Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Give Us Our Endings!

In the UK we're quite lucky because when the latest US sensation comes to our screens we already know whether it's been cancelled or whether it is steaming ahead into its second, third or fourth season. This means that we can already choose whether or not we want to invest ourselves in getting to know and like a bunch of characters in time for them to disappear without a trace, usually left hanging over a cliff in any number of life-threatening situations.

Nobody likes having their favourite shows axed by any television network (look at the campaign to get JERICHO reinstated), but the truth is that any show is going to go out the window if it doesn't have the following necessary to bring in the big bucks from the advertisers (we're lucky to have the BBC in that respect as well).

Sometimes our science fiction loving counterparts over there in the US don't even get a chance to see a whole series before it is taken off the air. The likes of HAUNTED, POINT PLEASANT, EASTWICK and one of the all time favourites (according to the number of visits the page on The Sci Fi Freak Site gets compared to all the others) AMERICAN GOTHIC didn't get a full run out on the US station first time around. All of these were shown in full (though not necessarily in the right order) in the UK when they were shown.

Now it doesn't matter how quickly a show fails to make the grade in terms of money and success, it will pick a number of fans no matter how short a time it gets. Those fans will be hurt by the sudden loss of the show. We're starting to think here that every time we get to like something it gets summarily axed. Those fans deserve to be shown a little bit of respect by the networks that commissioned the show in the first place.

We believe, therefore, that a new contracting system should be entered into that compel anyone commissioning a new series to offer a TV movie sorting out all of the hanging plot threads to any of the shows that are cancelled.

That might sound a bit much, but we refer you to three examples where this has been done. The first is FARSCAPE, which was cancelled after the end of the fourth season with two major characters left in bits (literally). In order to resolve that particular storyline, a two part mini-series known as THE PEACEKEEPER WARS was undertaken and gave some sort of closure to those who had invested four years in following the Crichton/Aeryn love story, not to mention the fate of the muppets in the show. Second up is ALIEN NATION, which only got one season, but left half of alien cop George's family dying of a virus engineered to kill the newcomers. A TV movie followed entitled DARK HORIZON that effectively tied up two of the major plot threads as well as the more personal character stories. So successful was that movie that it was followed by three more of variable quality. Finally we give you FIREFLY, the cancellation of which is still a cancer that eats away at the very souls of those who fell in love withe show and every one of its characters in its very short TV run (you can tell we liked it can't you?). OK, so the movie here was released into cinemas, but the principles applies that it gave some sort of closure for the characters and was voted as the film of the year by the viewers to the ever popular BBC film review show Film (insert year here).

If TV networks want our time to fuel their profitability (and make no mistake that viewer numbers are all they care about because that's what makes the money) then we should expect a little faith in return.

So come on network moguls, when you have to kill off our favourite shows then throw us the bone of a resolution.

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