Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"On The Bubble" - SciFi’s Predictions and My Own

The SciFi Channel’s website just did a little article talking about the science-fiction-related TV shows that are considered to be “on the bubble” of being canceled. I figured I would toss in a few of my own critiques, especially after my segment on TV programming just the other week.

Show: Chuck. NBC, season two. Episodes this season: 24.

D2 Summary: Nerdy dead-ender gets involved with a superspy group.

SciFi Says: This oh-so-charming series impressed NBC brass so much before it even began airing its second season that they ordered a full season's worth of episodes. And while the ratings aren't thrilling, the show hasn't missed a beat creatively, and those ratings are starting to creep up on the much more hyped Heroes. Filled with funny secondary characters and charismatic leads with the best romantic complications this side of Pushing Daisies, what's not to love? But Chuck remains on the bubble, with just 7 million or so viewers, though they seem to be ticking up.

Odds of getting a third season: Even

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? Just keep doing what they're doing already. It's not a runaway hit, but this series knows exactly what it is, and nobody does comedy/romance/action better.

D2 Says: This is not SciFi. This is a nerd fantasy, especially when hanging around with normal people and falling for a hottie. And it's not "on the bubble" if they have a steady audience.

Show: Eleventh Hour. CBS, season one. Episodes this season: 18.

D2 Summary: X-files with different people and weirder events.

SciFi Says: Who would have thought that being a Jerry Bruckheimer production would hurt a show? Expectations were huge as this series kicked off, and it gets the best ratings of the shows on the bubble. But ratings vary week to week more than they should. CBS did not have enough confidence to give the series a full-season order, which is never a good sign. But ratings have ticked up lately, and the series is beginning to find its rhythm. Hood and Rachel's relationship is growing, and there are plans to bring in a third character to help add some more spice to the mix.

Odds of getting a second season: 1 in 2

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? The flesh-eating-sexually-transmitted-disease-turned-loose-during-spring-break episode that attracted more than 13 million viewers: Do more like that.

D2 says: How about you skip the flesh-eating part and stick with the STD and spring break parts? You're up at 10pm anyway, so give the freedom-haters something to bitch about!

Show: Heroes. NBC, season three. Episodes this season: 25.

D2 Summary: What happens when ordinary people discover they have superhuman abilities? Think more along the lines of Bryan Singer's "X-Men".

SciFi Says: What's happened to our beloved Heroes? Season one topped out at just over 16 million viewers, while the final episode of "Volume Three: Villains" wasn't even able to hit 8 million. The first season was brilliant, but how many times can you save the world and have it mean something? The upcoming "Volume Four: Fugitives" holds possibilities for more personal storytelling.

Odds of getting a fourth season: 1 in 5

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? We already love these characters, but don't be afraid to kill one or two of the regulars off ... permanently. For the world to be real to us, there need to be consequences.

D2 Says: How about stories that make sense? And whoever decided to put Heroes on the long hiatus should be canned. THAT killed the interest more than the confusing storylines. By the way, don't complain about death after Arthur Petrelli, Elle, Eric Doyle, Knox, Niki Sanders, Meredith, and Usutu all died in this season. Oh, and more powers, less moping about them.

Repeat after me: ANGST KILLS!

Show: Life on Mars. ABC, season one. Episodes this season: 17.

D2 Summary: Present-day cop gets knocked on his ass and ends up in the 70's. No, I'm serious.

SciFi Says: Considering Life on Mars is a tough sell (What is it about, anyway? Time travel? Coma dreams? Alternate reality? Aliens?), the series has developed a consistent fan base. This is no doubt because of a terrific cast and challenging storytelling, with surprising mysteries episode after episode. But 8 1/2 million or so viewers aren't enough to make this series safe. Life on Mars is being moved to Wednesdays after Lost on Jan. 28.

Odds of getting a second season: 1 in 8

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? Give us some answers, but not too many. We don't really know what's going on with Lost either. In fact, this mind-tripping series probably has more in common with Lost than any other series on television. But can Life on Mars overcome the fact that no series has successfully been able to follow Lost? That one is too hard to predict.

D2 Says: This show can go away. We don't need to be reminded that there are things that happened thirty years ago that don't happen today.

Show: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Fox, season two. Episodes this season: 22.

D2 Summary: Somewhere in between "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines", the cyborg killers return, and a sexy waif Terminatrix sends mother-and-son fugitives Sarah and John Connor a few years into the future to stop Skynet. (In other words, everything in T3 doesn't exist anymore. Sarah still lives and Connor is still a headcase.)

SciFi Says: When Sarah Connor's first season premiered early this year, Fox executives were doing the happy ratings dance. It looked like it could be the next House. Unfortunately, House isn't even House these days, and no series has fallen farther. Sarah Connor hasn't been able to crack 6 million for most of the season. But there is hope. The series is moving to Fridays, paired with Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.

Odds of getting a second season: 1 in 20

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? The move to Fridays will make or break Sarah Connor, and partnering with Whedon's latest brainchild can only help. But there's one big problem with the series: It's got terrific action, a powerful mythology, hot actors and the saddest characters on television. But does it have to be so depressing? Lighten up already!

D2 Says: Problem one is that EVERYONE seems to be going back into time now. It's Grand Central Station now. Problem two is that Cromarite (the cyborg that followed the Connors into the present) is still alive. They shoot it, they bury it, and they go to melt it down and it's gone. Will someone PLEASE just melt that junker and be done with it? Problem three is that our ginger-haired Terminatrix seems to be doing more to interfere with the timeline than anyone else by literally creating Skynet herself instead of it being a fluke of technology. (In other words, she gets to be her own grandmother.) At this rate nobody will recognize the story from the next Terminator movie when it comes out. Or maybe that was the whole idea anyway?

Show: Knight Rider. NBC, season one. Episodes this season: 17.

D2 Summary: Continuing from the NBC post-Super Bowl movie, Mike Traceur gets recruited to drive the Knight Industries Three-Thousand (KITT) and serve as the point man for "The Foundation" and their small team of super-tech specialists.

SciFi Says: It was a bit of a surprise when the ratings-lite Knight Rider got picked up for a full season. The series does well among the young male demographic, a traditionally hard-to-reach audience. But ratings started to erode, and the audience has dwindled to just over 5 million viewers. The network recently pulled back the order to 17. Now the producers' mantra is "reboot." They promise characters will die and the series will move a bit closer to the original 1982 series.

Odds of getting a second season: 1 in 100.

What do the producers need to do to improve the odds? Let's face it, Knight Rider needs one hell of a reboot to build its audience to a place where it would have a chance at a second season. Right now, the season finale is set for Feb. 25, and unless there's an immediate bump in ratings after the new year, you can say goodbye to K.I.T.T.

D2 Says: I talked about this on my show. The original premise of KR was that it was a continuation of the original series. You had the original KITT in pieces in the movie, and you had an appearance of the original Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff), who was the new Michael's father. Suddenly they changed the premise in the series and turned it into a REMAKE. That was a HUGE mistake by the series execs and it needs to be fixed.

The Knight Foundation for Law and Government was NOT a super-secret spy agency. It was supposed to be a private foundation. KITT's predecessor, KARR, was NOT a Transformer; it was identical in every way to KITT except in temperament. Also, less sexual teasing and more storyline. They started out with a great conspiracy story that somehow just vanished. They need to work on that instead of seeing who in the cast of characters will get laid next.

Also... seriously consider bringing "The Hoff" back. Not permanently, but just for one guest appearance. You'll see the ratings go up again.

Well those are my takes... what are yours? Drop a comment or two.

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