Friday, May 26, 2006

Poll Results - Which show's cancellation surprised you the most?

This poll has had, if I'm not mistaken, the highest voter turnout ever for one of my polls. Thank you. I'm particularly happy about this poll because it allows me to talk about two of my favourite forms of "video involved fauna", the Rabid Fan and the Network Weasel.

There were 27 votes cast. Tied for eighth with no votes were Surface and Courting Alex. In a tie for sixth place with one vote each (3%) were Sons And Daughters and Bernie Mac. Fifth place belonged to Out Of Practice with two votes (7%) while there was a tie for third between Hope & Faith and Conviction with 3 votes (11%) each. Finally, in second place was Everwood, with 8 votes (29%) which was narrowly beaten out by Invasion with 9 votes (33%).

Heres where the "video fauna" comes into play. Let's start with the Network Weasel. In this particular example I want to look at three shows: Out Of Practice, Courting Alex and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Out of Practice started the season happily ensconced in the hammock position between Two And A Half Men and CSI: Miami. Critics were at best lukewarm about it and at worst scathing about how Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler were debasing themselves by appearing in this steaming pile of you know what. Still it was doing respectable ratings numbers. It was pulled for CBS's "hot new show" Courting Alex. Apparently this show was "hot" because it starred Jenna Elfman in a triumphal return to TV. That show was in turn pulled from the lineup after airing a grand total of six episodes in its original time slot before it was pulled for CBS's hot new comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine. Out of Practice and Courting Alex were then moved to the first hour of Wednesday night where they got hit by Deal Or No Deal where they lasted two episodes. Now here's where we get into the world of the network weasel. Which of these series do you thing had the highest average rating in that time slot between Two And A Half Men and CSI: Miami? Out of Practice was regularly getting 9.0 ratings and had a high of 10.2 for the episode that aired just before Christmas. Courting Alex premiered with a 9.6 but of the other new episodes that played in the time slot the average rating was an 8.8. The New Adventures Of Old Christine debuted in that time slot (it actually debuted earlier in the evening and on a number of occasions aired twice in a night) with a rating of 10.3 but except for one night when it had a 10.0 rating it wold never get a rating higher than 8.7 and most of the time was below 8.5. In other words both of the series that CBS cancelled did better in that time slot with that lead in than the show that they kept and hyped as a big hit" did. Such is the mind of the network weasel.

The other form of video fauna is the rabid fan. The Rabid Fan finds a show that they like and sticks to it like a barnacle on the hull of a ship. It should be said that the rabid fan usually has good taste but is often in a minority position. Arrested Development was the darling of a core group of rabid fans but did atrociously in the network ratings - I'm sorry but it's true. Sons And Daughters, a show which was innovative because of its semi-improvisational nature was gathering a core of rabid fans, but this season's magnet for the rabid fan was Invasion. The fact is however that the series never rose above third place in a time slot with three series. The ratings for the series went through a steady decline so that the rating for the season finale was a 5.3 and ratings for new episodes were rarely better than a 6.5. Television is a business and the business is selling commercials. I'm sure the Rabid Fan understands this but they become a bit short sighted when it comes to "their show".

If I were to point to a show that is a truly surprising may be The CW's decision to drop Everwood and retain One Tree Hill. Neither show was a huge ratings success by most standards but Everwood improved markedly once it was moved to Monday Nights following 7th Heaven. I'm going to hazard a guess and suggest that the Network Weasels at The CW felt that Everwood would only really work with its ratings "giant" 7th Heaven and they wanted to have that spot for Runaway.

New poll shortly, on shows that were kept that surprised you.

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