Written by: Macgyver (SoSF Fan Contributor)
The letter writing campaign
It’s 1968, your a geek, and you have one thing to obsess over. Gene Roddenberry’s “wagon train to the stars” Star Trek. The opening titles promise you a “5 year mission to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldy go where no man has gone before”. A 5 year mission that is, until it’s canceled after it’s second season ends.
And Star Trek was never heard from again.
Well, not quite. Two phenomena were born that year, and the first was, as far as I’m aware, unheard of. Some enterprising (no pun intended) fans started a letter writing campaign to get Kirk, Spock and Bones back on the air and flooded the studio with envelopes. And it worked. While they didn’t end up with their 5 year mission, they did get 3 years. An extra season of the show. It sucked, but it was enough to kick off the second phenomena which was the Star Trek fandom, that laid the ground for all other crazy costume wearing nerds that followed in the decades to come.
Alas, letters don’t cut it anymore and email doesn’t have any impact, but we’ll get back to that later.
Trek would have died there if it wasn’t for the second way to get your franchise back
Leech of someone else’s success
We’re sticking with Star Trek here, as that’s what history did. The show ended the same year man set foot on a sound-stage that looked like the moon (just kidding). There was an animated spin off that’s a bizarre footnote in history, but Star Trek was dead. As was science fiction at the movies and TV in general. A young man called Stephen Spielberg made a film with a too small boat and a broken shark called Bruce that kick started the movie blockbuster, and one of his friends sealed the deal with a remake of The Hidden Fortress. George Lucas’ “The Star Wars” (which later dropped the the and added a sub title) made a bajillion kajillion googlymoogly dollars and studios scrambled to find a property they could stick out to capitalize on the success. Paramount found their copy of Star Trek and churned out a pretty crappy movie. It made enough to spawn some good follows ups (and some not so good) that in turn led to some new TV series, and the franchise was back. If your a fan, this is a very passive way to hope for your show to come back, so doesn’t really help us.
Buy the gorram DVDs
Two shows that I’m aware of have had some kind of new life due to DVD sales. Family Guy has been canceled not once but twice, only to come back because the DVD sales were so good. Doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere this time which is nice. The other show is one that has had more fan support than I could sum up here, but still gets the bums rush. Firefly was canned before most of it had aired, and found new life as people finally discovered it on DVD (myself included). Instead of returning to TV it was given a feature length spin off, creator Joss Whedon planning a trilogy to tell the tale that the show would have. Even though it made its money, there’s no sequel in the works and there probably never will. While this tactic seems to be 50/50 it is pretty solid. If there’s one thing that bean counters will notice, it’s a big batch of beans.
Find a new home
There’s 3 shows that have been saved in this way, and it is something the fans can help out with by appealing to the possible new home to pick your show up.
This might not be chronological, but the first show is Babylon 5. Another 5 year arc, sort of like the original Trek but this was actually a planned story, cut short to 4 years by its home. B5 actually faced cancellation pretty much every year, but the end of the 4th season was pretty much going to be it. So show creator JMS crammed the last two years of his story in to one to get it told. Then TNT stepped in and picked the show up for it’s fifth season. While the fifth season lacks the quality of the second to fourth ones, it did let Straczynski finish off his tale which makes a nice change. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Crusade, the spin off on the same network, but that’s another story.
Stargate SG-1 had a large 7 year span on it’s home network before being told to pack it’s bags and move out from the garage. After crying a little (not T’ealc though) it got lodgings at the Sci-Fi channel, back when they used to give a crap, and stayed for 3 years giving birth to a sister show. The two Stargate’s were tent poles for the channel. While SG-1 ended up being jerked around, I see a theme here, and canceled a year earlier than expected it did become the longest running science fiction show because of its new home. And Atlantis is on it’s 4th season.
Sci-Fi also stepped in to pick up a huge cult show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, after it was canceled by Comedy Central for some reason. Mike and the bots lasted another 3 years on the skiffy network, riffing on another 48 movies, before Best Brains were told to strike the sets. The show could have lasted indefinitely due to the format, but securing rights for the films to riff on were apparently too much of a pain in the ass.
Still, new homes have given us at least 4 seasons of existing shows, one new spin off and 48 cheesy movies, the worst Pearl Forrester could find (lalala).
Send them stuff
And we find ourselves in the present year. Back in May, a fledgling show called Jericho had a cliffhanger ending with a big battle starting under the end credits. “Woah, can’t wait to see what happened!” “Sorry, shows canceled.” “Dicks!”
Thankfully, that wasn’t the end. While my level of appreciation for Jericho was in the “eh, ‘s aright” category I do prefer my shows to end. This wasn’t an Angel end of show hopeless battle due to cancellation, this was a to be continued battle. Much like their predecessors 39 years before had done, the Jericho fans set about getting their show back. But letters wouldn’t cut it. That’s when a fan latched on to a story from the show of a General saying “nuts” to the enemy. The fans sent nuts. Truck loads.
While Jericho might not be back for a full blown series, they are getting the rest of the story. I believe it’s going to be about 7 shows next year to tie things up, or it’ll keep going if enough people watch. Nuts indeed.
Which brings us to the point of all this rambling. The Dresden Files was canceled after a lot of “is it coming back” speculation of fans, for no damned good reason. It was a good show. Instead the Sci-Fi network have thrown their lot in with Flush Boredom, which itself is looking to be canceled (and that’s good, not EVERYTHING should be saved). Like any show with a fan base, there is a campaign to bring it back using Jericho tactics. I’d also suggest that you buy the DVDs.
Instead of nuts, Dresden fans are urged to send drum sticks as that’s what Harry uses as a wand in the show. Hockey Sticks are too big, and I don’t think they would appreciate skulls. Details for where to mail the sticks to can be found here.
In addition to buying the DVDs and mailing a stick, I’d also urge fans to register and vote at this site. It’s an official thing set up by Nielsen, who do the TV ratings in the States, and getting a high rating on there could really do something.
So go spread the word (I wouldn’t normally mention this but there’s a link for this on reddit, Digg, Netscape, Del.icio.us, mag.nolia and stirrdup so vote this up if you have accounts, not bothered about my goodness just want the word up). Magic might be able to get a guy killed, but fans can get his show renewed. All of the above, well most, is proof of that. If Star Trek, Stargate Sg-1, Babylon 5, Jericho, MST3K, Firefly, Family Guy and Farscape (which I didn’t mention, but they got a mini-series and webisodes are on the way) are proof of anything it’s that cancellation isn’t forever if there’s a strong fanbase.