Can They Be Saved? Revolution, Almost Human, Intelligence, and the Other Struggling Sci Fi / Fantasy Shows from the Current Season

By | January 31, 2014

revolution-s2Syfy just announced the renewal of Haven this week, and we are at the end of January with no cancellations of science fiction / fantasy shows yet for the season. That has to be a new record especially considering the number of genre shows currently airing. That said, there are several shows that are all but certainly heading for a date with the network executioner and fans of those shows may be wondering what–if anything–can they do to assure that their show wins another season. Well, the fact is that the old-style “Save My Show” campaign rarely works, and when it does it usually only gets one more season at best. But I do believe there are still some options for the current crop of struggling shows, and if the fans play their cards right they might just get that one extra season at least of their favorite show.  I had previously suggested a strategy for Haven fans which would have them work directly with the network and offer to pre-buy a Season 5 subscription of episode downloads to show their commitment to the show. The network could establish a level they would need to reach that could make up for any shortfall from the lower ratings the series has been pulling.  Turns out, that wasn’t necessary and perhaps the strong social network activity supporting Haven helped keep it alive despite its poor ratings.  But I believe that subscription strategy could work for some other shows and I also think that social network buzz can be a good thing as well.

So here’s a look at the shows I believe are facing an uncertain future and what I believe the fans can do. And be sure to keep an eye on my Cancellation Watch column and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the latest ratings results and cancellation/renewal announcements.

Helix (Syfy) – This new entry from Syfy is not necessarily in trouble just yet, especially considering the fact that it is averaging about the same ratings score (a 0.4 in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights) as Haven.  But it is an unestablished show and I’m sure Syfy would have preferred better numbers from its inaugural run.  The best thing that Helix fans can do at this point is take to the social networks and draw attention to their show. If that doesn’t get the ratings up, maybe the Haven-type campaign mentioned above, but I would think that would be much more of a longshot for a new series.
Chances: Shaky, but too early to say for sure.

Revolution (NBC) – It seems like a long time ago that NBC was touting this one as a blockbuster ratings winner for the network.  Since its strong initial bow last season (bolstered by it lead-in from The Voice), Revolution has fallen long and far (with no help from NBC’s dubious scheduling this season). Still, based on the responses to my Save My Show poll, it appears that the show has a pretty dedicated fanbase even if its not enough to get it to at least a respectable ratings performance (currently it is averaging around 1 .5 score in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights). But then it may not be as close to the edge as I was previously thinking considering the poor performance of most of NBC’s other non-sports/non-reality programming, and a strong push from the fans might be able to keep it alive. But I don’t believe that the Haven-type campaign mentioned above would work in this case as it is a higher budget show on one of the Big Four broadcast nets. I’m thinking it would take a lot more pre-paid subscriptions (maybe a million or more) to convince the network to keep it going on that basis, assuming they would listen at all (couldn’t hurt to ask, though). But a Chuck-type campaign just might work. The fans of that spy fi series (which also aired on NBC) appealed to Subway which was one of the show’s main sponsors and started going to that sandwich chain en masse. That ended up helping to keep the show going for another season and a half. Revolution fans should consider something along this basis, as well as an attention-grabbing social networking campaign.  The ratings for the show may suggest cancellation, but NBC just might overlook that if they can tout the show as having a strong grassroots following.  Make some noise!!
Chances: Probably the best among the shows I currently have pegged as likely to be cancelled.

Siberia (NBC) – This Summer faux-reality horror series that aired on NBC pulled pretty mediocre ratings when it ran, but it has not been officially cancelled yet.  It was produced on the cheap and its studio actually owns the series, so they make the decision on whether to produce a second season (though that doesn’t necessarily mean that NBC will air it).  The fanbase is not huge, but it’s definitely there and a Haven-type campaign would definitely be a strong option to continue the series.  Not certain if it could get enough pre-orders, though.  Also, some noise on the social networks could help as well, and there has been some of that, but not enough yet.  If they could step up and bring attention to the show, perhaps one of the cable nets or Amazon or Netflix might take an interest.
Chances: It’s still hanging in there.

almost-human-fox-cancelledAlmost Human (FOX) – This show has been a victim of poor scheduling with its late-Fall start and recent preemptions that killed the momentum it started building at mid-season. Fans of this show just need to make some noise to bring attention to it. This is another case–like Revolution above–where the network just might acknowledge an uproar from the fans because they have to know this one has had a lot of scheduling hurdles to overcome. It is too new of a show with too few episodes for a Haven-type campaign to work, but if FOX believes Almost Human has developed a strong enough fanbase, they may give it another shot next season.
Chances: Not impossible if the network would stop working against the show

Dracula (NBC) – This series got off to a good start in the post-Grimm timeslot on Fridays but then dropped fast and far, too far even for a Friday series. It was originally billed as a ten-episode “event” series, and it seems like that is how it will end up. However, it has received a notable number of votes in my Save My Show poll, so it appears to have a stronger following than you might expect. And it current numbers are no lower than where Hannibal ended last season, and NBC renewed that one. A Haven-type campaign might work for this one, though I think the Big Four would be less amenable to that approach.  Maybe a Chuck-type campaign would be a better move.  Or maybe just a strong outcry from the fans to bring attention to the show. I think it is a long-shot in this case, but then if it gets enough attention maybe Netflix or Amazon would take an interest in continuing it if NBC cancels it.
Chances: Closer to the grave than it would like to be.

The Tomorrow People (CW) – This series is pulling some pretty mediocre ratings, but it airs on the fifth place network so it still has a chance. But then The CW has managed to improve its overall numbers this season with The Tomorrow People being one of the glaring laggers and mid-season entries Star-Crossed and The 100 will be showing what they can do pretty soon. On top of that, the network has pilots for The Flash, iZombie, and a Supernatural spin-off in the pipeline which have a lot of potential.  It’s too new so I don’t believe a Haven-type campaign would help it. Maybe the Chuck-type campaign, but then I haven’t seen much evidence that The Tomorrow People has developed much of a fanbase. Maybe if they made their presence known on the social networks, that would help.
Chances: Slim, but it is a CW show so you never know for sure.

Beauty and the Beast (CW) – This sophomore entry from The CW was a tenuous renewal last season and it has barely registered in the Nielsens since returning for its second year. I have heard that this one plays well to the international market and that kept Nikita going on the same network much longer that typical wisdom would have suggested. I would think that a Chuck-type campaign would be the better approach for this show or maybe a stir on the social networks. It might convince The CW to keep it going on as a Summer show long enough to produce a decent enough episode count to let it live on in syndication.  Or maybe Netflix of Amazon would take a flyer on it.  But the fans have to make some noise because this show is getting beat in the ratings by 50 year old repeats of Gilligan’s Island!
Chances: Maybe its international audience can keep it afloat?

intelligence-cbsIntelligence (CBS) – It started with really good numbers (especially in total viewers) from its Tuesday preview bow, but then tanked when moved to its regular Monday 10 PM EST timeslot. It did have an upsurge this week, so if fans were to make an uproar on the social networks, maybe they could convince CBS that it’s worth keeping around. But then this network has no particular love of sci fi to begin with and the show doesn’t fit within their typical branding despite having the star power of Josh Holloway attached. Unless its numbers continue to go up and the fans can bring some attention to this show, I’d say nothing less than a miracle would keep it going.
Chances: A glimmer of hope from the recent ratings, but still unlikely to get renewed.

The Neighbors (ABC) – This series never pulled great numbers during its first season, but it seemed like it might do well enough for a sitcom in its second year on Fridays when ratings expectations are lowered.  But it has dropped even further and appears to be just airing out its second season order to fill up schedule time until May.  That said, if it could get its numbers up just a few ticks–maybe to a 1.2 or 1.3–ABC might see their way to keeping it around.  The fans would have to speak out and bring some attention to the show but I have really seen much of a following for the show out there.  Short of that, I’m thinking this one is almost certainly a goner.
Chances: Very slim unless they bring back George Takei as a series regular.

Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (ABC) – This Once Upon A Time spin-off had the odds heavily against with the network’s scheduling and could never overcome that. And it does not appear to have developed much of its own fanbase, with even the original show’s fans seeming somewhat aloof toward it. The series was planned for a one season run (with the chance of continuing if the ratings were good) and it will almost certainly end that way. The good news for those who do watch the show is that it will probably be used to pad out the syndication run of the parent series, so it should live on that way. But I really don’t see any chance of this one lasting beyond its current season.
Chances: It’s back down the rabbit hole for this one.

Useless but essential pop culture tidbits and trivia from the worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Did you know that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski wrote a proposal for a Star Trek reboot years before the J.J. Abrams movies came out? Did you know that Han Solo was originally supposed to be a green-skinned alien and some of the early actors considered for the role included Billy Dee Williams, Al Pacino, and Chevy Chase? How about that FOX originally wanted someone more like Pamela Anderson to play the roll of Scully on The X-Files? Or that in 1974, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet? Ever hear of Varney the Vampire?

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