand)
. It would be nice to think that we would get more shows like Arrested Development and The Office, but I afraid we might get 24 hours of wrestling and Judge Joe Brown.
 

Walter C

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I used to thought that networks were obligated to air all the episodes that have been produced, but obivously that is not the case.
 

Patrick Sun

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Cue up Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and that explains the network's hasty cancellations of underwhelming and underperforming shows (in terms of content and ratings).
 

Chad R

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They have to pay for them, but they don't have to air them. Sometimes it makes more financial sense to not air something that they paid for and air something that will pull in more ratings and more money.
 

Kevin Grey

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What I think he is saying (and I agree with) is that often with shows that were deemed to have been unjustly cancelled there are cries of "sure, it didn't start off great, but it really picked up later and damn _insert network_ for cancelling the show before the audience found it." Yet even if some shows with lackluster starts do manage to turn themselves around these days, so many people have already written the show off based on their initial viewing then there the improved quality is almost meaningless since the viewers have already been lost.

To add to the Seinfeld example- just imagine judging Babylon 5, Buffy, or X-Files off of just their first episode or two.
 

Walter C

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I understand networks cancelling shows. It just sucks that cancelled shows that I've enjoyed, I won't get a chance to see all the episodes. And it's unlikely that they'll have a DVD release.
 

Chris Lockwood

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> Yet even if some shows with lackluster starts do manage to turn themselves around these days, so many people have already written the show off based on their initial viewing then there the improved quality is almost meaningless since the viewers have already been lost.

Again, you are assuming everyone has already seen the show, which is the opposite of the point I was making. If the first episodes are low-rated, there are a lot of people who haven't seen the show yet who may tune in later. By yanking the show early, those viewers never get a chance to see it.

This practice also seems to assume the network will have something else to show instead that will get higher ratings right away, which is unlikely.
 

Jason Seaver

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But is it worth the network's time and money to chase after those viewers? Maybe it was when Cheers or All in the Family was struggling, but that was a three-network (plus PBS) world without pervasive entertainment reporting that tells anyone who might be interested that its ratings sucked and its prospects for long-term survival aren't good. Today, with five to eight networks (depending how you want to count MyNetworkTV, Pax, and PBS), specialized cable channels, and an orgy of entertainment news, and the risk seems a lot higher for much less reward.
 

Chris Lockwood

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> it seems that the replacement does get higher ratings - that audiences really would rather watch a crime procedural rerun or "World's ____est ______ Videos"

Then why not just schedule those things in the first place, instead of developing a new show, only to cancel it after 2-3 airings?


> But is it worth the network's time and money to chase after those viewers? Maybe it was when Cheers or All in the Family was struggling, but that was a three-network (plus PBS) world

It makes MORE sense to give shows more time, when there are so many more channels & other options now.

If it took MASH time to find an audience when there were only 3 channels, how long would it take now that there are 100+?

It used to be fairly easy to catch all the new shows each fall, but now there are so many it's tough to do before something gets cancelled (unless you watch the "most likely to get canned" ones first).

But thanks for supporting my argument!
 

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