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AngelAngel was the ONLY ONE that posted a gain this year on WB
Sunday 20 June 2004, by Webmaster
So I got the new Entertainment Weekly (Tom Hanks cover), and there’s a report on the final ratings for every broadcast series from the past season. Curiousity got the best of me, and I decided to check out how The WB’s shows stacked up. Obviously, I did it out of my Angel fandom.
Get this: of the top seven WB shows, Angel was the ONLY ONE that posted a gain this year. Its overall ratings were up 8%. That’s not super-huge, but it’s fairly significant for a show in its fifth season. The other six all dove, some precipitously. 7th Heaven dropped 15%. Smallville plummeted by a stunning 25% from last year. Everwood and Charmed both dropped 4%. Reba lost 11%. And critical darling Gilmore Girls went down 21%. For an even more shocking number, the final episode this year posted almost 1.5 million more viewers than normal; stunningly the numbers for the finale even beat the numbers for the finale of its parent show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Clearly, something was going on here.
In addition to the "show reset" that Angel did this year, the show sold strongly on DVD (the first three seaons are out) and has become a staple of TNT’s syndication rotation. Essentially, that means that The WB’s argument that Angel was inaccessible to new viewers has an awful lot of holes. If all of TV is a game of numbers and money, then I’m frankly baffled as to why a show with growing numbers that’s obviously capable of generating money gets dumped when other gems of the net are bleeding viewers. What’s more remarkable is that the two genre shows that were alleged to take Angel’s place, the ill-conceived Dr. Smith-less Lost in Space remake and the ill-conceived hasn’t-this-failed-once-already Dark Shadows re-remake, both failed to make The WB’s fall slate. What will occupy the old Angel slot? Sketch comedy shows from Drew Carey (who already had a sitcom AND a sketch comedy show shitcanned by ABC in the last year) and Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck comics.
The only thing that seems to make any sense at all is the fact that The WB blanched because they had to pay a bit more for the show, since it was a 20th Century Fox production. Still, increased ratings, word-of-mouth, and the ability to sell product are usually seen as desirable things. The fact that UPN didn’t pick up Angel they way they did with Buffy (which was not cancelled, but rather, moved) has more to do with the fact that UPN lost money on the Buffy manuever and is busy pissing away cash on the swiftly sinking Enterprise (all I need to say there is "Alien Nazis"; didn’t Roddenberry already beat the fuck out of that dead horse once?).
I believe that the Angel situation and the bleak nature of the fall line-up for every network underscores my earlier point: the broadcast networks become more irrelevent by the year. Fates willing, Whedon can reconvene his big stars in the next year or two and give the Buffyverse the big, all-star action blow-out it deserves as a final chapter. Until then there’s animation, DVD, comics, and the glimmering hope that is cable.
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