More today from Matt Roush and his readers, as fandom spins on its worry-axis...
Question: This is in response to someone who wrote about the large number of sci-fi shows with impressive pedigrees coming to Fox in the next year or two. You pointed out that the expectations will be very high because of the attachment of names like J.J. Abrams, Ron Moore and Joss Whedon. I certainly think this is a problem, particularly since I'm not sure that these producers will live up to expectations. You've remarked before on a phenomenon that I've noticed, too: TV is much better at making new stars than it is at repackaging old ones. Actors who have starred in hit shows and have then gone on to do a show of equal or greater success are few and far between. But I've noticed that the track record for superstar producers hasn't been that great either in the last 15 years or so. Once upon a time, it seemed there were producers (Donald Bellisario, Steven J. Cannell, Aaron Spelling) who had a lock on creating successful shows. But now a lot of the superstars seem like one- or two-hit wonders. Whedon had Buffy and Angel, but when he moved beyond that universe with Firefly, it never really caught on with wider audiences. J.J. Abrams had Alias, and played a role in the creation of Lost, but his role on the latter now is essentially nothing, and he's had other small-screen flops like Six Degrees. Ron Moore had success with Deep Space Nine and has created the remarkable Battlestar Galactica, but let's not forget that he is also responsible for Bionic Woman. I wonder if it's too much to expect lighting to strike twice or three times for these guys. The most successful serial producers now are probably Dick Wolf and Jerry Bruckheimer, who are essentially cloning a successful format to other shows. Producers like Abrams, Moore and Whedon seem unsatisfied with that approach. They want to take new creative tacks, and sometimes, perhaps often, that doesn't work. — Jeff
Matt Roush: Interesting topic, and while I won't refute the specifics of your arguments (except to say that Firefly was only a failure because of Fox's short-sightedness, not because of anything on-screen), I will just remind everyone that TV is a brutal business and the failure rate is spectacularly high, especially for those who try not to repeat themselves. (Those who keep making the same show over and over again, with minor variations, are to me contributing to the death of TV.) These guys you're talking about are also, for the most part, producing in genres that traditionally are the riskiest. We're lucky that they keep trying, and in Joss's case, that he's deciding to return to the medium again. But it's also true that every so often (Six Degrees, Bionic Woman), one of their shows even actually deserves to fail. But unlike so much of the industry, I'm not of the mind that you judge a talent only by what they've done lately as long as they pick themselves back up and keep trying something new. The fact that the media now force them to operate under a microscope of relentless scrutiny makes the process harder, I'm sure, but when a miracle like Lost or Battlestar Galactica or Buffy comes along, isn't it worth it?
Very thoughtful discussion -- despite the fact that Ron Moore had nothing to do with BIONIC WOMAN. That was David Eick people! [Hat tip to Whedonesque]