Homepage > Joss Whedon’s Tv Series > Angel > News > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’
« Previous : Joss Whedon & Buffy/Angel/Firefly Cast - High Stakes 2004 Event - Photos 1
     Next : Seth Green - ’The Grudge’ Los Angeles Premiere - High Quality Photos 2 »

From Syfyportal.com


In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

By Scott Nance

Monday 25 October 2004, by Webmaster

In just about a week, a seeming eternity of campaign season polling, punditry and posturing will come down to this: Each of us as American voters will take on the solemn responsibility of choosing among competing candidates to elect those who will lead our nation into the future.

In so doing, we’re being asked to weigh a panoply of issues: defense spending, taxes, Social Security, healthcare, judicial nominations, and the list just goes on and on. Some of these matters are concrete concerns in our daily lives, while others are more academic or esoteric.

But what about electing candidates based on a true tangible issue that affects you day in and day out without fail? I’m talking about electing the candidates who promise you good science-fiction on television to watch.

Think that’s more the responsibility of the president of a television network than the president of the United States? Then think again.

Sure, basic content — developing and sustaining quality science fiction series — is the business of network and studio execs.

But through media regulation — or, more precisely deregulation — the federal government has had a dramatic role in creating an overall television atmosphere that has without question made it more difficult for sci-fi series to thrive.

The federal government, including the Federal Communications Commission, has eased media ownership rules significantly for several years now, enabling bigger and bigger media conglomerates to buy more and more media properties. The result has been consolidation: A small handful of Goliaths have bought all of the major television outlets, leading to fewer and fewer chances being taken on truly good, cutting-edge shows.

Like everything else in life, it all comes down to money. Television networks are no longer operations in-and-of themselves; they are simply profit or loss generators for much larger corporations, often companies whose main business may actually not even be in television. (The NBC network, for instance, is owned by General Electric.)

"The accounting focus on cost-to-profit ratio has caused the networks to emphasize cheap programs (like ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘Survivor’) that can predictably attract a younger audience," according to an online report from Changing the Channels, a project of the nonprofit Comenius Foundation. “Because advertisers will pay more for ‘young eyeballs,’ networks have canceled programs with huge ratings because they have older-skewing audiences. This practice has caused a huge loss of viewers in the 40-plus age bracket, who no longer find anything they want to watch."

Think this is still some abstract argument? Joss Whedon probably doesn’t think so. His innovative vampire series, “Angel,” is a direct victim of media consolidation.

Back in 1996, a fledgling network known as The WB took a chance on another Whedon project, a quirky show with a funny name, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” “Buffy” wasn’t an instant success, but The WB kept it on the air and let it build an audience. The WB invested in "Buffy" for a future return, and within a year or so, the Chosen One had indeed become a breakout hit. So the investment paid off.

Fast forward about seven years. The same network kills Whedon’s spinoff, “Angel,” even though “Angel” was often delivering ratings comparable to “Buffy” back in the day.

What had changed? The WB, which had already been part of the large Time Warner corporation, had been bought out in an even more massive merger with AOL. With a stock price to worry about, the folks at AOL were most concerned with maximizing profit and reducing costs.

The suits at The WB were at least as eager to please their masters at AOL by cutting costs as they were at putting on quality television, so they killed “Angel” at least in part to make way for something cheaper — their next “Fear Factor” or “Survivor.”

Still don’t buy into the evils of media consolidation? Then consider Barry Diller. Yes, the Barry Diller who once headed up the Sci-Fi Channel. In an industry hellbent on consolidation, Diller has been a welcome contrarian.

“Are we going to get real diversity? The program departments of these businesses are now so far down the chain of life in these giant enterprises that it’s a miracle that all shows on the air aren’t about rejection,” Diller told his former colleagues last year in a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters’ trade show.

“Conglomerates buy eyeballs. That’s it ... and they leverage — oh do they do that — they leverage their producing power to drive content — their distribution power — such as retransmission consent — to drive new services — and their promotional power to literally obliterate competitors. The old systems of course had flaws — but there was a tight yoke between what went on the air and the ultimate boss — and it was good that that chain was yanked both ways, often to the public’s great good fortune.

“No one knows what’s the best system for creativity, but for sure it doesn’t work great without the pride and passion of the boss on the line and engaged.

“Ten years ago, independents produced 16 new series. Last year they produced just one. It’s difficult to sustain an industry on one show, and, in fact the independents are dying in droves. Many of the small- and medium-sized ones are either out of business or work for the larger organizations, so they are, by definition, no longer independent.”

When Diller questions network diversity and points out the death of the independents, what he’s really talking about is the death of genre television, the senseless cancelations of “Farscape,” “Firefly,” “Wonderfalls,” and more. These series certainly are not “least-common-denominator” shows. They are most definitely not the next “Fear Factor” or “Survivor.”

What’s all this mean for the genre? It means for sci-fi television to ever return to the glory days of multiple “Star Treks,” “Babylon 5,” “Buffy” and more all on the air at once, it means we have to level the playing field so that the diversity and the independents Diller spoke of can once more thrive.

When you’re weighing a candidate’s stands on healthcare and the environment, while you’re at it, find out what they think about media regulation. And vote for the guy who’ll fight to make sure good sci-fi gets on the air and stays there.

7 Forum messages

  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    25 October 2004 16:59, by Anonymous
    What I think is ironic is the fact that all the Blockbuster movies coming out are of the same genre that’s getting cancelled on TV left and right. Hopefully, the younger generation watching these movies like LOTR, Spiderman, Starwars, etc. will develop better taste and expect something more than just finding out who’s sleeping with who, or who got voted off when they watch tv.
  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    25 October 2004 19:56, by Anonymous
    funny, its been so long and I’m still mad at the WB for their stupidity. Dumb, dumb Tv station. Actually not that mad, just feel pity for the guys. sad.
  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    26 October 2004 06:33, by Anonymous

    Sorry boys and girls, but that’s just communism. Look, I was pissed when ’Angel’ was cancelled. But you know what, shows like ’The Dead Zone’ and ’Monk’ have been keeping me busy. They’re good shows not to be wasted.

    Everybody wants to talk about ’fairness’ and ’diversity’. If you have a decent idea, it’ll get put on the air and have a shot. Why did Tony Shalhoub win an Emmy? Because people saw a good show with a great premise and great acting and rewarded it. You can’t just force people to come up with ideas by saying, "We’re going to make sure you let independents get in there." The free market means that sometimes you have to deal with crap. But it also means that when true gems come along, people will notice.

  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    28 October 2004 07:01, by Anonymous
    conservitives, f.c.c., and clear channel. they have messed up every good thing that we had going for us. they would gladly replace all our good shows with some wholesome family programming crap. see conservitive now means christian and christian means to suffer. the more you suffer the greater rewards you’ll get when you die. so take everything that you love or want to love and throw it away if you want to vote for bush. also why would you want to vote for a president who is ignorant enough to hold a belief in creationism over evolution. they have an agenda for us here in the u.s. thats even more screwed up than going after iraq when they didnt even attack us or plan to and thats to try to reunionize church and state as much as they can before we can cut them out like the cancer they are. now if you disagree with everything ive said thus far then just take a look at the patriot act and how it destroys every bit of privacy youve ever had in the false name of patriotism at a time when buying a flag was cool. whats even worse is that anybody that is a christian will vote for bush no matter what he says or does just for the simple fact that he is a christian. that really scares me. slowly but surley over time they will slowly take all of our rights and freedoms away in the name of their god. if you vote for bush your actually killing people and not just muslims or rival religions but your neighbors and family because he’ll sacrifice our troops for no reason at all such as in iraq. so think about who you’ll be sentencing to death if you vote for his dumb monkey looking ass.
  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    28 October 2004 16:08, by Anonymous
    You do know that Kerry is a Christian too, right? He’s actually Catholic. So, based on your rant, I guess your not voting for either candidate.
  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    28 October 2004 17:23, by Real American ( I care about what’s right and not other’s (...)
    Oh and here I thought people weren’t gonna to tell me who to vote for. My my my Micheal Moore has he’s own crummy thugs and hired goons.
  • > In The Voting Booth, Remember ’Angel’

    1 November 2004 05:25, by Anonymous
    he may be a catholic but at least he will not be trying to reunionize church and state. catholics are laid back. christians are bible thumping holy rollers that will stop at nothing to take away all artistic freedom. they are working very hard to get into our school systems. in cobb county georgia they already made it mandetory to stamp into every biolgy book that evolution is a theory and that it in know way should be held as fact. not only that but they also made it mandetory that intelligent design be taught along side evolution. oh yeah intelligent design is the belief that the world was created in 7 days by a supernatural force. thats not science thats christians reunionizing church and state. they are a cult and they need to be stopped. theres no doubt in my mind that in this election there will be more people voting then ever before. people like me that can see through all the crap thats going on in this country. religion starts out in a good way i guess love thy neighbor and all that crap but it just leads to fascism and murder. they want to send our non violent drug offenders away for longer than murders and rapists and why is that? maybe because they are largly funded by pharmeceutical companys who would rather you buy their drugs. like oxycontin for example. i know recently theres been a huge rise in heroin use like lets say before the war in afghanistan the worlds largest supplier of heroin btw well they were but not since we’ve been there. oxycontin is synthetic heroin that is one molecule away from being pure heroin. i wonder what company makes that? oh yeah its purdue well i wonder who owns that? lets see oh yeah its dupont the governments largest paid weapons and everything else subsidiary. oh yeah they are republican too. well thats no surprise if they make bombs and weapondry. drugs are the biggest money maker in this country then oil so its no surprise that they have their hand in it. the last time heroin was this big we went to vietnam where they were the worlds largest heroin producer. sadam hussein was a bad guy but there are dictators out there that are ten times worse the only difference is they dont have oil. haliburton is the oil cleaning company given billions opon billions of dollars to go clean up iraq’s oil fields. oh yeah they are republican too. so why are we sending our soldiers to die in iraq if iraq wasnt going to attack us and have no ties what so ever to osama bin laden. to make republicans more money so they can control the world through money power and religion. i know it was right to go kill the taliban for attacking our towers but bush used that as an opportunity to take on iraq and thats the sole difference between kerry and bush we wouldnt have gone to iraq. im sorry thats just too big a mistake for me to overlook one that we are still dying for.