Leaving the Viewer Hanging
Lately I have been watching a lot of Netflix Instant Watch television shows instead of regular television. When starting these shows I mostly go by the "recommended for you" titles and I check to see how many seasons of the show is available for me to watch. The reason I check this now is because I have previously invested so much time in network shows that eventually get cancelled mid season or storyline, at least this way I have control over what I am investing my time in. I have watched a lot of good shows over the years that have gone by the wayside. When I research them online the pattern is very apparent. Cancelled by the network aka "not renewed".
My question is, how can the networks do this to us time and time again? Shows that have 6 million plus viewers just disappear overnight with no end to the plot line and no closure for the millions of people who paid for that networks CEO's massages and tea parties with every single view. I find it incredibly unfair. I find it repulsive that these networks do not care about us as viewers. They only care for profit. Leaving shows mid climax is terribly unfair to those of us who invest our time in these story lines. A good author would not leave a book without an ending, and one that tried to pass a book without an ending would get laughed right out of the editors office. Yet that is exactly what these networks do to us all the time.
There should be some type of requirement, you start something...you finish it. If they want to cancel shows, fine. At least cancel them at a point that leaves the viewer with some closure. I suppose the first example of this I remember even though I was quite young when the show first aired was "My So-Called Life". The viewership of that show was in the 6 million plus range in the beginning of the 90's. Even considered a small number back in those days. There were rumors that the lead actress Claire Danes had a hand in the demise of the show, however I believe that her reluctance to continue with such a harsh (15 hour a day) schedule at her age, was rightful. The network could have been responsible to the viewers and closed out the storyline with a 2nd season by adjusting the schedule for the younger cast and airing the shows on a non-prime airtime, but they didn't. They never do. Instead we see the girl we have watched grow for a year, get into the car with the boy she has been in love with the entire show, who has played many games with her head before and once again finding out he lied to her. They drive off into the night and we never know, does she bring up the letter that Brian wrote that Jordan passed off as his own? Does she let it go for love because the boy can't read or write well? Does Brian ever find love in his youth, does he ever get over Angela? These questions still plague me and I watched that show as a youth. The characters were very formative for me, yet I was left in the dark wondering (still wondering) where that story could have taken us. I still watch the first season sometimes and the last episode chaps my...every single time.
The worst example of this type that I can think of is the show "Missing" (also known as 1-800-Missing). The show ran for 3 seasons and although it was inconsistent in some ways, it was a terribly good show. If you have not seen this show, or have not seen all episodes I suggest you skip the last portion of this article as it contains some spoilers.
One of my favorite types of shows involving the FBI and mysteries, and throwing in one of my other favorite things a psychic. The first season is fantastic, featuring Gloria Reuben as Agent Haslett. She teams up with a younger woman with a newly gained power to dream about the missing and how to find them. Gloria Reuben not only acted in this season but was a major player in the production even singing the vocals on the title track "This dream is real, take a look around you the truth will be revealed". It gave the show a haunted type of feeling, which is what you would feel if you were searching for someone who is missing. You know they are alive, and you need to save them. The young Psychic is played by Caterina Scorsone and she does a fantastic job. The chemistry between her character and "Jack" the FBI agent is hot, hot, hot!! Unfortunately the season ends with Gloria Reubens character telling her team she will be leaving to take a higher position.
We find ourselves in Season 2 and they have dropped the 1-800 Missing title, added a whole new title track that tried to give the series a more "cool" feel I would say...and where Jess (the psychic) has been training for a real FBI position instead of just being a team consultant as she was in the first season. That is where Season 2 beings to really fall short. We are introduced to Agent Scott played by Vivica A. Fox. This season is worth following although some of it comes off as sort of cheesy. They tried really hard to pick up where Gloria Reuben left off. I have tried to research why she completely disappears even from the production side, my guess is they needed to "amp" up the show with a more well known actress as the viewing numbers were again "just not there" for the network. Noticeably missing from this season were the dreams, instead her visions become waking visions and she is more shocked and I would say scattered by them. We are also missing almost all of the characters that made season 1 great....Jack, Sunny, etc. However the choice to replace Dean McDermott with Justin Louis was super smart. Justin Louis (aka Louis Ferreira or Luis Ferreira) made the second season bearable and the third just simply awesome, his character is fantasicly written and expertly portrayed. You may think I'm babbling on about a favorite show, but bear with me...you will understand in a moment why I have explained so much.
When we come to Season 3, everything picks back up again. We fall in love with all the characters back to front. The episodes are great and the storyline keeps you coming back for more and more. Suddenly the last 3 episodes begin to really excite, we are re-introduced to "Jack" thankfully played by the same actor and the chemistry picks right back up where it was. We have love interests between Agent Scott and Antonio the super hot evidence analyst which has been on again/off again the entire season, and you find they really love each other. The FBI Director (Justin Louis) overcomes some great battles in this season and we are just seeing him recover when in the last episode everything goes very wrong. VERY wrong. At the very last minute after Agent Scott saves Antonio's life from this crazed stalker. Everyone pulls away in their own cars, Jess and Jack included and we are left with Agent Scott and Antonio who get over their angst and profess their love for one another. Antonio then gets into his car and is blown up by a bomb planted by the stalker, who obviously made sure he would get Antonio one way or the other. We are left with a horrified Agent Scott screaming his name, the picture stills on her contorted face and you can see the flames reflecting in her eyes. THAT IS WHERE THEY LEAVE US. They cancelled the show after Season 3. There is so much more that was going on in that story line that needed to be carried out.
I think the networks have a responsibility to the viewers. I can understand cancelling a show, but they should have a closing requirement. Decide to cancel a show fine, but give us a closing season. I don't think Lifetime would have lost that much money on doing a Season 4 of missing. In fact I am able to run the show instantly on Netflix so I assume even to this day they are making royalties on the show. My point to the networks and the writers is that they have a responsibility to us as a viewer, we contribute to every paycheck that is written. We are the ones that view the ads and commercials that give the ratings. We deserve to not be left hanging.
Incredibly this is what is quoted on the series Wiki page. "The series finale aired on February 5, 2006 alongside the show's partner Strong Medicine and, in April 2006, word reached the public that Missing had been canceled after a successful three-year, 56-episode run. Lifetime said the show had "run it's course".
The executives wonder why more people are turning to alternate sources of entertainment. Well I'd say it has a lot to do with leaving us viewers hanging. There are so many other shows I can list here, but there is really no point. Will they ever care about the viewers? Probably not. The End.