clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Scott D. Pierce: 3 science fiction series are really struggling

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard," goes the old saying.

But when it comes to television these days, science fiction is hard. Really hard.

ABC is struggling with both "V" and "FlashForward" — both in terms of the ratings and getting the shows made.

And Fox, which has canceled both "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Dollhouse" because of abysmal ratings, seems to be headed down the same road with "Fringe."

The future of "V" is about as up in the air as one of those giant spaceships hovering over a major Earth city. The day that the show premiered, ABC announced that a new executive producer/showrunner had been hired to helm the series.

That's not a good sign.

Before that, the network had shut down production shortly after it began — after the second and third episodes were filmed — for creative retooling. Executive producer Jeff Bell left the show at that point, replaced as showrunner by executive producer Scott Peters, who wrote the pilot.

That's not a good sign.

And ABC announced that just four episodes would air this November, with "V" scheduled to return in March.

That's not a good sign.

When "V" does come back, those episodes will be overseen by "Chuck" executive producer Scott Rosenbaum.

And then there are the ratings. After getting off to a very strong start with a very strong pilot episode, ratings fell 26 percent for Episode 2. Then they fell another 16 percent for Episode 3 as the show fell to third-place in its time slot.

It didn't help that Episodes 2 and 3 were not up to quality of the premiere. They were, well, sort of boring.

It's hard to launch a successful TV series. It's even harder to relaunch a show once it gets into trouble.

So ABC and Rosenbaum have really got their work cut out for them. If there's a reason to be optimistic, it's pretty well hidden right now.

There's bad news on the "FlashForward" front, too. At this point, it has lost more than a third of its audience. It debuted at the end of September with 12.4 million viewers; that number had fallen to about 8 million by November.

That's not good.

The show has also had some creative struggles, too. After a very good pilot, the next couple of episodes were far less compelling — and the audience began to flee.

Recent episodes have been much improved, but, again, it's never easy to win viewers back.

As for "Fringe," the show is averaging barely 5 million viewers per episode in recent weeks. That would be great if the show was on The CW, but it's on Fox. And that's about a third of the number of viewers who are watching "CSI" or "Grey's Anatomy."

That's terrible.

Fox executives say they're happy with the quality of "Fringe" and that they're standing behind it.

Of course, that's pretty much what they said about "Dollhouse" and "Sarah Connor Chronicles," too.

THERE'S A REASON a certain segment of sci-fi fandom is so unpopular. Because they think they're so much smarter than the rest of us.

Recently, an e-mail made its way to me from a "Dollhouse" fan. He disagreed with me when I wrote that the show got off to a start that "wasn't good" and that "it took the show a good half-dozen episode to start to find its footings."

(Just FYI, creator/executive producer Joss Whedon has said pretty much the same thing.)

"I usually trust your judgment and agree with many of your views on TV, however, I am very glad I didn't trust your judgment when 'Dollhouse' premiered. I have loved this show's twists and turns from the beginning. It is a show that has constantly kept me guessing."

That's fine. Really. As I've been telling people for, well, decades, if we all liked the same shows we'd only need one channel. And I'd have to get a real job.

Honestly, I have no problem with people who disagree. A review is, after all, one person's opinion. Some of my best friends are TV critics and we argue about shows.

But this is why that segment of sci-fi fandom is so insufferable:

"('Dollhouse') may not have always been the easiest show to understand and we all know how the average Joe can't stand to keep up with great shows with a lot of mythology behind them, but (it was) definitely a very fun ride while it lasted."

Gee, I'm glad you enjoyed the show. I really am.

But don't tell me that the ratings were abysmal because average Joes just aren't as smart as you are.

By the way, this e-mail was forwarded to me by Deseret News music editor Scott Iwasaki, to whom it was mistakenly sent.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com