|Can You Tweet a TV Show Back to Life?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
The soothsayers at FOX yesterday announced the abrupt cancellation of five of its shows — some no one watched (e.g. "Traffic Light," "Human Target," and "Breaking In") and others many [that I know] watched (e.g. "Lie to Me" and "Chicago Code").
Professionally, I understand Nielsen is a living creature that eats up anything slow enough to get in its path. Personally, the hell is that?!
Are we forcing networks to think the only successful show is one that gets "Idol" rankings? That's ridiculous if that's the case, but then again, if you follow the FOX plan for success, if you can't sing on the show, make it a cartoon. Full disclosure: I will watch anything with Delroy Lindo. From "West Indian Archie" to "Bonafide," "Satchel Paige" to "Woody Carmichael." Apparently, I'm not the president of his fan club either, as Twitter blew up at report of the news.
Which got me thinking, "Can you tweet a TV show back to life?"
It's been reported in the news before that if enough people focus their vitriol and angst in one direction, TV major domos pay attention...and pay for another season.
Remember "Friday Night Lights"? It was "critically acclaimed," which is code for "great writing but people would rather be playing 'Words with Friends' at this time." There was enough of a gaggle that an online petition was formed, sent to NBC, and saved the show. At least until said lights went out on prime time. It's being seen on DirecTV, indirectly.
What about "Jericho"? This was CBS' post-apocalyptic series that was cancelled before its viewers got their happy ending. To wit, people living in their mother's basement called each other on the rotary phones and united... in the form of 25 tons of peanuts. The show was saved, but the radiation eventually killed it too.
And then, there's "Chuck." The show earned a third season because of a sponsorship deal with Subway, of all things. Fresh, ain't it?
What gave these Twitter campaigns life?
You guessed it... the media. Each of these were fascinating stories and TV critics flocked to it like a crackhead to a tube television in the garbage. If these stories didn't build up a nice head of steam, no one would have noticed the ballyhoo, petitions, or prack phone calls. However, that didn't happen. The media grabbed the stories, which made national headlines, which pressured TV execs, which resurrected life back into its limp ratings.
It's failed before (NOTE: See "Arrested Development"), but the news didn't get ahold of that campaign until the show won all its Emmys. By that time, the page was turned and folk were looking for another show to fill its spot.
So, does Twitter save failed TV shows? Yes and no. Get enough people talking, it will make a noise. Give those people a national audience through a big TV network, and they have the megaphone they need. Then again, if Delroy Lindo had a Twitter handle, I wouldn't be blogging about the media's strong arm right now. I would just DM the man and get it off my conscience.
Ah well, back to Netflix, where I can catch "Cider House Rules," "Up," and oh, I don't know..."Broken Arrow"?
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood