Snippets Issue 32 : Issue 32

Fandom Saves

The power of a strong fanbase

Fandom Saves

In the process of putting together The Fandom Issue of Snippets, I was amazed by the level of commitment, creativity and charity that can be inspired by something so simple as a television series, a game or a comic book. From the incredible efforts of cosplayers to those who write fan fiction, it's clear that fandom has power, and this is exemplified in the ability of fans to revive their beloved, cruelly cancelled TV shows.

Then:

One of the oldest and most famous examples of a fanbase's ability to save their beloved franchise is with the sixties Star Trek: The Original Series. After just two seasons, NBC threatened the show with cancellation but the fan protests in the form of a mass letter writing campaign and demonstrations outside NBC offices forced the executives to reverse their decision and release a second season. Unfortunately, this is just one of a trend you will see among its ilk; while the channel concedes to popular demand, they will not necessarily work in the interests of the renewed series. The show was released in a competitive time slot and with a reduced budget, meaning it only lasted until the end of the third season when fans could no longer sustain it.

Now:

While it may not be much of a victory, the franchise developed a cult following thanks to reruns, and had its very first Star Trek convention in 1972. It has retained that status to this day and is currently seeing a new revival in movies!

Then:

Thanks to the advent of BBC America, the renewed 2005 series of Doctor Who has become popular worldwide, especially in the USA, although it has always had a passionate following in the UK. Series of the show ran from 1963 until 1985 without much complaint, but when the BBC hired a new controller – who claimed he never liked the show and wanted to cancel it outright – things began to go wrong. At first, production was announced to be pushed back by a year, which lead to fan outrage in the form of front-page news stories and even a charity single titled “Doctor In Distress”; unfortunately, an eighteen month hiatus and a serious of unfortunate losses for the production team seemed to doom the show. Finally it was placed in the same time slot as the popular soap Coronation St, which caused viewership to fall and eventually for the series to be suspended indefinitely.

Now:

For the sixteen years between cancellation and revival, the stories went on in the form of magazines and comics. Fans wrote stories about the Doctor, invented new companions and attended conventions year after year, and it still has a strong following to this day, now on the Twelfth Doctor.

A soap opera, murder mystery, supernatural and psychological thriller. No wonder it was doomed from the start.

Then:

Of course, Twin Peaks did considerably better than anyone would have predicted. No one in the industry thought this show from madman David Lynch would perform so well that it would detract viewers from the popular sitcom Cheers, especially when the finale of the first season was put into a good timeslot and received incredible ratings. Unfortunately, after the core murder mystery was solved, ratings began to plummet and the faced a number of problems. Thanks to the efforts of the Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peeks (or COOP, an homage to the series' main character), ABC were forced to show the remaining six episodes of the second season before it was finally placed on indefinite hiatus.

Now:

While some questions were answered with the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, fans have continued to press for more Twin Peaks action ever since, and now they may finally have their wish. At the time of writing, series three is being filmed and is due for release in 2017.

Then:

When Joss Whedon's Firefly was first aired, the time slot was changed constantly throughout the week; what’s more, the episodes were aired out of order. Naturally it suffered, and was cancelled even before all thirteen episodes had been aired. Luckily Whedon’s ability to captivate the interests of geeks – you only need to look at what a success Buff the Vampire Slayer was – earned him an enthusiastic fanbase, who began a huge campaign of letters, adverts, petitions and conventions to allow for the release of the full season on DVD in 2003. The Browncoats, as they like to be known, are responsible for the production of the film Serenity which aimed to wrap up some plot points.

Now:

Fan campaigns have secured copies of Firefly on board navy ships, raised $65,000 for Equality Now, and DVDs of both Firefly and Serenity are a permanent fixture on the International Space Station. The franchise has most recently been revived by a Zack Whedon written comic series, Serenity: Leaves On The Wind which continues the story nine months after the events of Serenity.

Then:

At the end of the third series of the immensely popular comedy series Community, it was announced that the creator and executive producer Dan Harmon would be leaving – against his will – as well as other members of staff who seemed integral. When it became clear that Community wouldn't be airing in the next season schedule, a huge viral campaign took off across social networking sites using the hashtags #SaveCommunity and #SixSeasonsAndAMovie, an in-show reference to their desire for a long run. NBC announced that it only planned to release one more season, and remained vague about the rest.

Now:

After a PSA video from College Humor and a flashmob outside of the Rockefeller Center studios around Christmas, the fourth season was finally released. Dan Harmon rejoined the show and it reached the target of Six Seasons before ending with closure.

Then:

When the second season of Arrested Development was cut from 22 episodes down to 18, fans of the show knew it was a bad sign. They had seen this before. As expected, it was cancelled just after the second season thanks to its low ratings. Fans assembled and sent crates of bananas to executives as a reference to the Bluth family’s banana stand business, and they succeeded in procuring another excellent season, albeit a short one. In the last few episodes the post-modern show made it clear that while they didn’t see any room for them still on television, they would be interested in making a film. One final teaser for the audiences.

Now:

Six years after the series was cancelled, a brand new series of Arrested Development was released on Netflix in 2013, largely due to the ongoing pressure from fans. There may even be a film in the future – if we’re lucky.

To a fan, a TV show isn’t just a piece of idle entertainment. The important lessons about equality and love in Star Trek, the blindingly clever foreshadowing of Arrested Development, the dark fantasy entwined with British slapstick humour of Doctor Who...these shows and more have stirred so much creative energy, brought together people who felt alone, and defied all odds not to disappear from the public consciousness.


Jenny obsesses about all her favourite things on her blog, The Collected Rantings of a Blue Haired Geek.

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