It’s been interesting to watch this year’s round of Poll-ballot-stuffing a/k/a which bubble show should be saved surveys. Every season, the passionate fans of a series band together and do their level best to flood sites with just as many votes as possible. In the past, this was done using bots to totally overwhelm the process. As experience has grown, there has been more of a necessity of humans actually having to do the work themselves by voting early and voting often (you know, just like on American Idol). This year’s clear winner has been revealed:
Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles
TTSCC has consistently been getting the majority (and overwhelming majority in some polls) of the vote. And I do mean majority (i.e. more than 50%) as opposed to plurality (more vote than others but less than half). It’s been impressive how consistent this has been. Some examples: The Fans Have Spoken: Save Terminator!, Bubble show poll results: You really, really want ‘Terminator’ and ‘Chuck’ back.
In the history of these sorts of surveys, shows I’ve liked have been on both the winning and losing sides of the equation. When you are on the losing side, it’s easy to grouse about how the winners cheated by stuffing the ballots and stuff. At this point, since we’ve had enough of these cycles to understand how they work, that seems to be a weak argument. The fact is, the top 2 or 3 shows in these surveys actually do have a very loyal base and the shows are creatively worthy of being saved. Their weakness is that they tend not to be mainstream shows. What’s a network to do?
I’ve long been an advocate of networks airing (and renewing) at least one show that just good but for some reason isn’t finding the audience it deserves. Call it a “loss leader”. But, the landscape is changing. With FOX and soon NBC only airing 2 hours of useful primetime programming, there isn’t a lot of room for a loss leader. When you are only showing 10 hours of (hopefully) compelling programming instead of 15, your willingness to entertain a loss leader diminishes greatly.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, FOX has an opportunity to sieze Friday night and make it their own as the place for SF. The SciFi channel has long had that mantle with Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, and the Stargate franchise. With the first two now gone, and the Battlestar prequel Caprica being called by some a must-see only for curious Battlestar fans, there is such an opportunity for FOX to stay steady with TTSCC and use it as a tentpole for a night they pretty much give up on in any case. Short-term losses, perhaps, that could yield long-term rewards. (If the show were owned by Fox and not WB, I think this would be a no-brainer done-deal.)
It will be interesting to see if FOX is willing to bow to the consistent cry from its Terminator fans. It would be even more interesting if they made a full-season commitment to the show…but that might be asking a little much. After its debacles wtih Firefly, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, Wonderfalls, and more, it might be time for them to earn back some of loyalty so many fans seem to be willing to offer that the network has squandered in the past.
PS – I should add that I’d really love to see Chuck get a renewal as well from NBC. It’s a fun show that, like TTSCC, deserves more viewers than it gets.