Zap2It: ‘Roswell’ Faces Departure

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‘Roswell’ Faces Departure
Tue, May 8, 2001 04:06 PM US/Central

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it) – With the finale of “Roswell’s” second season on the horizon, the teen science fiction show is once again finding itself on the brink of cancellation. Although it has a loyal following, it’s fairly small, averaging about 4 million total viewers per episode.

Last year, fans organized a Tabasco campaign to save the show, sending in over 6,000 bottles of the spicy sauce, and were credited for saving the series. This year the Tabasco is being sent to UPN.

Following UPN’s shelling out the money to steal “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” away from The WB, the network has become the place for fans looking for a second (or in this case, third) chance to go. Not that they have completely given up on its renewal at The WB — six boxes of letters have already arrived asking that it be saved, again, from cancellation.

Jason Katims, “Roswell’s” co-creator and executive producer, says he wouldn’t rule out the show moving to UPN, but “it’s too early know whether that’s a real possibility yet. We now know, because of ‘Buffy,’ that those kind of things are possible.”

Not that the “Buffy” move was a good thing for his show, which is also produced by Twentieth Century Fox, despite The WB’s need to make sure that its lineup doesn’t completely crumble.

“The fact that [‘Buffy’] went to UPN could negatively affect the way The WB looks at ‘Roswell,'” he says. “It was hard to predict what was going to happen to ‘Roswell’ before the ‘Buffy’ move, it’s even harder to predict now. I’ll just have to wait and see.”

ence fiction elements to drive the story,” says Katims. “That’s why I’m really excited about this final group of episodes, because they are very driven by boFellow executive producer Ronald D. Moore agrees.

“All we know is that we don’t know,” he says, reminding one of “The X-Files” proverb “The truth is out there.” “The ratings for the last two shows were good; we came back pretty strong.”

“Taking us off the air for six weeks was definitely not a good sign,” Moore adds, referring to the show’s six-week hiatus off The WB schedule, while the network shored up new show “Gilmore Girls” with repeat airings. “There was no way to spin that in our heads as a positive thing, so we knew that was a bad omen of things to come.”

Moore says he’s heard the rumor that UPN is interested in the show, but “it’s nothing we’ve heard from anybody real,” he says. As to whether fans of the show would mind the move, both he and Katims sound confident that fans would follow the series, wherever it ends up.

“I think our fans would go anywhere to see the show,” says Katims, adding, “They get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles to go to a party for ‘Roswell,’ so they’ll definitely be able to change the channel.”

Until Then …

Given the uncertain fate of the show makes writing the second season finale all the harder. The episode, titled “The Departure,” deals with the mystery behind “Roswell” regular Alex’s (Colin Hanks) death. The plot line came to the writers after they decided to write Hanks off the series.

“Colin never asked to leave the show or wanted to,” explains Katims. “Basically, what happened was that he was offered [the lead in] a pretty big movie. When he got that offer, I felt responsible to say whether I was going to really put him into the center of the show or to let him go. We decided the best thing was to let him go.”

“For some reason, Alex’s character, while I love him, was very challenging for the writers to work into the story line. He always seemed to be a little bit on the periphery of things.”

Katims believes Alex’s death enriches the show by “increasing the dramatic stakes of the series.”

“Until this happened with Alex, there was always this sense of safety,” he explains. “With Alex’s death this is taken away and it takes the show to another level.”

“Departure” promises to be a big blowout, with the possibility of the teenage aliens (played by Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fehr and Emilie de Ravin) returning to their extraterrestrial roots.

“What I can say is that Alex’s death sends all the characters on different journeys,” says Katims. “We made a conscious decision in these episodes to keep them more driven by our core group of characters and not bring in outside characters in a major way — the way we did earlier with the skins and with Nicholas, for example.”

For those who have been following the show closely, this is a departure from the beginning of this season when producers were saying they planned to focus more on the science fiction element on the show and less on the romantic ties between the teens.

“I’ve always felt that the strongest episodes that we’ve done are episodes that have merged the two things — episodes that have a strong emotional spine but use the science fiction elements to drive the story,” says Katims. “That’s why I’m really excited about this final group of episodes, because they are very driven by both things. It’s about losing a friend, that loss dividing a group of people into two groups. It’s also about the search for what really happened to Alex, which brings you back, very strongly, into science fiction territory.”

While Katims wrote the episode with a cliffhanger, he says it will also be a satisfying end to the season, if not the series.

“It’s not like it’s a cliffhanger where you’re going to be angry at me for having written it,” he says. “But I could be wrong.”

“Roswell’s” season ends on Monday, May 21. The WB is expected to announce its decision regarding the show’s renewal at its upfront presentation, when it announced its fall lineup to advertisers, on May 15.

— Kate O’Hare contributed to this story