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  1. John from Daejeon
    John from Daejeon December 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm . Reply

    I enjoyed Battlestar Galactica until its poorly conceived finale because it was not exactly conventional “science fiction.” Here was a poor man’s version of Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” on a ragtag group of space craft, of which, the only surviving ship capable of all but the most basic of battles with its antiquated weaponry was the very old, decommissioned, Battlestar Galactica. This TV series was a lot like that of the current horror TV series, The Walking Dead. Both deal with the apocalypse and the fallout that the survivors must overcome if the human race is to survive. Both lack many of our basic necessities in life such as enough food to eat, adequate housing, water, dissension from within, stability, and medicine/medical technology. Both societies are as close to the razor’s edge as can be in terms of survival thanks to the unraveling of “civilization.”

    Would either show have been nearly as interesting if the survivors had all that they needed to survive with modern day/future conveniences in an underground military bunker some place? I seriously doubt that they would have been. But, in reality, neither show was/is a blockbuster hit with the general viewing public. In fact, in the U.S., fewer than 3% of the entire population of over 300 million even bothered to watch it BSG at all. This is not exactly what one would call a ringing endorsement or a major hit, but in a world going “reality TV (i.e. cheap)” crazy, any sci-fi is better than none at all. And maybe the series using the dreadful handful of gods in its cannon might actually be a backwards attempt to get a few of the bible thumpers in our world thinking that their one god foolhardy belief might just be that, and that alone can’t be all bad.

    I am also grateful that we have had quite a few quality alternatives like Farscape, Firefly, and ReGenesis.

  2. John from Daejeon
    John from Daejeon December 7, 2011 at 1:48 am . Reply

    Actually, I am being way too generous with the 3% as it averaged out to less than 2% over the life of the series. And dvr penetration back when the series aired was nowhere near where it is now at 42% of the viewing audience. In 2007, it was about 15%. Personally, I’ve been extremely grateful that I’ve been able to dvr all of my television shows since 1999 thanks to DishNetwork and DirecTV and working in the ratings biz helped in my getting preview, and live, feeds of a lot of TV programs.

    I’m not trying to shortchange the series as the SyFy network ran episodes several times an evening and then over the weekend and following week garnering a total cume (cumulative) rating—they wanted every viewer they could get. Trust me when I say this, if the ratings had been anywhere near, or over, 3% of the U.S. population, the show would have lasted a lot longer. For comparison purposes, the current top-ranked drama, NCIS, is seen by about 25 million viewers each week or slightly over 8% of the total viewing audience available and includes live plus 7day dvr numbers in the total 25 million as well. And remember Stargate the TV series? It was able to last 10 seasons with several TV movies and spin-offs with comparable ratings, but it cost much less to produce than BSG.

    What the public doesn’t understand is that relatively few people (in the grand scheme of things) actually watch mainstream network television anymore as computer gaming, social networking, fantasy sports leagues, and alternative viewing sources eat away at the number of eyeballs that commercial advertisers are so desperate to keep. Cable TV (in the U.S.) is doing well because the production costs are supported by paying viewers though their cable and satellite subscription fees as each network gets a piece of the money pie. Hell, repeats of NCIS on USA network are among the highest rated on all of cable television and higher in repeats that BSG ever was in first-run episodes. Also, many people are sick and tired of being burned by becoming invested in new television shows to only see them pulled after a few episodes due to low ratings. They figure they can just download the series later or buy the dvds if it makes it through one or multiple seasons.

    So yeah, I haven’t really explained the perceived phenomenon that was the new Battlestar Galactica, but a lot of that had to do with new technology (blogs and torrents) and all the Sci-Fi community publicity that was generated by this re-Imagineering of a fond cult classic. This is akin to making a mountain out of a mole hill or blowing something way out of proportion. This is also why I liked and watched the series—there was nothing else much for us “science fiction” fans to get behind at the time (or any other time for that matter). It’s also why I try to find the good in a lot of, what many consider to be, these lesser sci-fi series. Yes, Firefly might have looked like cowboys in space, but it was closely related to Dave Wolverton’s first novel, and classic, “On My Way to Paradise.” Besides Whedon’s incorporation of Paradise in many of the episodes, he pretty much borrowed the Alliance and brain manipulation/transplantation as well when you look at Tamara in Paradise and River Tam in Firefly.

    “I wanted to write back sooner, but I am pretty ill right now. I just hope some of my points make sense.”–John

  3. John from Daejeon
    John from Daejeon December 9, 2011 at 2:49 am . Reply

    A couple of years ago, three percent was a certain death sentence, but depending on the demographics (mostly age and wealth), some shows have been able to last quite a few seasons (“Community,” “Chuck,” “Parks & Recreation,” etc.) due to TV executives’ hopes that there will be a good deal of future ancillary money due to syndication sales. Plus, with the right demos, shows with actually fewer viewers can make much more money selling commercials than those that are viewed by much larger older audiences. In addition, it also depends on who produces the program. Years ago, there were countless production companies, but now most networks produce their own programming in a return to vertical integration of the early 1900’s film industry. They do this to save money in the short term and in hopes of making more money over the long haul. Also, in the case of the aforementioned programs, NBC had/has nothing better to replace them with as they found out the hard way after Jay Leno’s primetime move debacle.

    What’s really amazing is that it is all pretty much a ponzi scheme, especially now as more and more people no longer watch commercial television outside of sporting events—Professional and College football in the United States are the real ratings winners as they draw in huge numbers of live eyes that hopefully aren’t fast-forwarding the commercials or skipping them like so many are now able to do with dvrs I know for a fact that many people do record the games and join in at a later time in order to skip the commercials as I do myself. And, while soccer is more popular worldwide, it isn’t easy to fill with commercials when there are no breaks during the matches.

    For the time being, “How I Met Your Mother” doesn’t cost too much to produce and brings in enough viewers that we will be waiting to find out who Ted marries for the foreseeable future. Personally, I find Ted and Marshall annoying as hell, but I watch for Robin and Barney. It looks like Charlie’s meltdown did not doom “Two and a Half Men,” and it looks like the show and Ashton are here for a while as well.

    And why is this? Well, for those of us who religiously watch TV, there aren’t a lot of alternatives other than revisiting great programs from the past (I’m re-watching the 1960’s great, “The Avengers,” right now). Anyway, I believe that the U.S. will soon give in whole-heartedly to the British system of (at most) 13 episode seasons per year, especially as most cable produced programs are now doing this (“Psych,” “Burn Notice,” “The Closer,” “Futurama,” “Archer,” etc.) or giving in to reality (“Mythbusters,” “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers,” etc.). If you get a chance, I highly recommend “Archer.” It stands will above “How I Met Your Mother.”

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