Tale of Two Series: Why They Deserve a Second Look

A month into the new season, and TV shows are falling faster than gerblicks on a Frunetk Patch. Or to put it in other words, Genre TV ratings are sinking back to the same level they have consistently been for the last decade. Is this a bad thing? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because (especially if you’re FOX) you demand a quick return on investment in the way of ratings. Unfortunately, genre shows, as a rule, simply don’t deliver blockbuster ratings. Never have, never will. What is it about Science Fiction and television? Why is it that franchise stalwarts such as Star Trek TOS did so horribly in their first run, but are now classic? Firefly, another example of a canceled classic, is now an anthem to Browncoats all over the world, spawning not just a Major Motion Picture, but hundreds of books, comics, fanfic and fan films, as well as boosting the careers of Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau and many others.

It’s an interesting dichotomy when the fans who love the genre are snubbed by the networks. If we look back, Science Fiction has simply never played well on television, especially to mass audiences. A look at today’s American fare shows that not just the major networks, but cable as well, simply don’t wish to cater to the minority. Extending the Star Trek analogy further,  the five year mission of the original series lasted a grand total of 79 episodes, with steadily declining ratings throughout its run. The series re-boot, TNG, ran for 176 episodes, bringing a whole new generation of space explorers to the network and re-starting a franchise that would eventually spin off 4 other series including a cartoon and 10 movies. Some of our generations finest actors, writers, directors and composers worked on this franchise, and yet, no respect from the mainstream. Why?

To answer that question, let’s look at what should be our premiere source for TV genre, SyFy Network. Owned by NBC, its highest rated new shows are attracting similar ratings as genre shows on the major networks. To make matters worse, there is still the “Dreck Effect”, which can be summed up in one word, Sharktopuss.

So then, here are the two series currently on network TV deserving a second look

Show:   The Event

Network/Time:             NBC Mondays 9:00 pm EST

The Good News:              Jason Ritter is doing a very good job as the glue holding this plot together. The rest of the cast includes Sarah Roemer and Blair Underwood. Laura Innes as Sophia is going to be very interesting, if they are given time.

The Bad News:                  In the beginning, they jumped around in time and it became nausea inducing, they have since calmed down a bit. Its lead in, Chuck, is in the same doldrums as last year in terms of ratings, so when The Event drops even lower, it’s not a good sign.

Show:   No Ordinary Family

Network/Time:                 ABC Tuesday 8:00 pm EST

The Good News:              Terrific cast, a compelling plot, real characters and a nice clean story arc so far. Benz and Chicklis are wonderful. I wish I was as sure of Stephen Collins at the villain, but again, its going to need time.

The Bad News:                  Opposite Glee. I am still unsure if viewers want humans as superheroes or superheroes as humans. The cast shows a very human side, and does a far better job than Heroes ever did.

Given the current state of affairs in television, I suggest you give these two shows a chance. Time will be the final arbiter here, but let’s not forget, Star Trek was pitched as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, and how many people are NOW saying Firefly was a masterpiece, and never watched a single broadcast episode.

This is Dome, sayin: Patience, grasshopper…………

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