Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oops, Too Late

My wife and I don't get any television reception. Oh, we have a television -- old but serviceable -- but it doesn't get any channels. We live in a valley; to get channels, you need cable. We don't have it.

Honestly, we like it that way. If you get channels, then you spend time trying to find something on them, and, well, usually there ain't nothing. It wastes time; it sucks you into watching stuff you don't really like, just 'cause it's on. (Once upon a time, the idea that you needed it for up-to-the-minute news was an excuse; these days, though, the internet really serves that function perfectly well.)

But that doesn't mean we don't watch television. We just do it differently. We get DVDs of shows through netflix and watch them that way (if we really like them, we buy sets). Some shows are now putting their episodes online, and either or both of us will watch shows that way. Other shows are on iTunes. Or friends with a tivo will invite us over to watch a show. All of these methods tend to assure that you're watching something you're interested in (and when you feel like watching it) rather than whatever happens to be on. And there's been some great TV in recent years, too.

But it does mean we're a bit behind the times.

All of which is to say that I hadn't really heard of Drive -- oh, rumblings on the horizon, but nothing that stuck in my head -- until today, when Robert Farley mentioned it. But it sounds good! Executive produced by Tim Minear, writer for Angel and co-executive producer for Firefly? Staring the beautiful Nathan Fillion, star of the aforementioned Firefly? With Angel's brilliant Amy Acker in the bargain? Hell, I don't care what the premise is: I'll watch it. Now, what was Robert Farley saying about it?

It's been canceled
. After four episodes.

Well, frack.

Some people might say -- with some justification -- that I'm part of the problem here: not watching it live, I don't get counted in the ratings. But if the ratings only pick up people who watch it live then -- given all the (vastly superior) options for watching TV otherwise -- then the rating system badly needs an overhaul. There's gotta be a way to keep a series going that has (or will have) a fan base on DVD/internet download, and not just those who watch it with advertising. (HBO seems good at this -- at least, they've done a lot of great series that haven't gotten stellar ratings (it fits their business model, of course); whereas Fox seems a particular villain in this regard: starting great shows and then cancelling them before they have time to find an audience. Now only a sucker would let themselves get hooked on a Fox show early on: chances are if it's good, they'll can it.) Connected with this is the fact that shows take time to build an audience (and even to find their footing and voice): four episodes seems utterly insufficient to judge if a series will succeed or not.

Still, it's a bit depressing to hear of a great-sounding show for (basically) the first time when being informed of it's cancellation.

I'm not sure who; but someone ain't doing something right, that's for sure.

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