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Stuff: Writers Guild Nominations

One of the greatest things about Science Fiction is that it can take you anywhere and present you with just about anything. In the hands of a great writer Science Fiction can be a brilliant vehicle for the telling of both thought provoking and emotional escapes. While in the past brilliant Science Fiction writing has been over looked at awards time it seems that the current crop of Science Fiction shows (and their writers) are finally getting some long overdue recognition. has revealed LOST, HEROES and Battlestar Galactica have all received nominations for the Writers Guild of America television awards.

Heroes received one nomination (in the best new series category) while Lost received two nominations, one for best dramatic series and the episode “Two for the Road” (written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim) was nominated in the best episodic drama category. “Two for the Road” is up against the Battlestar Galactica two-parter “Occupation/Precipice” (written by Ron Moore) which also received a nomination for best episodic drama.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I quite like to hear that shows that I’m a fan of are being rewarded/recognised in this way. Not only because it (can) decrease the chance that they’ll be axed and leave me looking for new stuff to watch – but also because it, to a degree, vindicates the fact that I enjoy them… And lets face it, none of us likes to think that our taste (in any form of entertainment) is misguided. [source]

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    You mention that awards decrease the chances of a deserving program facing the chop. This may be so and I don’t dispute it. But this also raises another point that bears mentioning and hopefully, can be addressed/cleared up for me in this forum.
    I have heard that since the discontinuation of Stargate on the sci-fi channel in the US, there has been a drop in those watching that particular segment, which also has “Battlestar Galactica” in the line up. Consequently, viewings drop for these programs as well and they, in turn, face the axe.
    In Australia, in the case of “Battlestar”, the series has been dropped off before the finish of the second season and, because only the hardcore fans are going to sit up (or set their recorders…) to watch it at this ungodly hour, the preference is to either download it off the internet or purchase the full series in DVD format as opposed to wait until later in the year when the powers that be decide to bring the show back on. The butterfly effect is that when the series is brough back on, no one watches it and any progressive seasons then face the axe.
    There is more money to be made from stations picking these shows up than there is selling them on in DVD format or being downloaded off the internet, in most cases for free.
    Is there a solution?

  • I can only speculate…
    … but one solution, that I can think of, is to make some kind of law that prevents complete and utter morons from having anything to do with television show scheduling…

    The reality is that there isn’t an easy solution. Many great Sci-Fi shows end up playing at ridiculous times of the night. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

    One thing that may be worth trying is ‘playing along’ and watching Jericho when it airs here. For the first time (just about EVER) we are seeing a new US show air almost simultaneously here – In fact, it often airs here sooner than you could download it anyway! So, lets say you’re not a fan of Jericho (personally, I’m enjoying it) but, even if you’re not – to support what Ch 10 is doing we need to go out of our way to watch the show. My hope is that showing this kind of support will encourage Ch 10 (and others) to do the same thing with shows like LOST – The sooner that they realise that TIME is the thing killing ratings, then the sooner we’re likely to seen more (near) simultaneous broadcasts here is Aust… well, that’s the hope anyway.

  • Jingle jangle
    I’m terribly lazy and have just got up from watching an older TV show on DVD and my back hurts so I’ll keep it short.

    There has been a few cases of TV shows being picked up after cancellation based on strong DVD sales – I can’t remember which ones, so my argument is somewhat flawed, but I’m sure there’s cases of it happening.

    One thing I’d like to add in regards to Stargate SG1 was the creators of the show have trying to stop it since Season 8… The show just kept getting renewed, and only now, with Season 10 half done have they finally gotten their wish, to finish the season and finalise with a movie (aired or straight to DVD, doesnt matter)

    Didn’t I say I was going to keep this short?

  • Family Guy was renewed as a result of good DVD sales… I think that there have been orders for some movies (or a new series) of Greg the Bunny and there are some Futurama eps in the works too.. I’m sure that there are other examples too – HOWEVER, I’m NOT sure that this is actually what Macca was talking about.

  • A Plan of Attack.
    tv series are very rarely a creation born of inspiration. More likely than not, they are spin-offs from a tried and trusted formula of either a successful movie or book, whether it be graphic novel or Nobel awarded literature. A successful production house has more of a chance at getting a premier series up and running than someone who has no ‘street cred’. Michael Creighton struggled for years to get a tv series based on a hospital emergency ward to first base. He received knock back after knock back. Yet from his tenacity was borne a hit show that has defied the axe and keeps coming back.
    ‘Serenity’ was only made as a last ditch attempt to kick start the life back into the ‘Fire-fly’ series. Not the other way around. I went and paid my dues not once, not twice, but 3 times while it was still at the movies, dragging as many like minded nerds with me as I could.
    On tv, it comes down to a few people trying to work out what the viewing audience is ‘ready to watch’. They are affected by influences such as marketing, demographics, seasons and trends. They are also affected by finance. Will the show pay? What financial future does it have? Can we market action figures?
    Unfortunately, sci-fi falls closer to the edge than most because of what it is; a boutique market (never thought I’d hear THAT as a term to describe the genre!) Joss Wheedon is a classic example of someone who has the runs on the board and yet still fell foul of the bean counters.
    It is the above-mentioned influences that see sci-fi branded as ‘fringe tv’ and relegated to late night viewing on free-to-air or to specific channel programming as happens with pay-to-air.
    We have no choice with the time slot we are given. It is the way of the world. It’s our hand and we have to play it. But we are not doing ourselves any service by purchasing the series of choice before it is aired on tv. By not watching the shows on tv, we are cheating those who benefit from the marketing and creating a lack of demand, therefore we run the risk of the lack of demand being perceived as a lack of interest and the shows being pulled.
    Make no mistake. I am pissed off at having to set the recorder to catch a cut-down version of what I can download off the internet or purchase off ebay because our demographic is relegated to the 11pm or later time slot.
    But I would much prefer to do this or wait until after it has been run on tv and see future series continue than have them canned because they are either seen as too risky or not a bankable item.

  • Vaid points… but
    While I agree with the majority of what you’re putting forward there Macca, I disagree with your sentiment regarding the purchase of a series on DVD. I believe (but am quite happy to be proven wrong) that purchasing DVDs of a show, regardless of whether it has aired locally or not, sends the clearest signal of them all – cold hard cash.

    You’re right in saying that bean counters control a large part of what we see on television (and in movies) but the ‘evidence’ that those bean counters have to go on when ‘predicting’ whether or not a series is a viable investment are:

    DVD sales. These figures speak loudly! It’s one thing to get people to park their ass in front of the television set at night and watch whatever is on… Hell, they’re going to be sitting there anyway, so it’s like shooting fish in a barrel really! However, when someone gets up off their ass and goes to a real (or online) store and slaps down their hard earned cash to by a television series season on DVD, well, I find it hard to believe that the message doesn’t ring in the ears of those programming television in this country… Again, while it doesn’t always manifest itself in the return of an axed television show, it CAN, and therefore [IMO] must be seen as a way of getting the message through.

    Ratings, (External or overseas). This is becoming an extremely floored basis for predicting a shows success here in Aust. I read somewhere recently (I wish I could remember where) that something like 68% of Australians download television shows which have yet to air here in Australia. SIXTY EIGHT PERCENT! Hell, if you’d asked me what percentage of Australians were CAPABLE of, and know where to find and how to download television shows I’d have probably gone as far as saying 20% (at a push). The previously mentioned bean counters have to be aware of these figures now and, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I believe that Ch 10 is currently ‘testing the water’ by airing Jericho in Aust mere hours after it is shown in the US. The only way that the ‘effort’ that Ch 10 is putting in to Jericho will be considered (by them) as ‘worth while’ is if it translates into ratings. Which brings me back to what I was saying earlier – WATCH IT.

    Something else that Ch 10 are doing (maybe inadvertently) by airing Jericho here in ‘real time’ (for want of a better term) is bringing the Australian ratings of a television show into the circle of influence when it comes to a television show’s ‘worth’ – What I mean is this: Lets imagine that Firefly had aired here in Australia at the very same time that it was being mishandled by the morons at Fox. And lets just pretend that whatever channel that had the balls to air it here was doing so in a regular (accessible) timeslot – I understand that this notion is a total flight of fancy, but go with me please… Now, lets pretend that, for whatever reason, Firefly topped the ratings (in Aust) every week… There is the potential, at very least the idea is worth entertaining, that the Australian viewing numbers may have been enough to prevent Firefly from being axed in the first place.

    A far fetched theory? Probably. But surely it’s worth supporting Jericho (and Ch 10) JUST BECAUSE it’s the first chance that Australian audiences have ever had to affect the far off bean counters who don’t necessarily decide if a show gets to air here in Australia… but DO get to decide if a show is even made at all.

  • Point taken…
    Mine is a humble opinion based on a mix of little known, read or loosely recalled documentation, urban myth and ‘statistics’.
    (Refer to Mark Twain for a working definition.)
    I suppose the crux is to show an interest and take action to support the genre in any way, shape or form that will add credibility to their creation.
    DVD, video or download.

  • Absolutely
    I think you’ve managed to define it all in one sentence dude!

  • Finally!
    In this case, definitely the destination and not the path travelled…