Saving Your Favourite TV Shows: Too late for Terra Nova?

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 13th March 2012.

Fans of the Network Ten family sci-fi series, Terra Nova, were disappointed to hear last week that the dino-drama had been cancelled after one season. Filmed in Queensland, the show was more expensive than your usual one hour drama with an average episode budget of US$4 million. Despite having Steven Spielberg, who mined similar storyline ground in Jurassic Park, attached as Executive Producer, Terra Nova drew ordinary ratings.

A campaign to save the show was launched in December by its small but loyal fan base, spurred on by the series’ lead actor, Jason O’Mara. Fans were encouraged to send plastic toy dinosaurs to FOX Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly. Unfortunately, this was not enough to save Terra Nova, however, there is a slim chance that the show may be picked up by another network or distributor. The current internet rumour is that Netflix, a major player in the US on-demand streaming and DVD rental by mail industry, may give the show a reprieve.

There are still a couple of episodes yet to air in Australia. Considering the axe has fallen (for now), expect to see them late at night between Proactiv ads and Flavorwave infomercials.

This isn’t the first time that fans have banded together to try to save their favourite shows from cancellation. Here are my favourite success stories.

Way back in 2000, the success of The X-Files resulted in several short lived shows involving aliens. Roswell, a teen drama revolving around a trio of stranded alien siblings, was facing the chop after its first low rating season. Starring Katherine Heigl, before she became really annoying, Roswell was granted a second and third season after fans banded together to send 3000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to WB Network executives. This was the first time that the internet had brought fans together to save a TV show.

A few years later, a post-apocalyptic action drama series entitled Jericho premiered in 2007. Starring Skeet Ulrich of Scream fame, the show focuses on the township of Jericho, Kansas following a nuclear attack on the US. Low ratings led to the series’ cancellation after one season but outraged fans had different plans. Inspired by a line of dialogue from the final episode where a character repeats a famous quote from a military general in the Battle of the Bulge (“Nuts!), fans rallied online and sent over 20 tonnes of nuts to the offices of CBS.

Jericho was miraculously renewed for a second season, however, the show’s ratings continued to be peanuts, so to speak, and it limped on for another seven episodes before being put out of its misery. A third season appeared in comic book form.

Before the internet and email, people used to write on pieces of paper and physically send them to each other as “letters”. As crazy as that sounds, a letter writing campaign by fans saved a little known science fiction series known as Star Trek.

After two seasons of exploring the universe in a starship made of plywood, Kirk and Spock were about to be cut loose to go where many failed shows had gone before. A fervent letter writing campaign convinced NBC to green light a third series, albeit with a lower budget. This third season of Star Trek ultimately failed in the ratings and led to its cancellation, however, it also brought the total number of episodes to 79, which allowed the series to be syndicated. It was the continuous repeats of Star Trek in syndication which led to its immense popularity amongst nerds everywhere.

Terra Nova may be dead as a dinosaur but fans of Ringer, Gossip Girl, The Mentalist and all three CSI incarnations should start planning their internet campaigns now. Ratings for these shows are down and the axe is being sharpened. Start looking for quirky things to post to your friendly TV network executives today.

Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 07:42  Leave a Comment  
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