No, really, I do. If you are one of those stubborn people who haven’t been watching Jericho or Veronica Mars, I hate you.
Veronica Mars, currently finishing up its third season, is probably one of the best shows on television. While other shows that ran season long plots often wound up with entirely unwatchable episodes that could never be watched alone, Veronica Mars managed to have every episode contain its own plot while still throwing clues and furthering the main season plot. It was smart and funny. And it has been cancelled because of people like you.
Jericho is in the same boat. When I first read the plot of the show, I was skeptical, but after watching it, they really managed to pull off the “Terrorists nuke a bunch of cities and throws the US into chaos” world brilliantly. Like Veronica Mars, every episode was tight and contained its own mini story, a plot resolved in one episode, while also serving the greater overall plot. It too has been cancelled.
Of course, I cannot lay all the blame at your feet. This season, the networks, and I mean all the networks, really screwed up by putting so many shows on a multitude of hiatuses. Seasons broken in half or in thirds, shows constantly bumped in hopes of getting higher ratings from specials and game shows. The one thing they don’t seem to understand is, the main reason a high rated show stays high rated is the ability of the audience to find and watch the show. Jericho did great until the hiatus… it never recovered. Even powerhouse Lost slumped in the ratings after a promising start. Standoff might have done better if they’d ever actually put it back on the air. It ran 11 episodes up until December 12th when it got put on hiatus to return on March 30th… wait, April 6th… now, June 8th where it will be on Friday instead of its original Tuesday slot for its remaining 8 episodes (maybe). Fans like me just wanted to watch the show, but I can’t watch it if they don’t air it.
As it is, many shows don’t even get that far. Runaway, Kidnapped, Vanished, Studio 60, The Black Donnellys, Drive, Day Break, Happy Hour, Justice, The Nine, Six Degrees, The Wedding Bells, Smith, Raines… Lots of these shows didn’t even start with full order seasons, or even half orders. Networks are often hedging their bets by ordering 6 or 7 episodes, and as a viewer if I know that a show may only run 6 or 7 episodes I am going to be less likely to tune in. Its seems that gone are the days of building an audience, if a show doesn’t come out of the gates booming with success its not likely to stick around, and with prospects like that is it really any surprise that the viewers aren’t showing up?
TV has one more season, if this fall is a repeat of last fall with all the show cancellations after one or two airings, they are going to lose me as a customer. They might get my business on the back end when a show goes to DVD, but they’ll never get my ad revenue dollars.
I honestly think the business model has to change. At a minimum, Sweeps Weeks need to go away. Networks should be rated for their advertising based on viewership average for the entire year. Maybe that alone would go a long way to ensuring that they took care of their shows all year long instead of just a couple a months scattered throughout. After considering it a while, I’d be willing to pay as much as $1 an episode downloaded to my TV without commercials through and On Demand like system, even on my Xbox360 if it had to be. Maybe networks should consider going that route, dump this 24/7 programming model that is full of trash anyway and focus on making a handful of solid engaging hours per day.
Whatever they do, mostly they need to recognize, you can’t have loyal viewers if you are not loyal to your viewers. Someone has to start, and since it would be stupid to ask viewers to watch things that don’t interest them, the networks have to start by letting shows that don’t launch fantastically stick around to see if the viewers can find it.