LAST EDITED ON 07-24-07 AT 02:50 AM (EST)
What I hope will be debated here and in other forums and in the boardrooms and hallways of several networks is whether or not American audiences will continue to 'buy into' a genre that, at the networks’ discretion, is a larceny.
Let's call it RTV burn-out. There are still hardcore fans for the long-running biggies (Survivor, Big Brother and Amazing Race) and even these shows have been seeing declining ratings. Kid Nation is supposed to bring some novelty into the RTV genre, but I have a notion that it won't fare very well at all, maybe even as poorly as Pirate Master. Then we have a whole host of RTV-style elimination contest shows, more than I can count on both hands, ranging from talent acts, singing, dancing, movie directing, cooking, dating, and more, ad nauseam.
The only flies I foresee in shows like Kid Nation are those on the carcase of a prematurely canceled show. What demographic is going to remain interested in a bunch of brats on the playground? Parents rule the remote and buy those Fords, not the kids. With so many kids, too, who to identify with? Nah, pass.
One problem with RTV series is in its asking the viewer to make an emotional commitment for an entire season, cheering for those contestants who they want to see stay on and booing those contestants they dispise but who have the wits to keep themselves in the game. I know before I get too involved in an RTV series, I ask myself "Do I really want to watch this for a whole season? Is it interesting enough to commit to watching every week?". If you miss some episodes along the way, you feel like you've lost track of the game and you lose interest.
Then we have the Black Eye network panic-button mode of operation. A slip in the ratings and the show goes *poof*, unless a large fan base sends in tons of peanuts screaming for the return of the show. Geez, the least the network can do is to suffer a minor defeat with poor ratings for a few weeks rather than to alienate its fan base in the long term. After a mid-season cancellation, I wouldn't trust the network to carry through in its promise to air an RTV series for an entire season, and thus I'm far less likely to commit to watching it to begin with. Kiss your new show bye-bye unless you've really got something that attracts my interest. A minor tactical ratings defeat becomes a strategic loss in the ratings war.
So, boo-hiss on the Black Eye network for canceling Pirate Master, even as mediocre as it was. Some creative mixing around of the format might have saved the ship from sinking. But the only creativity the Black Eye execs seem to have is a single flourish of a red pen. And forget it, if they think I'm going to watch it on the web. I've got better things to do than spend one hour a week watching a YouTube redux of the same thing week after week.
Piracy on the high seas and flying of the Jolly Roger by agman