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What Kind of Mickey Mouse Company ...

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 9, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | December 9, 2009 |

Both “V” and “FlashForward” are now on extended hiatus until March and are expected to undergo retooling in order to try to claw back some ratings numbers. Frustrated by sinking numbers, ABC has put its foot down and cut its orders by one episode for each show.

Wow, real scorched earth policy there guys. If you go out for lunch, and the waiter dumps the flambé on your head before lighting it on fire, do you send him a very stern note when you wake up in the burn unit, along with an appropriate fifteen percent gratuity? I guess you do at ABC. What’s Joss got to do to get a show on this network?

I know that we heap criticism on the networks for not giving slow starting shows enough time to build an audience, so this might seem to be slightly hypocritical criticism, but really this is exactly the wrong approach to take. Giving a show time only counts if it’s time that the show is actually on the air. Retooling, waiting and seeing, juggling creative staff, these moves are leading to one place: the shows come back in four months and see an even steeper drop in ratings. The three-fourths of the population that don’t troll through TV news blogs think “I thought that was canceled” and then keep flipping channels. Those who do pay attention to TV news but don’t already watch “V” and “FastForward” won’t bother to watch because they’ll assume that the shows must really suck if ABC yanked them for all that time. And the sorry bastards who love the two shows will be incensed at having to wait through that ludicrous gap in addition to their white hot anger at the network screwing with something they liked just fine the way it was.

This latest bit of news just reinforces the doubt that anyone upstairs at ABC knows what they’re doing. If the shows manage to come back strong, ABC’s going to want that extra episode to air. If they don’t, they’ll probably end up yanking the shows from the air half-unaired anyway. All this bit of news does is reinforce to viewers who pay attention that these shows aren’t worth bothering to check out when they come back.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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