Is it really the end for ”Galactica”?
The executive producers behind Battlestar Galactica announced the other week that they were wrapping up the space drama after the upcoming fourth season. A statement from Ronald Moore and David Eick reads: ”This show was always meant to have a beginning, a middle and, finally, an end. Over the course of the last year, the story and the characters have been moving strongly toward that end, and we’ve decided to listen to those internal voices and conclude the show on our own terms.”
I have two problems with this. The first is, I love the show (although I feel season 3 was not as strong as seasons 1 and 2) and am bummed it will be ending so soon. The second is, I’m not convinced this decision was made by Moore and Eick. Look, the fact remains that Battlestar is (for cable) a very expensive show to produce. But that big budget has not translated into big ratings. Last year the program was being buzzed about as the best drama on television. Critics raved, geeks rejoiced, and fans flocked to the Internet to watch things called webisodes. Hell, the show even made the cover of Entertainment Frakin’ Weekly. The season 3 premiere was poised to break all sorts of viewership records. Or so we thought. Amazingly, the premiere episode had even fewer viewers than the season 2 premiere. It lost people instead of gaining them. The Sci Fi Channel went into panic mode and switched time slots from Friday to Sunday night, which helped only marginally. The show ended up averaging about 2.3 million viewers an episode, or, to put it in perspective, about a third as much as inane fare such as Ghost Whisperer.
The Sci Fi Channel announced the drama was coming back for another season, but with only 13 episodes. That was the first warning shot that the network might be wary of spending more big bucks for a mediocre-ratings performer. The order was eventually bumped up to 22, but one couldn’t help feeling the end was near. Especially if you remember what happened to Farscape. Farscape was another costly, critically acclaimed, lowly rated show on Sci Fi. At the height of its big buzz (which, granted, was nowhere as big as Galactica’s), the channel pulled the plug, with the cast members eventually splintering off into wildly inferior shows like Stargate. (Sorry, Stargate fans. Be gentle with your hate mail.)
So despite the recent statement by Moore and Eick, I can’t help assuming that this was not the executives’ decision after all. You see, it’s not the Cylons that have been plaguing Adama and Apollo all this time — it’s the Nielsens. Trust me, if ratings were through the roof, we wouldn’t be talking about this show going off the air. As for the Sci Fi Channel, it’s easy for us to bitch and moan at networks for canceling our favorite shows, but then again, it’s not our money going down the drain. As much as I loved Farscape, it was a cult show with a cult audience, and as much as it sucked to see it go, it was hard to gripe. Galactica, however, has definitely reached a more mainstream audience — an audience that might not otherwise bother to check out the channel. That’s a pretty precious commodity these days. And then there is the matter of the ratings themselves. It’s not just that Galactica is down in viewers — everything is down. This is because people don’t watch television like they used to. They’re watching them later on DVRs, iPods, and DVDs. I can’t tell you how many people I know who were not watching season 3 of Battlestar because they were furiously catching up on the first two seasons on DVD. The old model is antiquated. In any event, Moore and Eick can put on a brave face, but I highly doubt ending the drama was all about mere creative control. Of course, that may turn out to be a good thing, because it means if you really want to save Battlestar Galactica, you only have to do one thing — WATCH THE DAMN SHOW!
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
It’s baaaaaack! Perhaps the most fabulously awful reality show ever, Paradise Hotel, is set to make its triumphant return on Fox Reality and MyNetwork TV. (See, it’s so awesome that one mere channel can not contain it — it needs to be simulcast on two!) I wasted an entire summer waiting to see who would get banished each week from paradise…for-evaaaaa! The show was incredible in the way that they stuck a bunch of brain-dead hotties at a resort together and then watched them talk incessantly about ”the game,” even though none of us were even sure what said game was. (There was no prize announced until the very end of the show.) What was even better was how the producers shamelessly kept changing the rules and bringing back ousted contestants to make sure they had their preferred troublemakers around as long as possible. I couldn’t help but obsess over this program, even watching every episode of its inferior sequel, Forever Eden (in which one blond bimbo actually asked an African-American why his feet were so black). If you missed Paradise Hotel the first time around…well, then you have pretty good taste. But I encourage you to at least take a gander at the second season, whenever it starts airing. Hey, you never know when bug-eyed Toni is going to make her triumphant return!
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