November 20, 2008

What deserves to go? Cancellation 2008 (+ How the Half Hour Sitcom Returns)

It's that time of year again, although it seems that some of the biggest names are in for the chance of a lifetime, to be cancelled.
After scrolling through the latest numbers, the viewing public are changing their methods. Instead of watching the weekly serials, where we must watch each episode to understand the story, instead don't have enough time. Or is that the case? Is it actually the fact that television is dumbing down, do we prefer to watch the half hour sitcom where we actually get 20 mins of comedy and 10 of commercials?
With numbers for the recent, 'How I Met Your Mother' reaching an all time high (9.8 Million viewers) and Heroes with it's matched low from last week (7.6 Million), this really begs the question, what are we turning the watch?
As an avid viewer of The CW's 'Gossip Girl', I was surprised to see that the recent Thanksgiving episode, 'The Magnificent Archibald's' got the lowest rating for this series, with just under 3 million and The CW's misery does not stop there, 'One Tree Hill' has been slipping under the strain of the half hour sitcom as well.
After the recent news that NBC's new drama, 'My Own Worst Enemy' staring Christian Slater has been cancelled after only nine episodes, although NBC has not officially annouced this (they prefer not to admit they failed). But the drama came over whether 'Lipstick Jungle' is cancelled. Variety initially cited sources as saying Lipstick was done, but nothing ever officially came down from NBC.
New York Time Report-
"As of this week, the show is breathing again. The reason: it showed signs of life this past Friday, and it picked up 50 percent more viewers when delayed viewing (from DVRs and other devices) was included in the episode a week earlier.
The show also received an outpouring of support from fans.
Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, said Monday that NBC will now definitely finish the 13 episodes that the network originally ordered -- it has 4 more episodes to run -- and may order more if the show "grows more.""

Says star Brooke Shields:
"They thought that because My Own Worst Enemy has been shut down that the same thing had happened to us, and it's not true. They're not breaking down the sets. We're still working. We still have more to do, so it's erroneously presented that we've been canceled, thank God.
Our bosses are saying, 'You're not canceled, don't worry. We're just trying to figure out how to make this make sense.'"

My eyes are currently on shows like 'Heroes', it seems with ever decreasing ratings throughout the current season, has seen the internet rife with rumours that NBC's current best friend could be shoved off.
Tim Kring has urged more people to start watching Heroes during its current season. Speaking at a recent Screenwriting Expo, he urged potential viewers to "come on in" because "the water’s fine", according to Sy Fy Portal. “You can hop on the train and you won't have missed too much," he said.
Ratings for the show have steadily decreased during the third season, prompting Kring to speculate that current viewing habits are to blame. "It's a very flawed way of telling stories on network television right now because of the advent of the DVR and online streaming," he claimed. "So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dips***s who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way."

Now, is it just me or this either sarcasm or just rudeness, one way or another, something could very easily have been taken out of context, but for Kring to even say something like this, begs the question, how much is this show for the viewers.
To just invite new viewers weeks in season three? What about the loyal viewers? What about all those people who have tangled with the story of the superheroes since Season 1?

A show which has already been placed in the cancellation zone before it's even premiered is Joss Whedon's new drama, 'Dollhouse'.
Let me count the ways when it comes to Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse' and it's cancellation:

1. Whedon already has a sordid history with FOX. Do you remember Firefly?
Whedon original, FOX cancelled. Shelf life: 12 episodes (3 unaired), sometimes aired out of order (the original pilot was aired on FOX only after the show was canceled).
2. Whedon reshoots the pilot. Apparently the first one didn't make all that much sense.
3. Production delay of 2 weeks.
4. More production delays.
5. The new trailer looks intriguing, yet reveals no additional direction for the series from the old trailer. For a show being accused of being aimless, that ain't good.
6. And the killer: FOX slots Dollhouse on Fridays. It premieres February 13th at 9PM. Historically, nobody watches show on Fridays unless they're CBS crime procedurals. Recent Friday deaths: Moonlight, The Ex List, Lipstick Jungle (maybe?). Also soon to be dead: Crusoe. There you go, decide what you will but it seems FOX are in no way happy to extend the relation with Whedon longer than they have to.

Another show rumoured to be coming to an end is the FOX baby, 'Prison Break'.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, cast and production members from Prison Break have been told by FOX that they may be filming an additional two episodes this season, but it may come with a huge catch.
They also report that those extra two episodes may serve as a series finale...yep, a series finale.
The idea behind the logic starts with Prison Break's ratings, which are down (surprise!), but also includes the fact that Prison Break was not placed on Fox's recent midseason schedule (House and 24 will be moving to Mondays, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was ostracized to Fridays, is that a sign?).
Prison Break is routinely one of those shows that is on the bubble when it comes time to cancel shows, but its ardent fan base has kept it afloat.
However, the two episodes could serve as a non-series-ending "event" (like 24: Redemption) that would air later, or could be DVD extras. It's all quite confusing at this point.
Again, this is all conjecture at the moment.

And 'Pushing Daisies', remember the show that was going to change the face of fantasy television forever?
The facts are these: Things aren't looking good for our beloved Pushing Daisies. The ABC drama, once cherished as a breath of fresh air in another monotonous television season is now surrounded by the putrid stink of death.
Production on the show's initial 13-episode order wraps up today, and guess what...ABC still hasn't ordered more from the Pushing Daisies producers.
According to, ABC spokespeople have stated that no decision has been made yet on Pushing Daisies, but all signs point to "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya!"

Ratings for Pushing Daisies have declined dramatically from its debut season, despite the fact that the quality of season two seems to be on par with season one. Many blame the writers' strike, which shortened season one and left ABC to decide between bringing the show back for a few episodes late last year, or take a break and bring it back full-force for a reintroduction this season. ABC chose the latter, and it's believed that the plan backfired.
So what's the plan if Pushing Daisies is canceled? Well, it's good news for Heroes, oddly enough. The incredibly talented creator of Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller, told that he would be open to returning to Heroes, where he worked on season one (not coincidentally the show's finest season by far, although with Heroes current state, I would question that).
"I am exclusive to Daisies through the delivery of the 13th episode of our 13-episode order, which will be mid-January," Fuller told "If Daisies isn't picked up by then, I will definitely be going back to play with my friends at Heroes."
Fuller also said that should Pushing Daisies get wiped off the face of television, he would like to finish the story in graphic novel form. Just keep the bright colors and witty dialogue, please, and let Chuck and Ned get it on for Pete's sake!
Mourn with us, Pushing Daisies fans. And for those who can't get enough Daisies, I highly recommend checking out Fuller's Daisies-esque Wonderfalls on DVD. (Bonus: Lee Pace was in that too, and yeah, that was canceled before its time as well.)

FX has set return dates for original hourlong dramas "Nip/Tuck" and "Damages."
"Nip/Tuck" will begin the first leg of its sixth season on Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 10 p.m., queuing up for an eight-episode run. Series, which stars Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon as successful plastic surgeons, is tops in its target demo of adults 18-34 among basic-cable originals.
"Damages," meanwhile, will begin its second 13-episode campaign Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 10 p.m. Series star Glenn Close is coming off an Emmy win for lead actress.

Other shows in the danger zone this season include Chuck, Dirty Sexy Money and Smallville... we will just have to see.

So to the arguement in question, the half hour sitcom seems to be doing pretty well at the moment. Dip in and out when you want, within minutes of watching an episode you understand what is happening. Samantha Who?. The Big Bang Theory. How I Met Your Mother. Would you like me to continue? Do we have the time anymore to watch serials? Can people not be bothered to wonder what is happening from week to week about Seattle Grace or The Upper East Side? Or is it simply television dumbing down? Is 20 mins of situation comedy enough from day to day... is the time span of television watchers decreasing? With the already rampid demostrations from groups telling us that television is rotting our brain, is this just another sign that really as a group of people, we just don't care. Has our emotional attachment to storylines and development of characters gone so far? Is this the point of no return?

Sources: Variety Magazine,,,

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