HOW DO YOU SAVE A TV SHOW?
Ugh. There was a time when TV shows really got a long run to prove themselves before the networks decided whether to yank them off the air. When I was a little kid, I was aware of shows that were deemed complete failures, like the Dukes Of Hazzard spin-off Enos and the Three’s Company spin-off The Ropers. (Yes, I am old. But still well within the coveted 18-49 demographic, so there.) At the time, I remember hearing about those shows being total ratings disasters, and yet they were allowed to make it to 22 episodes and 28 episodes, respectively.
Likewise, the big hits of the 80s and 90s, Cheers and Seinfeld, were both low-rated in their early seasons, but were given time to find an audience.
We live in a different reality now, obviously.
Everybody’s heard the news about Best Friends Forever being yanked from the NBC schedule until perhaps this summer. And It’s easy to assume the worst— anyone who is a fan of quality television shows has had their heart broken more than a few times over the years, and we’ve all seen a lot of “save our show” campaigns end in disappointment.
Petitions and twitter campaigns are one modern tool at our disposal. You can also send “scoops” to NBC, certainly. I’d imagine that fans are developing all sorts of ways of getting NBC’s attention to let them know that there is a passionate audience out there that wants to see more of this show.
I have one suggestion, for anyone who’s interested. First, two examples of shows that met very different fates:
CASE #1: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
I was one of the frantic ones while this show was in peril, and I was practically apoplectic at what I perceived to be FOX’s non-existent efforts to grow the show’s audience. (Before anyone tries the knee-jerk “FOX gave it three seasons” argument, it has been documented by NYTimes TV writer Bill Carter that Rupert Murdoch personally hated the show, and it was therefore not in the best interest of anyone at FOX to help the show do better. It was too critically beloved to cancel it quickly, so they let it die on the vine instead. Case closed.)
One of the specific things that most frustrated me was that Arrested Development was not available to purchase on iTunes. The fans were begging for ways to show their support, and for ways to demonstrate that the Nielsen ratings didn’t tell the full story. Meanwhile, the #1 show on iTunes was…
CASE #2: THE OFFICE (U.S.A. version)
The Office was not a hit at first, not by a long shot. The ratings weren’t that good for the brief first season, and a big part of the reason that they finally got a full order for a second season was that NBC put the show on iTunes, where it did great. It was easily the most popular show, almost instantly, occupying 17 slots of the iTunes Top 100 downloads. Now, years later, it’s one of NBC’s top rated shows.
This is a long rambling way of saying: one thing you can do to help save Best Friends Forever, if you are so inclined, is to buy a season pass on iTunes. It’s like 13 bucks for the whole first season, which is basically the same price as if you were to individually buy the 4 episodes they have for sale individually.
It might sound like a dumb idea— after all, if you like the show, you’ve presumably seen the 4 episodes that are already up, and they’re available for free on the NBC website or hulu. The idea of paying money for TV shows that are available for free already is ridiculous. I feel dumb typing this.
BUT: it is one way of showing support for the show, and it’s basically like paying for a movie ticket (if you live in a big city where movies are crazy expensive) or a pizza or some other thing that costs as much as a pizza. And if the goal is to convince NBC that there is a devoted audience that wants this show on the air, then maybe BFF selling a lot of iTunes downloads is one way to get their attention. It’s like voting with your dollars to say “keep making more of these, please. Here is some of my money!”
I know if FOX had put Arrested Development episodes for sale on iTunes back when it was on the bubble, I would have happily bought them all if I though it had even a small chance of saving the show. It worked for The Office. Maybe it can in some small way contribute to keeping BFF on the air long enough for more people to discover it…