May 18 2012 11:00am

Does the Renewal of Fringe Mark a Turning Point for Sci-Fi TV?

I want to talk about endings, specifically the final episodes of TV shows. Endings are tough.

There’s just so much that go wrong. A single mention of the final episode of Battlestar Galactica (00s version) still sends me into a HULKRAGE; the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise left a very bad taste in the mouth; and the final Lost episode was, well, um… what exactly was that? All that time and effort, not to mention emotion, invested in something that just leaves you feeling a bit conned, a bit stupid, a little bit dirty.

And even when things don’t go completely down the toilet, final episodes can still be a bit underwhelming, leaving you deflated and nursing a big sense of “so what?” — yes, I’m looking at you Alias, you too, West Wing… and X-Files, stop hiding in the corner, we all know you’re there with the big dunce’s cap on.

Watching a great TV show hit the home stretch is like watching a gymnastic routine so stunning that the closer it gets to the end the more excruciating an error would be, and you start watching through your fingers, praying they nail the landing.

When a good, or even better a great final episode caps a show you love there’s a sense of completion and satisfaction that’s hard to beat.

For my money the most entirely perfect TV finale ever was the 90 minute ending of The Shield, about which I could wax lyrical for ages, but for my money Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ST:TNG, and Babylon 5 all nailed the landing too, as did Moonlighting and Due South.

But worse, far worse than a bad or indifferent ending is the never-ending cliffhanger. I don’t mean the finale where the hero kind of loses and which some fans petulantly refuse to accept as an ending — Sapphire and Steel, Blakes’s’ Seven, Quantum Leap — I mean the show that gets cancelled mid-run.

I sat down earlier today and made a list of all the shows I followed religiously that got canned without resolution. In no particular order:

  • Space: Above and Beyond
  • Strange Luck
  • VR-5
  • Earth 2
  • American Gothic
  • Crusade (more of a mercy killing)
  • The Dead Zone (ditto)
  • Odyssey 5
  • Firefly (IT STILL HURTS!)
  • Twin Peaks (although it kind of worked as an ending)
  • Nowhere Man (ditto)
  • The 4400 (ditto)
  • Stargate: Universe (ditto)
  • Carnivale
  • Good Vs Evil
  • Farscape (thanks heavens for PK Wars)
  • Survivors (00s version)
  • The Fades

I’m sure I’ve missed a fair few, but that is one hell of a lot of disappointment for one man to take. I’m sure you all have your own lists of shows that left you hanging.

Over time, this endless grief forced a change of behaviour. At some point I stopped watching new series. I refused to jump on board a new show until it at least limped past five episodes and had started to get good buzz.

When even that wasn’t enough to weed out the soon-to-be-culled I stopped watching shows until they got a second season, upon which I’d go back and catch up. But still some disappointments caught me out.

My father, who is not a sci-fi fan by any means, but who had learned to live with endless bitter disappointment in other areas of his life (he’s a Birmingham City fan!) for some strange reason got hooked on Invasion. When he found he had been left on a cliffhanger by a cancelled show, he simply failed to grasp that this could happen. He was briefly engulfed with uncomprehending fury.

I, world weary veteran of many cancellation campaigns, merely shrugged and said “that’s war, Pops” or words to that effect.

Proof that my father is a smarter man than I will ever be came recently when, having learned the lesson after one cancellation (as the list above attests, it took me LOADS before I wised up!), called me to ask whether Homeland was worth watching. He wouldn’t bother, he told me, if it was going to leave him hanging.

Now just pause and think about what just happened. Here was a viewer who was interested in watching a TV show but who felt screwed over by a previous cancellation so, eventually, didn’t bother.

And who can blame him?

In the end it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — if enough once-bitten people don’t watch new shows until they know they’re going to be a success, it makes it harder and harder for new shows to become a success in the first place, which leads to more never-ending cliffhangers, more disgruntled viewers, and fewer eyes on the next premiere. Sooner or later it becomes a ratings death-spiral.

For my part I barely watch TV anymore. I pretty much only watch box-sets of shows that have finished. For example, I know I’d love Fringe. Have known I would love it from very early on. But I’ve not watched a single episode. But this week’s announcement that they’re getting a final season to wrap up means I know I have a box-set in my future that I’ll adore (that’s assuming the finale isn’t another Lost and I’m put off by a flood of furious tweets).

I understand that TV is a business. I realise that low viewing figures equals low ad revenue and shows that don’t pay their way need to be canned. I get it, I’m not naïve.

But the short term thinking behind the ruthless decision to can shows like Drive, Alcatraz, Firefly and others has built up resistance in the viewing population, like a bacteria exposed to enough unfinished antibiotic courses becomes immune. The networks have treated their audience with too much contempt for too long, and now they’re paying the price.

Media is fragmenting, TV networks are struggling to maintain their audiences in the face of Netflix, YouTube et al. But the networks’ desperation to pull in the masses is leading to the kind of wrong-headed decision that only turns them away again – for example, their decision to end the first season of the U.S. version of The Killing on a cliffhanger, which has really cheesed a lot of people off.

The network, insecure because of general falling ratings and increased competition, probably thought people wouldn’t tune in to season two unless forced to by a lack of resolution, that a cliffhanger would make S2 Ep1 a must-see event.

Whereas in actual fact the best way to get people tuning into to season two would have been to make season one really, really satisfying.

And here’s the truth that they are only just starting to grasp: in a world of subscription channels, streaming on-demand media and box sets, cancelling failing shows ruthlessly and without any closure is no longer a sustainable business model.

Maybe Fringe is the first sign of the growing awareness of this.

Fringe isn’t making money, but the network greenlit a final season anyway. Admittedly, there was an economic imperative to reach 100 episodes and get syndication — but the exec who greenlit the final run also made it clear that he had a sense of duty to the creative achievement of the show, and that there was a compact between network and viewer, a compact that he felt cancelling such a beloved show would be breaking. That’s pretty evolved thinking for a network exec!

And I think it shows the way forward.

From now on every new show that launches should come with a guarantee like this:

We, the Network, reserve the right to can this show if it doesn’t become the success we’d hoped it would be, but we solemnly swear that we will, at the very least, ensure there is time and budget provided to enable the programme makers to put together a final episode that will provide narrative closure. Financial considerations may force us to can the show, but we promise not to leave you hanging.

Such a pledge wouldn’t solve all ills, not by a long shot. But it would at least acknowledge that the networks understand that they have abused their audiences for too long, that they are contrite and understand the need to regain some element of trust and goodwill from an audience that no longer buys what they’re selling.

It would also be good business.

Dad didn’t watch Homeland in the end. I recorded it though, planning to watch the whole series once it was finished. But I heard the other day that they’ve done it again, and ended it on a cliffhanger. And I’m just too old and wise and too-many-times-burned to put up with this nonsense. So I deleted the whole damn show from my hard drive.

I’ll get the box set, thank you very much.

Scott K. Andrews writes the weekly Farscape re-watch for this very site. 

1. Herb914
I have to disagree about The Shield, although it is one of my all-time favorite shows and the ending is by no means bad. The ending of the Wire is one of my favorites despite being, curiously enough, a non-ending ending.

Committing to some level of closure seems a no-brainer considering the importance of DVD sales these days.
2. jim162065
Defying gravity was great show that was killed too soon.
3. DrewBo
This is the most fickle crap I've ever read. Fringe is a great show and I've been watching since day one. You on the other hand, "know" you'd like it but don't watch at all. With attitudes like that it's no wonder it was on the brink of cancellation. But it's okay, you're buying the box set sight-unseen. Unless some tweets are less than positive about the ending.

You are part of the problem. It is possible to enjoy a show without an ending. That's pretty much how serial entertainment works. I didn't enjoy Lost's ending but it certainly didn't ruin the previous six years of excellent episodes.
Mike Foster
4. zephyrkey
This. A thousand times this.

I'm not yet to the point where I completely forgo new tv shows because I don't want to get involved and then get burned, but it does drive me a little insane. Yes, shows like Alcatraz or Terra Nova may not be the greatest hour of television ever written, but in a network tv landscape that is increasingly taken up with reality tv or the nth incarnation of some procedural they're something different.

It all comes down to the fact that the way tv shows are rated is completely out of touch with they ways audiences actually view tv shows. Tv shows and stations live off of the whims of advertisers who base their decisions off of the numbers they get from Neilson. Which is terrible because the information Neilson provides represents an incredibly insignificant portion of the viewership (0.02% of households in the US, serisously?) and doesn't take into account the changing paradigm of tv watching. Until we get a system that accurately captures the viewing habits of tv watchers, new tv shows that need a little time to find their legs are going to be screwed.

Side note: I thought Homeland was renewed for a second season? I can handle a cliffhanger if I know it's coming back.
5. V?Griesdoorn
I thought Homeland was renewed too. This THR article from March says it's been announced for September and it's still listed as On Air by Is My Show Cancelled. Bad rumours going around?
Scott K. Andrews
6. ScottKAndrews
@zephyrkey @V?Griesdoorn
Yes, Homeland is renewed, but knowing they have a tendency to cliffhang increases the likelihood that when it is inevitably cancelled, it'll leave us hanging. So I should, if I walk as I talk in this blog, wait til the whole series is finished and make a judgement call then.

Shamefaced confession: since writing this blog I totally caved and watched Homeland season one on iTunes. I am weak and I hate myself just a little bit (tho not as much as @DrewBo does, it seems ;-)
7. PhoebeSF
Great post. I've been struggling with this all the way back since the Alien Nation days, where the Fox execs said that the show was renewed, let the producers end it on a cliff hanger--and then took it back. Fans were very lucky that there were eventually some TV movies that led to some (vague) closure. But really, it wasn't enough.

All that said, you should watch Fringe. It's occasionally very silly, but it's the type of mytharc storytelling I hoped both Lost and the X-files would be.
8. Awightknight
Ever since I was a little kid and found out ALF was cancelled mid cliff hanger it seems my tv view has been one bitter disapointment after another. Although in some cases just as bad is the show that does not know when to end ie last 2 star treks, bones, x-files and house. The good new with those is I suppose you can just stop watching.

Also the half season of Jericho was hard to watch and almost made me wished it had died as a cliffhanger.

I am still mourning the loss of the IT crowd which at 4 seasons in the UK (24 shows) is = to one US season.
9. Mieiri
don't forget Deadwood! It was great, it was well writen and keep the goals at sight. They killed it in the worst possible moment.

The Shield had a great finalle, as Sopranos and Six Feet Under =)
10. joelfinkle
The hell that was The Shield's final scene was certainly some of the finest TV, finale or no. I happen to like the similar eternal damnation that was the end of Alias.

But the best final moment in any TV show? "Emily, you should wear more sweaters." (Newhart)
11. Hatts
I really hope that the author was joking when he said he may not watch fringe if enough people don't like the ending. To use some of the examples he used I only watched Lost recently, well after the finale. I knew going in that a lot of people had complained about it, I am very glad it didn't discourage me. Being able to watch Lost in box set mode was awesome, parts of the story that bogged down that bothered people for weeks or months were over in an evenings watching.

BSG I started watching during season 4, at which point I am pretty sure it was known that season 5 was the final season. I caught up quickly, that episode of portlandia really hit home ;) Still, it was great to participate in the cultural interactions around it when I caught up - reading about it online, chatting with coworkers, etc.

I've been watching Fringe from the beginning, and it's a great show to be watching live. With such a rich mythology and all the clever ways the producers and authors play with the audience, it's kept me up reading threads online or been the topic of conversation on Monday many times.

I think the author isn't just doing himself a disservice of being part of the problem, he's also missing the experience of watching an engaging genre episodic show in the internet era. As much as I love watching tv series in boxset fashion when they are over, I think sci-fi shows in particular are better enjoyed live.
Sean Pratz
12. Galoot
I couldn't agree more. I'm very hesitant to invest in a show that might get taken from me in mid-stride. It's like having the last chapter of a book ripped out.

Sometimes, though, I can't help but be drawn in by all the buzz, even knowing there may be no conclusion. I'm looking at you, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. I hope the latter's final season measures up!
13. Tenesmus
The Wire ended nicely; they slowly expanded the "universe" season by seasaon, then put everyone through the ringer in the final season and once they all got through the ringer, ended it.

BSG's ending really didn't piss me off too much. It was exciting, but when you threw in angels and religion it was off putting to some. But really, weren't the cylons talking about religion and god the whole series? How else do you explain Baltar's imaginary girlfriend? Mental illness, implant, post hynpotic suggetion; really would any of those been any better?

TV producers really need to get better source material. They need to take esablished works of literature and adapt them for TV. (Game of Thrones) Viewers will know going in there will be closure.
14. Timothy C.
That is such a relief that Fringe will get a chance to finish its tale. I too am really impressed with the exec's class in putting his non-verbal contract with the viewer ahead of money, though I suspect the long-term consequences of this kind of honor will help Fox monetarily.

I didn't watch the last few episodes of The Cape, but didn't that one get canned early? That show was awful. Did anyone see if it had a finale or did they just stop? When you have shows like that, would you want a wrapup, or just never having to see it again?
Rowan Shepard
15. Rowanmdm3
I'm so happy you mentioned Earth 2. I LOVED that show and rewatched it recently; it stood up better than I expected. Whenever people talk about rebooting shows I wish they would reboot Earth 2 b/c there is so much more to explore.
Walter Underwood
16. wunder
My So-Called Life. It still hurts.
Sky Thibedeau
17. SkylarkThibedeau
I didn't think 'Invasion' ended with a Cliffhanger. Most of the main threads were resolved.
18. Improbable Joe
I think another part of the problem is that the very people who are the sort of savvy viewers who get into genre shows, interact with one another online, buy all the merchandise and see the actors and creators at conventions... we're the same people who can tell ahead of time when a show is likely to get cancelled because the network doesn't know what it is doing, or because the producers sold it to the wrong network (usually Fox). Look, if you put a genre show in SYFY, USA, or TNT and it gets 3-5 million viewers it is a hit for those networks. The same numbers on Fox or CBS gets you cancelled. Then the show gets scheduled against something like CSI, especially as a mid-season replacement, and you know the network bought the show as schedule filler until next year as a favor to a production company that they have good long-term dealings with otherwise.
19. chosen
I, like you had never seen an episode of Fringe, although I know I would love it. When it first came out I thought it would not get off the ground, and I did not want to go through another show I love getting canceled. So I held back, and since then Fringe has pretty much live on the bubble, I just could not bring myself to try it. Now that I know it will get an ending, I will pick up the seasons and get caught up. I may not be helping the show out by not watching it from the begining, but the networks have conditioned me to not trust any new shows until I know there will be an ending. Wether or no that ending will be any good is another matter.

I have found that I enjoy watching a show that is complete, having just recently finished The Wire boxed set. When I know I wont have to wait years and years for a conclusion, getting to skip the "will it be cancled?" anxiety, a 2 year gap between seasons 3 and 4. Only served to highten my enjoyment of the show, and what a great show it was. I kind of envy people who are just now starting Breaking Bad, the one show I currently watch where I started from episode one, and the only show that I watch durring the actual broadcast. Being able to sit back and know that there is plenty of blue meth yet to be cooked and I would be able to see Walter's complete transformation into evil SOB without it being canceled would be nice info to have.

I realize that this kind of viewing does not actually help the show I may come to love. Being a part of a fandom, envolved in discussion forums and water cooler gossip is fun. But Hollywood has burned me way to many times for me to willingly invest myself in a show that could be cancled any day now.
20. Blutnocheinmal
I agree with this, too. I do imagine it would be easier for me to get into shows if I still has cable. But I can't afford it on my own so it takes an extra bit of effort to seek out these new shows on Hulu or whatever.

And how come no ones mentioned Pushing Daisies yet? They did the best they could, but it still saddens me.

I also think cable would be wise to adopt the small series model. Like anime or asian dramas, do a series that has a definite end planned in 13/26 episodes. If its successful, hire the production people back for another show, be it sequel or not.
Patti Taylor
21. sapience14
I'm worried about whether Awake will get a proper ending--it and Grimm have been NBC's two best new shows in a long time and I'm watching the last few episodes of Awake with trepidation, knowing it hasn't been renewed.
22. Jazzlet
Yes yes yes! It drives me crazy, makes me wary about starting series and is fundamentally self-defeating. I rarely watch ANYTHING live so I can whizz through the ads, BBC programmes being the exception of course.

I appreciate that isn't very helpful to networks trying to monetarize their product, but I do pay, I pay my TV license and for cable, they just haven't given me a choice of paying for ad-free TV so I take action to avoid the ads.
23. Hivemind
Outcasts (which I liked even though lots of people didn't) is a particularly egregious example. They built up a lot of questions in to crescendo and then cliffhanger, followed by cancellation.

Contradicting an earlier commenter I felt Survivors (2000s version) had some resolution. I by no means regretted watching that.

Life (the detective show) did a good job even though they got cancelled. Each season had a resolution even though the overall story arc continued. When it got cancelled I felt like I'd read a couple of books in a series, not seen the first two acts of a five act play.

The Life way is just better than the Outcasts way. I've no problem skipping a show that I think won't have any sort of resolution. If shows don't get made because of this perhaps producers could stop doing it.
Ashe Armstrong
24. AsheSaoirse
Part of the problem is that networks still rely on the Neilson raiting system. What they NEED to do is embrace putting the episodes up online if not after the episode has aired, then the next day. They would be surprised at the numbers, I'd guess. Imagine if Firefly had been put online instead of having a shitty schedule and eps out of order? Where would we be now? And look what the internet did for Farscape. It's a cultural shift that's still happening because of the digital world.
25. andcal
What? No Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?????
26. desertpaladin
The need for networks to give shows enough resources to finish up a storyline is great....BUT given the current climate on how TV works, the showrunners and writers should also work towards a similar end. I.e writing a self contained story withing a single season that doesn't end in a jarring cliffhanger. Best example of this if Buffy. Look at each season ender and you could have ended the show with the majority of plotlines wrapped up. It's tight storytelling, which most writers of TV seem to avoid like the plague these days.

@Awightknight Alf was cancelled but was planned to launch a completely new direction with the character. There's a DVD of it out there somewhere that contains the pilot episode of that new series.
Joe Vondracek
27. joev
Wow, S:AaB, Strange Luck, and Nowhere Man! I thought that I was the only one who remembered those shows.

Surface and Defying Gravity were two shows that ended after one short season with huge cliffhangers. Urk.

I can't agree with the attitude about not watching a show because it might get cancelled after one, two, or X seasons without a "proper" resolution. If everyone did that, there would be no point in making ANY new shows because no one would watch them until a show had aired its entire run. It's rather self-defeating.

The idea of a compromise where a show was allowed to air an entire season before getting yanked is a good one. That way, we don't get cut off in the middle of a storyline. That would allow the writers to provide some closure to a season, while leaving some loose threads to be picked up in a following season, should the show be renewed. As Hivemind noted, the excellent show Life managed to do this rather well. Each season can then be treated like a single book in a series of books that share the same protagonist or world setting.

Of course, part of the problem these days is that all shows now seem to have to have some overarching storyline/plot that threads its way through every episode instead of consisting of single, loosely related episodes. (Did TOS have a story arc through its three seasons? Did TNG have a story arc during its first couple seasons?) It also seems like now every season of a show *must* end on a cliffhanger. People expect it. I don't know why. It's possible to end a season like the end of the first Star Wars movie, and then pick things up anew in the next season.
28. MiltonPope
There have also been some shows that had great send-offs, then were renewed.

Buffy was canceled in its fifth season (then renewed on another network). The episode starts with "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer", then flashes bits of every episode from all five years. Giles in particular has a Crowning Moment of Ripper, and Buffy dies in a really moving scene. While I wouldn't give up the last two seasons just to end on this high note, I still think of it as the series finale.

In Magnum, P.I., Magnum is dying, and his spirit moves around solving the case. In the end, he grins, turns his back on us and walks into the fog of Paradise. Then the show was renewed for one more season.
Michael Ikeda
29. mikeda

"The Gift" was never intended to be a series finale. It was already likely that there was going to be a sixth season at the time the episode was written.
30. AlBrown
I don't know about waiting until a show is completely over to watch it, but this article does raise some good points. With people's watching habits changing so much, it behooves the studios and networks to provide some closure to cancelled shows--it will make for a more satisfying boxed set or Netflix rental down the road!
31. AO
It's Nielsen.

By no means do I endorse the system, but critics won't be taken seriously if they can't even be bothered to spell it correctly.

"Maybe Fringe is the first sign of the growing awareness of this."

No. Fringe isn't even owned by Fox. It's owned by Warner Brothers. It normally should have been cancelled after Season 3, but WB lowered their licensing fees and Kevin Reilly is a fan of the show and somewhere they found a happy middle that got it renewed. Of course, at the same time, other shows such as Lie to Me, Chicago Code and Human Target were canceled. One or more of them might have been renewed if Fringe were to have been dropped.

There's also an increasing number of shows that are aware that their ratings place them in a precarious situation when it comes to renewal, and with that knowledge, purposely set up cliffhangers anyway. As if daring the Networks to cancel them and therefore suffer the displeasure of the fans.
juanita heath
32. nanajade
I am afraid of the ending of Awake as this seems to be a cliffhanger season renewed or cancelled. (Alcatraz,The Finder and Missing to name 3) Missing could have deleted the Prague epilogue and ended on a happy note since they were not renewed.
33. VoxOrange
I have regarded Blakes 7 as unique for a show ending for all these years. The show was lucky to get a fourth season - it was a last minute decision by a BBC exec, iirc.
34. Aaron G
The best way to avoid unresolved cliffhanger endings is to watch Showtime and HBO series. It appears to me that these two channels are faithful to their viewers and seem to plan the story arc much better.

Though some may disagree with the Sopranos finale. (I have not watched Deadwood yet).
rick gregory
35. rickg
@24 and, in general, the people who don't watch TV live...

...part of the problem is that networks still rely on the Neilson raiting system. What they NEED to do is embrace putting the episodes up online if not after the episode has aired, then the next day. They would be surprised at the numbers, I'd guess.

But those numbers don't matter unless they can sell ads against them and, for online ads, sell enough that it makes a difference. I know this will be unpopular, but networks are businesses and putting things online won't help shows unless/until that online audience represents real money. If 20 million people watch a show online but that viewership doesn't generate any meaningful revenue it doesn't matter.

Now, if a lot of people are watching online, you might legitimately ask whether the ad rates should be higher... but even if they are, would you watch online if the show there had as many ads? I'm betting most of you will say "No" which puts us right back to square 1. Shows cost money. There needs to be some financial reason to keep a show around if you want it to live long term.
36. Michael Hellwig
One reason why I love John Rogers and Leverage so much is that they have this stated policy that EVERY season could be their last and therefore they write them in such a way that they all COULD be the last in terms of story.

Also: ALF. I will never recover, or something like that.

Also: Awake: oh damn. I'm watching that.
Craig Barnett
37. Ommadawn
I'm another disappointed fan of Sarah Conner, also the very abruptly ended Bionic Woman reboot. That show was just beginning to hit its stride when they pulled the plug on it, I thought.

We were very lucky with Babylon 5; it almost didn't make it to the 5th season, and a lot of plot points were wrapped in season 4 because of this uncertainty. Even so, it ended well.

I'm also glad to see you mention Blake's 7. I loved this show, and watched it religiously as a kid. It was the one of the first sci-fi shows to bring out mature characters and plots, and actually killed off major characters! This was unheard of at the time, and was so refreshing. And it's ending... well, if you've never watched the show, I won't spoil it, but it certainly leaves you shell-shocked.

I series I loved and ever really saw completed was Millenium (with Lance Hensriksen). This is one of my favourite shows of all time, and was so much better than the X-Files in terms of plot and character development.

Alas, there is such a dearth of good sci-fi and fantasy on tv that I will devour any and all newcomers, and (usually) just deal with the disappointment when they're eventually cancelled with no closure.
38. Tahmi
Yes! I thought my husband and I were the only ones that felt this way - that by their behavior over the years the networks have actually trained potential fans NOT to become involved in their programming. We too usually wait until shows are a season or 2 in before we start watching them for all the reasons outlined above. We've actually thought for years that having fans pay for shows directly would be a much better model, and now with vehicles like kickstarter this kind of fan supported programming is much closer to becoming a reality.
39. silhouettepoms
Oh, so true. I remember my first cancellation. I was 11, and had grown to LOVE Earth2. When a friend at school told me it had been canceled--I couldn't believe it. I was in shock. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! I was used to ST:TNG which seemed to go on and on forever. It really rattled me and I became an obsessed fan of the show for a good 4-5 yrs as a result of being SOOO frustrated at its non-conclusion, felt like I had to write a conclusion for myself in the form of fanfic, talk to others who were as fervent as I was etc. I had a few other shows I loved as a teenager, a lot of them are on your list, and they too were canned. So yes ! I am extremely cynical now. I hardly watch anything in first run, like you I catch up on Netflix or DVDs. I am only now getting around to watching Farscap. I'm torn between being sad I waited so long that hardly anybody else cares anymore--was glad to see your rewatch!--and being glad that I held out long enough that even in this day & age I can watch some really GOOD programming even if it is a decade later! With the advent of Netflix my attention span for ads is getting shorter and my patience with waiting a full week for another episode even more so. Why live through a cliffhanger over a summer hiatus when you can just ignore a show for 4-5 yrs and watch it in one crazy marathon in a month or two? That's become my habit here lately... I luckily only watched S1 of the Killing the week before S2 premiered or I'd probably have been bored/angry over the hiatus. I agree it would have been a much stronger show had they wrapped things up in one season. I think there are some excellent shows on cable that do wrap up the major storyline every season, while carrying some threads along the way (Dexter, True Blood). They keep you interested without leaving you feeling cheated/manipulated at the end of the season. And Carnivale... don't get me started... watched that on DVD a few yrs after it was canceled and I mourn that all they got were 2 season. Awesome awesome show.

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