Zap2it: ‘Roswell’ Still Kicking On UPN

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‘Roswell’ Still Kicking On UPN
Tue, Nov 20, 2001 08:39 PM PDT

by Vanessa Sibbald, TV News

It’s not often that a show celebrates its fans, but “Roswell” probably owes the fact that UPN picked it up after being canceled by The WB to pure fan loyalty and dedication to the show.

“I do believe that the fans have more to do with the show being on the air than the networks will even admit to,” agrees the sci fi series’ executive producer, Jason Katims.

So, that’s why UPN, Katims and the show’s leading cast members threw a party recently to help give something back. The network gave 23 fans of the series a chance to visit the show’s set and attend an all-star party featuring a performance by the band Remy Zero, via a nationwide radio and Internet contest.

Not only did all of the show’s main stars attend, including Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Shiri Appleby, Katherine Heigl and Majandra Delfino, but they graciously spent most of the evening signing autographs and taking pictures with the teary-eyed teen fans.

“Roswell” has a “tremendous, tremendous group of fans and that has meant an incredible amount to me,” adds Katims. “It started in the first season, when we came on the air [and] we were struggling a little bit.”

In fact, the show’s main characteristic appears to be its ability to endure struggling.

“This has been the story of this show from the very beginning. It has been on the bubble from the day it was born,” agrees Katims. “It was developed for FOX, wound up moving to The WB, then at the end of the first year there was that whole Tabasco campaign to keep the show alive and at the end of the second year we died. And, just like an alien, it was brought back to life after death. And here we are and we’re still fighting.”

“This is a show that wants to live.”

Since moving to UPN, “Roswell” has continued to struggle. While it now has a great lead-in from fellow refugee “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and more promotion from UPN than they had at The WB, its ratings continue to be low. So far this season, the show has averaged a 1.4 rating/3 share among adults 18-49 and 3.2 million total viewers, while for the same amount of weeks, “Buffy” has pulled a 2.7/7 and 5.6 million viewers.

“The numbers I think, have been a little disappointing to me — I was hoping to do a little better,” admits Katims. “‘Buffy’ is a tremendous lead-in and I was hoping to hold a little bit more, but I can’t think of a tougher timeslot. So, I wish we were doing a little bit better, but time will tell.”

The competition he mentions during the 9 p.m. hour is indeed heavy, with “Roswell” competing with NBC’s hit comedies “Frasier” and “Scrubs,” FOX’s “24,” ABC’s established drama “NYPD Blue,” CBS’ “Guardian” and The WB’s teen hit “Smallville.”

Hoping to draw more viewers, Katims and the show’s writing staff, have come up with some big new story lines — involving Maria (Delfino) realizing that Michael (Fehr) may not be a good boyfriend for her.

“We did a really moving episode coming up with Maria examining two things: Maria and Michael’s relationship when an old boyfriend of hers from band camp comes to town; and also Maria realizing she’s lost that music side of herself and how much she’s given up,” says Katims.

Also in trouble are the relationships between Liz (Appleby) and Max (Behr).

“Liz starts to realize she’s literally changing and she doesn’t know why. Something is happening to her, something alien and she thinks it’s from the fact that Max healed her and it’s making her change. So she starts to also reconsider everything that’s gone on,” the executive producer teases.

Adding to Liz and Max’s problems, the show’s writers are toying with the idea of bringing back Tess (Emilie de Ravin).

“We don’t know yet. We definitely have that as one of the possibilities of what we may do, we’re definitely considering that.”

Not to leave out Isabel (Heigl) and Jesse (Adam Rodriguez), who just tied the knot last week (Nov. 13), Katims says they’ll also be facing some big issues this January — but in a humorous way.

“We examine the marriage between Isabel and Jessie, the alien and the human. We go between two realities; one is the reality of the show as Isabel tries to hide being an alien from Jesse, and then we go to the ’60s sitcom version. The ‘Bewitched’ version of it — where Katie Heigl and everyone else in the cast play as if they’re in a ’60s sitcom playing themselves. In that reality, Jesse knows that she’s an alien.”

But what Katims is most excited about this year, is the way the characters have become more accessible.

“What I like about what we’re doing this year, and what I’m very proud of, is that all of the episodes are grounded emotionally and that they have some way for us in the audience to connect to them,” he says.

“These are stories about people trying to make a life for themselves. To me, that is where the show is at its strongest.”

“Roswell” airs Tuesdays on UPN at 9 p.m.