So Almost Human was cancelled this week, and with Upfronts coming later this month, it’s safe to say that more axes will be falling.
A couple of things happened in connection with the AH announcement that I wanted to comment on.
First, right on schedule, I saw Bones fans gloating about the cancellation on Twitter. Of course, this actually says nothing at all about either Bones or Almost Human, while saying everything about the fans. Still, a few in particular referenced the idiotic promo Fox released last fall which was based on the assumption that insulting Brennan would get people to watch Almost Human, and thus the spirit behind the comments was one of “I’m justified in being happy the writers and actors are out of work because the promo department – who no one associated with the show has any control over – dissed my favorite character.”
Seriously…I get that you were pissed over the promo. Even David Boreanaz was pissed over it, and I certainly was. But Hart’s said that he has no control over how Fox promos Bones, so using the promo as a reason to gloat over people being out of work and fans being disappointed just makes you look bad. Also? I sincerely hope you’re never in a position to suffer a job loss due to something someone else does.
Second, a friend and I – both disappointed by the cancellation – were discussing it on Twitter, and later in the day, someone else made some snide remarks to the effect that I was wanting another show to have been cancelled instead, specifically The Following. Since that’s something I said in this post that I don’t do, I wanted to clarify that, nope, never said any of that this week.
The friend and I were commenting that, A) Almost Human’s ratings were a bit better than The Following, and that had given us hope it might not be canceled, and B) that neither of us enjoy The Following. But if you take away from that a wish on my part that it had been canceled instead of Almost Human, you’re painting me with your brush.
I’ve got friends who watch and enjoy The Following, and why would I want them to be unhappy? No, I don’t like the show (I tried, by the way. I did watch the first two episodes of S1.) and it’s hard for me to see it lasting for long. (I’m really not being snarky but unless the premise has changed significantly, how can anyone see a show about an FBI agent’s inability to stop a lone serial killer/cult leader going to five or six or seven seasons?)
Third, I figure the fact that Almost Human was canceled and The Following wasn’t illustrates another point I was making last fall: it’s not all about ratings. Fans (well, Bones fans, at least) are often rather obsessive about ratings, convinced they know what they mean, etc., and …they just don’t. *I* don’t. Ratings are only part of the picture the networks use to make decisions. Based on what I’ve been told, contracts, cost, audience feedback, and a dozen other things play a part, too.
I freely admit to not having a clue about the decision-making process here, but suspect that Almost Human cost more than The Following to produce, it also seems possible to me that Fox believes that however much lower the season two ratings were for The Following than season one’s, that they’ve found their audience now, a group who’ll stick with them. Absent of knowing that about Almost Human, it may have made The Following the safer bet, never mind the ratings.
Fourth, I noted that it’s unlikely I’ll bother with any new shows next season, saving Hart .Hanson’s Backstrom, and I got a snide comment over that, too, to the effect that I was being bitter. I get why it sounds like that, but it wasn’t intended that way.
I don’t watch much TV, really. I’m not one of those people who has it on for background noise, and I’d nearly always rather read – I simply like how written stories are told, generally, over filmed ones. I also prefer stories I can be invested in – sequels, trilogies, long stories, and quite often the later seasons of a show more than the first. (Bones is an anomaly here, as in many other ways – I love S1 as much as I love S9.)
So for me to take the time to watch a new show, to fall in love with the characters only to have the story cut short – why bother?
The obvious answer is, ‘because we don’t know what shows will succeed’, and that’s true. But still, it’s my time, my emotional investment, my choice whether or not to give the next crop of new offerings a chance.
Am I mad at Fox? No. What’s entertainment for me is their livelihood. They have to make the choices that they believe will make the most money, or they’re out of work. Viewers often want to make network decisions be about loyalty and creativity or a dozen other things, and while those things might play a role, the bottom line is, ‘which show is going to make us the most money, so we can keep getting paid?’
(That said, I am frustrated with Fox about one thing in respect with Almost Human, and that’s the decision to air the episodes out of order. Did Firefly teach you nothing? I know people – some of them in real life, not online – who were confused because so much set up in the pilot was absent in the following weeks. Has there ever been a time when rearranging the story worked out for you?)
Finally, based on the shows that do well in the ratings, I’m not enough like anyone else, apparently, to be part of the group of people that makes number one hits. I don’t watch reality shows, I find talent competitions painful, I don’t like violent drama, and I don’t enjoy anti-heroes, most sitcoms, plot-driven stories, or any show that hits the reset button on a regular basis.
The only ‘hit TV show’ I watch right now, and that only occasionally and very much to my astonishment, is The Big Bang Theory. NCIS, which I watched in a semi-committed fashion for several seasons, uses the reset button too frequently.
So what do I like, broadly speaking? Character driven dramas, about likable people, told with a subtle humor, a minimum of explicit violence (i.e., this is why I’m not over on the cable channels watching Sons of Anarchy or The Walking Dead) and no reset buttons. The humor can be optional, though I’m unlikely to marathon unremittingly dark series.
In the absence of new shows next season, I’ll catch up on Elementary (I watched most of the first season and then wandered away); continue with Criminal Minds (I’m in mid season four); might try Grimm, and I might resume my watch/re-watch of some older shows, specifically Alias and The X-Files.
All of which is to say that I don’t blame the networks for canceling shows I love (though seriously, if ABC axes S.H.I.E.L.D, I might just cancel cable altogether) when I don’t have enough in common with anyone else to help generate a hit show, but nor do I have to keep setting myself up for disappointment.
Oh, and I do reserve the right to change my mind, if friends are excited by a show it sounds like I’d like, and it’s doing well in the ratings. But far more years than not, I don’t bother with new shows, and I expect this to be one of those seasons.