Sending Out an SOS – Roswell Mentioned

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

Sending Out an SOS

“Roswell,” the WB series about three teenage aliens in a New Mexico high school, seemed destined to be canceled but was saved. And it had nothing to do with the more than 3,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce that poured into Burbank.

(The sauce is the aliens’ substance of choice to abuse.) What makes one SOS (Save Our Show) campaign effective and the other roadkill on the information superhighway? SOS campaigns today are a virtual industry; they come and go like dot-com start-ups. They are almost as predictable already as the rest of TV.

And I’m not against campaigns. I’ve started several myself. My campaign to save “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was a triumph. It’s good therapy. It gives frustrated, angry fans a way to vent their spleens.

[…] Networks aren’t really impressed by the number of e-mails. It isn’t as if there is a Rubicon to cross: Network brainiacs don’t say, “That’s it. We got 21,000 letters, and the show is saved,” or “Only 19,995? That’s it. The show is dead meat.” The suits tend to save a show if there’s something in it for them. And it’s not the fun of reading your e-mail, admiring the intelligence and wit of the correspondence. No, usually it’s something more tangible.

[…] No matter how many TV sets are mailed in by fans of “La Femme Nikita” or audio cassettes by “Felicity” partisans, it’s all irrelevant.

“Roswell,” for example, survived for another reason. WB is in a death spiral and needs a link to its teen audience. It wants WB to stand for, as Joy D. Simpson of Cold Spring Harbor explained, “the Weird Business network.” The bottom line is e-mail campaigns are not the answer.

[…] The answer perhaps is not to get too involved. “We’re afraid of commitment,” Tara Wisely of Saint James said about her family’s reaction to “Sports Night” the first night it aired. “Is the Drew Carey fan really going to get this show?” Maybe the best solution is not to have any favorites. Then the suits can’t torment you with their stupid decisions.