It appears that today, the-powers-that-be in the television industry have such small attention spans they can’t always guarantee to produce more than two seasons of a show. Of course, I know all about the Nielsen boxes in America, the viewer ratings and how they govern which shows continue and which shows die into obscurity. But these days, it appears to be more than just ratings which are affecting shows. Perhaps they just want to make everything and so only allow a short run for each show, or maybe they just expect too much from fans and viewers.
In any case, that a show is cancelled is not the issue which annoys me, it’s that a show is ended before the story ends. Now, how hard would it be for producers to say “Hey, I love your idea for a tv show, but I can’t give you five seasons to create it. I can give you two? Maybe three? But you need to end the story arc within that time.”
Equally as easy is letting the show creators know when their work is under review for axing. Not waiting until months after the season ends on a cliffhanger or an unfinished story line. Like this: “Hey guys, the show ratings have dropped, you have the rest of this season to wrap up the story, otherwise the show will be canned without an ending.”
Or maybe the show creators are just too blind and love their work so much they don’t think it will ever be axed. Because of this, they might not think to wrap a story arc up in a timely fashion and so their show is axed without any real satisfactory ending. SyFy is particularly guilty of axing shows before their time, to the point I just can’t and won’t invest myself in anything before it is ended or cancelled. I wait for the end then watch on catch-up. Perhaps by doing this I’m contributing to the likelihood of a show being cancelled. But when I invest in a show, I invest in it hard. I don’t want to fall in love with characters and get to the end of the show to find out it was never finished. That’s like reading a book which final pages have been ripped out!
As a fan, the cancelling of a show is awful and something I’ve seen too many times before. Stargate Atlantis was axed at the end of its fifth season. A good run, yes, but without an ending. Firefly, such a short run and axed way before its time. Defiance, three season run was good, and thankfully, the writers had the foresight to have an ending in place for the third series which gave a somewhat good ending to the show. Constantine, wow, what were they thinking cancelling it?! Dominion, cancelled at the end of season two and on the MOTHER of all cliffhangers!
These days shows are lucky to make it past the starting point before they are replaced. I see so many shows being made and advertised, only to wonder what the hell happened to them a few weeks or months later. SyFy makes and funds so much rubbish viewing material, the expense of which could be used to maintain the shows that people actually love. I mean, I would watch and support SyFy every DAY if “Attack of the Tentacled-Shark-terrasaur in Manhattan” were not on the channel or books. I would avidly commit myself to their shows if they pulled the money from “Square-Faced-Squid Attacks Downtown New York with a Pillow” and put it into actually finishing story arcs. Even if they said to the creators “Guys, we are pulling the show. But, you have the funding for three eps to finish up,” I would make sure the channel was in my faves menu!
But no. These days I don’t find myself getting excited over new shows. I see them advertised and the first thing I think is; “Looks good, but it will get canned in a few weeks. So…nope.”
I don’t pretend to know how the ins-and-outs of tv production works, but from a viewers standpoint, surely finishing a tale and show properly is more important to future business than axing and producing as many as possible?
So I guess I should speak about the show which cancellation I am currently feeling sore over: Dominion. Yes I have mentioned it before, but I just did a complete re-watch of it and am all hurt over its ending again. Dominion sadly ended on the build up to the most epic of story arcs. It ended on the mother of all cliffhangers and it promised that season three would be spectacular. It ended way too soon. There was no closure. We have no idea what happened to the majority of the characters. It just ended, another ruined story to place on a shelf of books with ripped out final chapters.
Dominion was not your everyday sci-fi/fantasy show. Sure there was apocalyptic undertones, angels and human suffering, but Dominion was more than your average run-of-the-mill goodies-fight-baddies story. Dominion was different enough to grab my attention and pulled me into watching it live for the first season-something I haven’t done since Atlantis was cancelled.
Dominion follows on from the 2010 movie; Legion, starring Paul Bettany as the Archangel Michael. Now, Legion wasn’t a huge hit, but I really enjoyed it. God has disappeared and the angels are so angry, blaming humans for their father’s disappearance that they wreak havoc on the earth and slay humans without mercy in revenge. Mankind’s only saviour will be a chosen one, an unborn baby boy whose mother is holed up in a diner as the angels attack. Michael knows the child she is carrying is the Chosen One and protects her and her partner at all costs.
Dominion is set twenty-five years later, in a world far different from the movie. The world is overrun with angels who take over human bodies and kill indiscriminately to the point that the last of humanity is holed up in walled cities. One such city-Vega-is where the Chosen one, Alex, is grown up and playing soldier. The Archangel Michael protects Vega and watches over Alex as other angels -namely the Archangel Gabriel and his minions- try to destroy the rest of humanity in an attempt to wipe the earth of humans and bring their father back.
The thing I loved about Dominion was the stories within many varied stories, tales interwoven into one solid and compelling show. There was the story of the angels, their reasoning and why they fought so hard to bring God back. The story of Michael and his transition from a slayer of worlds to a protector of humanity. There was the story of Vega, how it was built and why. The story of its citizens, and their role in Vega. There was the story of the Chosen one, Alex, and the strange tattoos upon his body which were said to contain the key to saving the human race. Okay, many shows have lots of stories, but usually each bit-story is episodic in nature. With Dominion, all the stories were the main story, all of them contributed to the entire show and all were important. The storylines were thought provoking, endearing, awful, heartbreaking, scary and deceitful, so there was plenty to enjoy throughout the show.
The actors were strong, with the lovely Tom Wisdom playing Michael and well known sci-fi and fantasy actor Anthony Head playing a lead role in Vega. Alan Dale played the general of Vega, Carl Beukes the Archangel Gabriel. Roxanne McKee and Shivani Ghai took the lead female parts, with the lovely Kim Engelbrecht playing a higher angel hidden in Vega. It was a strong cast, and each actor played great roles and played them well.
The show looked good, with opulent sets and well detailed scenes. The special effects were of a great standard, I don’t suppose it’s easy animating wings like the did. Fight scenes were well choreographed and convincing.
The first season set the scene and back story. The second season was fantastic, building on the original narrative and further delving into the mythical tale. It ramped up the storylines, I began to crave what was going to happen next. A big player was about to enter the fight, and I mean a HUGE player. It was a game changer, it would have thrown a third series into a frenzy.
Then it ended.
It was clear the writers had no idea it was going to be axed; I doubt they would have left it the way they did had they known. This is the thing that bothers me the most about cancelled shows. They never get to the chance to end the tale and fans are left wishing for closure. Why creative teams can’t be given set episodes to finish up is beyond me. It seems that tv producers just jump from one show to another in a never ending cycle of broken stories. It would make more sense to bring a conclusion and allow for such a conclusion to be discussed prior to just axing a show.
I know it’s never going to happen. I know that there are many who do not understand what it is to be a fan and how frustrating this cancelling of shows can feel. I just think more thought would be put into–not only the creative team’s hard work and need to finish–but to the fans who take these tv shows and fall in love with them and the characters. We made the big corporations with our loyalty and money, our time and energy. If it wasn’t for the viewers and fans, they wouldn’t even have a product to make money from!
As I say, I am reluctant to give any new show a chance these days. My heart has been broken way too many times to count and I won’t keep falling for this show-and-destroy type of broadcasting. For most of these shows, the time has gone. Sets have been broken up and actors are working on different things. Is it too late to save Dominion by getting the likes of Netflix to perhaps pick it up? Maybe. But I hope not.
No matter if you watched Dominion or not, like the idea or not or just think I am plain crazy for wanting something so bad, please, sign this petition and share it to everyone you know. Share it with everyone and get them to sign it and share it too. Even if you have to say this crazy woman from Scotland told you to do it! Help make one of my fave shows get a proper ending!
I can but dream….
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE