Thanks to Janet for sending this in! It comes from the UK publication, the Observer!
Hot under the collar: Angry fans hit the sauceto save alien teen drama
Copyright (C) 2000; Source: World Reporter (TM)
Sometime in March, executives at the WB network in LA started getting bottles of Tabasco sauce in their post.
No doubt they were confused for a couple of minutes, but the alternately pleading and outraged letters that came with the bottles explained it all.
It was campaign by fans of the alien teen drama Roswell (shown here on Sky One as Roswell High ) who had heard rumours that the show wasn’t going to return in the Autumn. Oh, and the Tabasco? That’s the aliens’ chosen nutrition in the show.
Until the sauce outbreak, Roswell seemed pretty unremarkable. It’s a simple genre hybrid of teen angst plus sci-fi, about three (TV typically) shiny toothed teenagers in Roswell , New Mexico who happen to be aliens.
And thus are – as someone must have cracked up the pitch meetings by saying – even more alienated than your standard adolescent. As such, it was a natural for the WB , home of Buffy and Dawson’s Creek
Then the rumours started, and those zealous fans stepped in.
The template is Party Of Five, a particularly lachrymose teen drama starring Neve Campbell that was kept alive by fan will alone for an extraordinary six seasons. What’s unsettling about the Roswell
campaign is quite how well organised it is.
At the Crashdown.com you get the names and job titles of all the top WB movers, plus advice on how to pressure sponsors and the media. Better yet, the Roswell fans have rumbled the TV industry’s biggest myth: the ratings system. Those ‘millions’ of viewers are calculated from a sample of just 5,000 – that’s for the whole of the US-families. Essentially, the networks are just guessing how many people are watching. Which means if the head of programming gets 6,000 bottles of Tabasco and 22,000 emails, that’s as decent proof as he’s ever going to get that someone’s watching the show. So when Roswell ‘s executive producer wrote to the fans to say thank you, he wasn’t just
being polite. They really had saved his job.