Dear Fox Executives,
Why do you always kill the things I love? Is it greed? Corporate stupidity? Do you have some spy-bugs in my house just to figure out what I like, what I’m getting passionate about, so you can hurry up and cancel it ‘cos you have something specifically against me?
One of my first recollections of this pattern is from the early 90’s, when The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. was unceremoniously cancelled after only one cracking season. Luckily, I was able to follow Bruce Campbell to other projects like Herc and Xena, but still it hurt. A clever, comical steampunk western: fresh, funny and fun. And yet away it went.
Of course, the level of cultural tragedy you created by canceling Firefly is legend. Even now, 12 years later, the level of wasted potential around that is enough to make a grown woman weep quietly in her beer — or glass of water, as “the woman” is more prone to be drinking nowadays. The show was creative, funny, suspenseful. The cast gelled in a way that is rare enough for actors to reminisce about a “once in a lifetime” job and for audience members to create clip compilations on YouTube capturing favorite lines and scenes. We Whedonites proved you wrong by making the DVD sales explode to a large enough degree that the “Big Damn Movie” happened, but none of that erases the way that Joss’s skills in the long narrative arc could have given me years of enjoyment in Firefly’s universe. But you, Fox TV? You killed that dream dead.
(Of course, in said BDM, Joss also killed a couple of the things I love, which means that even if there were a miraculous Firelfy reboot, the experience would be made more hollow. But that’s for Joss’s own “Why do you kill all the things I love?” letter — and Gaia knows, he’s earned one. And you know what, Fox TV executives? This hypothetically less-satisfying Firefly reboot is still always and eternally hypothetical because the show is never coming back. And why is that? Because you killed that dream dead.)
When you scheduled Joss’s show Dollhouse a few years later, I’m sure I was part of a legion of fans wanting to ask Mr. Whedon “What are you smoking?” Going back into business with the antichrist….that’ll end well. And I’ll admit that season 1 took a bit of time to find its footing (see exhibit A: Buffy). But Epitaph One blew the top off this universe, and showed how, once again, we were likely to get the best of the long game in seasons 2-5 (again, exhibit A: Buffy, and also exhibit B: Angel). Sure enough, season 2 was kicking ass and taking names, and yet, according to the Fox executive’s suite, that was still all she wrote.
In between these flirtations with Joss Whedon falls the aborted television run that perhaps sticks in my craw more than any other: another “screw you” to Nathan Fillion, this time for his series Drive. The official series record shows that Fox gave this 4 episodes before pulling the plug. But that doesn’t even begin to capture the indignities you made the show suffer. First you burned off the first two world-and-myth-creating episodes in the Friday night death slot, then you showed episodes 3 and 4 in the “normal” early-week slot — never mind the fact that viewers coming into the regular time slot wouldn’t be able to figure out what the hell was going on because you burned off the world-creation eps on Friday night!! Ultimate time elapsed: about a week and a half.
I know that every now and then a show hits the zeitgeist and becomes a phenomenal smash from night one, but that event is awfully rare and isn’t really something you should count on. So maybe, just maybe, you should give a show longer than 10 days?
As I was looking up some of the air dates on these broadcasting murders, I found a terrific article by Kevin Guhl on Topless Robot that catalogs many of your other crimes against TV-manity. this includes a bunch of early cancellations — like Arrested Development, The Tick, and Wonderfalls — that weren’t included in my lament because those shows just never became my personal obsessions the way Firefly, Dollhouse, Brisco County and Drive did. When all is said and done, though, how can I disagree with this trenchant analysis?
The Fox Network is the fucking devil. How many times in the last 20 years has this story repeated itself? Fox greenlights an awesome show. Many viewers love it and practically become obsessed with the show. Fox then cancels the series after a handful of episodes because the ratings did not climb fast enough for the impatient, small-minded execs at Fox. . . . The network manages to find and purchase some of the most imaginative shows on television, and then proceeds to sentence them to a quick execution to the horror of the viewing audience. Even worse, Fox itself often sabotages its own shows by poor and erratic scheduling. Fox’s sports coverage has a history of pre-empting and therefore destroying great shows. No wonder no one watched, you fucktards; they couldn’t find the show! As for ratings, Fox obviously has unrealistic expectations to think that a show will succeed so immediately, especially in a day and age when there’s so much competition.
Yeah, what he said. Give a freaking show longer than 10 days, all right?
And don’t you dare fuck with Sleepy Hollow.
You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it. For your twist, read your piece aloud, multiple times. Hone that voice of yours!
I only had to angle the topic slightly to fit this whole feminist/geek-girl/memoir thing I got going on. As for the whole “finding your voice” thing, I didn’t pay that much attention. Like I’ve said before, no matter what other insecurities I have about writing in general and blogging in specific, I’m pretty sure that I’ve found an authentic voice to use here on JALC.