Sunday, 31 October 2010

Caprica still cancelled: A frakking open letter

I've been waiting for an updated press release before posting this, but since the scheduling change notice is still the only official statement out there about the show's cancellation and I got an order confirmation from Amazon yesterday saying that the season 1.5 DVD will indeed be released on December 21, there is just no reason for further delay.

The post is addressed to Syfy, NBC Universal, Comcast, other Caprica fans, and just about anyone who is interested in reading it.

And yeah, let's ping DirecTV too, the Obi-Wan to good shows axed too soon (Friday Night Lights, Damages) that also happens to like its actors enough to get them Emmy nods. It's always a long shot, but you never know when they're looking for their next underdog.

Let's start with you, Syfy.

The show you had on your hands had the premise that could have made it a more interesting work of science fiction than Battlestar was. You had the team of writers with the best genre shows in the last two decades on their resumes. A cast on the scale from "great" to "frakking relevation." Bear McCreary. Directors, production design team and VFX guys big networks wish they had on a single show. One of the most interesting universes ever created. The rare, unlikely combination of great talent and great storylines that comes around maybe once or twice a decade.

And somehow, you have been unable to make this show work for you. So this is what we got (again):

18 episodes stretched over three years, with three separate DVD releases, only now with two very special new twists: the show won't continue past those 18 episodes and season 1.75, which you just pushed back to 2011, will be premiering on DVD. The only explanation you offered is that it's just what makes the most sense.

Seriously, how? Do you think that more people will buy the DVD of a show you just yanked off your schedule to air re-reruns? Or are you just hoping that fewer people will notice that season one doesn't wrap up the story at all and that, despite everything you said about believing in this show, you have absolutely no interest in even letting Caprica end on its own terms? Here are a couple of quotes, from Ron Moore and Alessandra Torresani, just for reference:

What can we expect from the season finale?
[Ron Moore:] "A cliffhanger - multiple cliffhangers! We've just started general discussions for a second season, but we don't know if we're getting renewed yet. We know where certain stories would take us. I'm hopeful that we'll get picked up - I'm feeling good!"

In the event that you don't get renewed, will the season one finale serve well as a series finale?
"No! No - it would not be a satisfying way to end the show, I'll put it that way. It's fifty years before Battlestar, so we can't end it at any time we want. It depends how far ahead we want to jump in the story."-- Digital Spy

Since a second season is still up in the air, could these last 10 episodes wrap up the narrative on their own?
[Alessandra Torresani:] It would be really disappointing if it didn’t go to a second season. At Comic-Con, [executive producers] Ron Moore and David Eick sat us all down, and [told us] probably the most genius second-season plan I have ever heard. It would be mind-blowing to me if we didn’t get to do that, because there’s so much more to tap in. There are so many secrets that no one knows about, that only [Moore and Eick] do. I would be disappointed if we didn’t go to a second season, because the back ten explain a lot. -- EW


So, with no renewal and no episodes airing any time soon, the question is, in what universe exactly does this complete and utter show of contempt for the show, all the people involved in making it, and everyone who has stuck with it so far, make any kind of sense?

Considering the nod Caprica got on The Big Bang Theory this week, I'm betting this decision was not only sudden, but also that you have some tricks up your sleeve as plan B. Well, if that's the case, roll'em out already, and let's see what they are. If it's just more BS about listening to fans and another round of reconsidering decisions that shouldn't have been made to begin with, oh well. We can never have enough of that, can we?

And just to state the obvious here:

As someone who liked Battlestar enough to start a blog for its spinoff without even knowing who would be involved in the show, and to continue updating it despite the laughably bad campaign (Dallas in space, seriously?), I can only say that, with everything Caprica had going for it in the creative department and in the fan base department, there were only so many ways for you to fail as miserably as you have doing what should have been the equivalent of selling candy to five-year-olds.

My point here is, I was never an easy fan to lose. And yet now, other than filling out the occasional NBC consumer survey, if only to vent all the bitterness that has piled up over the last six months, watching you spread false hope, feed false information to people who have been nothing but supportive of your shows, mislead the cast, possibly the the producers too (see: season two mapped out in greater detail than BSG), and then send Caprica to get murdered against first-run network competition in a tougher slot, with a lead-in that had ratings only a tick above it (Stargate Universe), I wouldn't find time for your programming even if you brought Firefly, Terminator and Jericho back tomorrow. 

I am looking at last week's ratings for HBO's In Treatment – 0.0 in the key demo – and have yet to see a cancellation announcement. Also, the ratings for AMC's Rubicon and Terriers on FX – two shows with numbers consistently worse than Caprica's, that were/are allowed to finish their runs and have not yet been officially cancelled.

Even Fox, a network that does live or die by the C-3 ratings, that doesn't have half of its revenue coming from paying subscribers, that has at least three scripted shows that are worth my time airing every week, allowed its underperforming quality genre shows to wrap up their stories (see: Dollhouse season two, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2.5) before sending them off to Z'ha'dum.

Why am I mentioning this? Because, clearly, not every business decision in your world is about money and not every network treats its quality shows with the grace of a crack whore who will pimp her children to strangers and throw her own mother under the bus for some fast cash. Which is exactly the impression I get when I see what you have been doing to the Battlestar franchise in the last couple of years, first with your failed marketing campaign for Caprica and now with the one for Blood and Chrome. High concept space soap wasn't good, but at least the ambition behind it wasn't to reduce Battlestar's legacy to war, vipers, violence, and other commercial crap that made Spartacus: Blood and Sand a freak hit on a network that actually had the balls to air the concept first.

In considering whether or not to continue supporting the BSG franchise by moving on and trying to look forward to Blood and Chrome, I realized that, even if I do decide to check it out down the line because BSG was just that important to me, encouraging other people to get invested in anything that comes from your channel, after the experience I've had with Caprica, would just make me feel fucking corrupt. Because now, everything just boils down to helping your cheap little channel make more money off people like me to create less programming for people like me. Beyond the season 1.5 DVD, the last bit of storytelling special enough to earn a spot on my DVD shelf, I am done supporting anything you have to offer.

Which leads us to the campaigns launched over the last couple of days. (If you're a fan and asleep at this point - poke.)

First stop, Operation Airlock. I don't know who started it, but consumer activism – an organized boycott of the Syfy network and their sponsors – sounds like a fitting response to a situation that reinvents the whole concept of "unacceptable." Now, I know that there are people out there who feel that this is not a constructive response (and it absolutely isn't meant to be), but with nothing whatsoever to be constructive about at this point, might as well add some punch to that middle finger.

Why? Well, whether you are a paying subscriber, or you buy the DVDs, or you have a Nielsen box and are a pair of eyeballs that they sell back to advertisers, if you are pissed off about the cancellation and not interested in having the conversation on Syfy's terms, Operation Airlock's Facebook page is just the right place to shake that outraged consumer stick.

If, on the other hand, you feel that there is still hope that the show will get to finish its story if you present your case nicely, or you'd just rather not hurt Syfy too much before they put out Blood and Chrome or cancel the other show you're still watching on their network, there is the polite campaign, Save Caprica. There is also the petition, Caprica for Season Two. And you can email the key execs at mark.stern@nbcuni.com (Syfy programming exec Mark Stern) and dave.howe@nbcuni.com (Syfy president Dave Howe).

You can find some other campaigns linked at LilCylons.com

Okay, that's it for now. The blog will return with updates of the regular variety in a few days.

10 comments:

Kate Bornstein said...

Thank you. What a frakking articulate summary of the senseless cancellation of a great show. We should've suspected the network execs weren't on the side of the fans the day they took SciFi out of the network's name, and added wrestling to their playbill. And I LIKE WRESTLING. It's just not SciFi. OK... enough. Again, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Blood N Chrome I understand is going to be webisodes first, then as they develope an audience they will take it to the TV, which channel is unsure.

Caprica just needs to switch networks, along with all BSG stuff so we all can see our series. They are taking off some of those CSI series time to stick some Sci-Fiction on for a change.

P.M.Newton said...

"treats its quality shows with the grace of a crack whore who will pimp her children to strangers and throw her own mother under the bus for some fast cash"

Will be retweeted for that line alone.

Well argued & more power to your middle finger!

Scott McEwan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott McEwan said...

Beautifully worded, eloquent outcry of the mis-treatment of our beloved Caprica. Very well done!

Anonymous said...

Best. Rant. Ever.

I will definitely be emailing those sponsors, as I have a few things to say myself!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for speaking out. I hope they have a change of heart.

They really failed at marketing this show. Maybe the childlike eve creeped too many people out. They could have done much better.

Move it to showtime or something maybe!

noybusiness said...

I hope you have or will email to Syfy feedback, the president, and the execs, especially the reasoning parts of this letter.

They said Blood & Chrome didn't necessitate taking Caprica off the air. And I didn't think the ratings were low enough that the proper reaction is MUST cancel. What is going on here?

Anonymous said...

"...now, everything just boils down to helping your cheap little channel make more money off people like me to create less programming for people like me. "

Exactly.

Anonymous said...

Syfy fail. No doubt about it. I, like you, am ready to toss in the towel; however, I can't participate in the death of the BSG franchise. I'm going to support Blood and Chrome if it kills me - even it means having that gods awful Syfy logo burned into my retina.

As for your open letter - I hope you got it to the Syfy/NBC execs, somehow. It would be a real pisser if the only ones who read it were the disenfranchised fans.

Also, while I heard about Op. Airlock, I haven't checked them out yet - I'll do so now. Thanks for mentioning it for those who were clueless.

There's another movement that's slowly developing, as well: The Avenging Angels (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Avenging-Angels/170644326302318). They have a pretty straightforward agenda too: if we can't save Caprica, then let's start saving other quality shows before the suits start axing them. :) Gotta love proactive geeks. :D