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Great Expectations: The Return of Sci-Fi Friday

I don’t have a reputation for being the world’s most positive person. In fact, my friends have in the past accused me of having my very own “little black rain cloud.” But as the premiere of FOX’s new Friday night combo of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse approaches, I’ve been feeling like Little Mary Sunshine in a sea of Doubting Thomases!

Ever since FOX announced that these two shows would be partnered on Friday nights, critics and fans have been downright gloomy about their prospects:

“Friday is where shows go to die.”

“I don’t know why Joss even bothered getting into bed with FOX again. This show is as good as cancelled.”

“Guess we aren’t getting another season of Terminator.”

People can’t even mention the premiere of Dollhouse without cynically grumping that we’ll be lucky to get four episodes. That’s right. The first episode hasn’t even aired and people are already writing the series’ obituary.

Is the economy bringing everyone down? Or have years of genre TV fandom beaten folks to a pulp? Things are not right in the world when *I'm* the voice of positive thinking!

Why can't we look forward to these shows without fretting about their possible end? Why is it so hard to just enjoy the ride while it lasts? However short it is. Maybe Dollhouse will be awesome, but get crappy ratings and we only get a few episodes. Or maybe it won’t be any good at all. If so, let's cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, can't we just hope for the best without preparing for the worst?

Don't get me wrong, I understand why people are gun shy. I’ve been burned by FOX before. Was I bummed that Wonderfalls only aired four episodes before being cancelled? Yes. Do I feel pretty bittersweet about only having 13 episodes of that fun and quirky series to continually enjoy? Yes. But at the same time, I'm so grateful for those 13. Same goes for shows like Firefly and Invasion. Yes, it sucks that these shows didn't get more time to shine---and I do at times feel pretty wistful about what could have been---but I will always be glad I got to spend time in those worlds. At least for a little while. And I like to approach new shows with that same hope for something great, even if it is short-lived.

I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the premiere of FOX’s Sci-Fi Friday. I understand ratings aren't likely to be stellar. But ratings expectations probably won't be as high either. I can’t wait to see what Joss has in store for us with Dollhouse---even if it does get cancelled after four episodes. And I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of Terminator, Season 2. Even if that’s all we ever get, at least we got to enjoy two seasons of some awesome ass-kicking and surprisingly character-focused storytelling. And for that, I'm grateful.

So how about some positive thinking?


  1. When you're right, you're right. I blame my complete lack of optimism directly on Fox.

    But I'm going to give myself a big talking to. Joss Whedon returns to television this Friday night! And his show is being paired with another show I love. I should be dancing around my living room. Excuse me for a moment while I go take a turn around the room. :)

  2. Hi Jess,

    One thing I don't understand (and I'm English, so humour me) is how Friday night seems to be the doom slot...yet BSG goes out on a Friday night (unless I'm mistaken) and no one seems to be panicking about that. Is it just on Fox that Friday night supposedly spells disaster?

    And if BSG goes out on a Friday night....and T:TSCC and DH are also scheduled for that night, does that mean there'll be a schedule conflict? I did try to work it out for myself but I don't understand all your weird time zones....lol.

  3. BSG is on cable, so the ratings expectations are even lower than on network TV. You can be a successful cable show with pretty low ratings. If BSG were on network TV, its ratings would be considered abysmal.

    T:SCC is set to air at 8:00 p.m., followed by Dollhouse at 9:00, and then BSG airs at 10:00. Really the perfect sci-fi line up from my perspective. A few years ago, my husband and I used to have Sci Fi Friday "date night" with Stargate: SG-1, followed by Stargate: Atlantis, then BSG. Then the Sci Fi Channel went and moved BSG to Sundays and screwed up what time of year they were airing things. When we first heard about the scheduling for the FOX shows, we were excited to get our "sci-fi date night" back. Another reason to be positive!

  4. Thanks Jess,

    I just looked up the viewing figures for BSG and for the first episode of season four they were 2.1 million. Which is absolutely freakish! I wonder how the show would have faired had it been aired on Fox? Surely if T:TSCC can manage almost six million and Fringe almost 9 million, it would've pipped those shows? If not, then I'm not sure what to say.

    Since ratings aren't such an issue for cable TV stations, if say T:TSCC got cancelled (WHICH WE ALL KNOW WILL NEVER HAPPEN.....EVER!!!!), is it possible that someone like the Scifi channel would take them on? Or doesn't it work like that? Has a precedent been set in the past, where a show has died on a main network, only to be resurrected by a cable channel?

    This all kind of puzzles me. The special effects on BSG look top notch. How on earth are they affording it?

  5. Whenever genre shows don't get picked up for another season by their current network, there is always talk that Scifi Channel will pick them up. But as far as I know they have only ever done this once - with Stargate SG-1. It's a shame, because they have lost out on a lot of viewership they could have gained from getting new episodes of shows like Firefly, Moonlight, etc. and we fans would've been happy to switch over!

    Sigh, if only. Of course, Scifi channel is always more than happy to pick up the episodes already made and show them as reruns, because that costs them a pittance. That burns me a bit... they're eager to get the old episodes but don't make a move to save the show that they will be making money off of later. Sigh.

    As for how Scifi channel is affording BSG's special effects... I really have no idea. But I'm glad it's been a success for them and we've gotten the entire series (even if they frustratingly decide to wait 10 months between seasons...) and at least we'll be getting the spinoff series Caprica too!

  6. History just sticks with a lot of viewers and Dollhouse has had similar production problems to Firefly.

    I do hope the show proves everyone wrong, both critically and commercially because it would be nice to have another successful Whedon show on TV.

  7. Well I certainly do not want to put myself in the position of defending Fox but we act like somehow the network itself, not the actually people running it, killed Firefly and Wonderfalls. There is a completely different regime at Fox from those days and of the current network programmers, Fox's Kevin Riley might be the best. Certainly better than at the Law and Order or CSI networks. I am hopefull yet realistic for the fate of T:SCC. I don't have any particular feeing about Dollhouse since I haven't seen it yet and it is possible that Joss will strike out on this one. No one is perfect but so far he is 3 for 3 which does tend to raise expectations. I just don't want to hear "Oh Dollhouse is crap" based on the first ten minutes of the first episode. The net fandom can be so impatient! I am just looking forward to Friday (My night starts at 7:00 with the HD version of Battlestar which is absolutely georgeous in a dark and depressing way. Never has depression looked so good).

  8. Thanks for your answers ladies and gents. Very informative :-)

  9. I just remembered another show that was canceled and picked up by another network: Buffy. It moved from the WB after five seasons and did the final two on UPN. I probably forgot that because neither the WB nor UPN are still with us.

    When I moved to Los Angeles right before season six of Buffy, there were billboards all over town with the words "Buffy lives!" (Here in Los Angeles, most of the billboards have entertainment content, which makes sense -- it's a company town.)

  10. Buffy wasn't so much canceled as stolen by UPN. The WB wanted Buffy back but would not offer as much money as UPN. Whether Buffy would have lived past season 5 if UPN had not offered more money is not clear. I don't know if Joss would have just folded the show or accepted less money (I guess actually it wasn't Joss but rather Fox Studios). At least this is what I understood.

  11. You're the voice of sanity in an insane world, Jess! We should thank whatever god is in charge of Fridays the 13th that we get even one episode of Whedony goodness.

  12. I've decided to be cautiously optimistic about Dollhouse. I did read some reviews (while avoiding spoilers), and they seem to be mixed so far in regards to the pilot and the first episode or two. So I'm not expecting it to wow me right away - I still trust in Joss of course, but I think it'll be one of those shows that takes a little bit to find its stride.

    Honestly, to this day I still haven't seen all of Buffy season 1. ;) And I don't think my life is lacking from missing a few of those middle episodes!

    Anyways, I too am just glad to have a Whedon show back on the air. Now would I be even more pleased if this new show were called Firefly Relaunched? Sure. But I'm looking forward to seeing where Whedon takes this, and hope Fox gives it a proper chance.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of things have changed since Wonderfalls and Firefly got cancelled. I don't just mean the new regime at Fox. We're now in the age of DV-Rs and Internet streaming, so let's hope they keep that in mind too when it comes to the success of the show...

  13. Talking about shows that were cancelled on one network and taken up by another...what about Babylon 5? My understanding is that they were on TV and they got cancelled. I don't know what network, since I started watching when they did the Babylon 5 marathon on cable to prepare newbies to the new and I believe final season.


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