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Please, Don't Cancel My Show

By Alex Gordon   April 29, 1997

Being a fan of a TV show is a big pain in the ass.

Speaking for myself and most of my friends (at least those that are gainfully employed), there's just not enough time to in the week to watch good old prime time TV. In my case, I have about five hours a week I can dedicate to watching first-run network prime time shows. This basically translates to me seeing on a weekly basis: Friends (I keep thinking it will be funny again), Seinfeld, ER, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and The X-Files. There's other shows I'd like to watch, but I just don't have the time or energy to commit to sitting down to watch them, remembering to tape to them or getting involved with their plot lines.

In fact its the increasingly intricate plots that are the hardest part about committing to a new program. Time was that most shows were self-contained. You could miss an episode of The Love Boat and still be in the know. Miss an episode of The X-Files and you're screwed (what the hell is the deal with those bees?). Increasingly the best jokes on Seinfeld are references to earlier episodes, which was not the case with say Three's Company.

But perhaps the main reason not to commit to a new program is the odds that the program will remain on the air. Every year the networks churn out countless programs, of which only about a dozen or so survive. So even if you take the time to get involved with a program, to sort out the characters and plots, to budget your time and set your VCR, there's a very good chance the effort will be for naught.

In fact, the networks are right now deciding, which programs will return next fall and which will join the dust heap. In the past, ardent fans have petitioned the networks and started letter-writing campaigns to spare their favorite shows. Now those fans have taken to the Net, with entire Web sites set up just to plead their cases. We documented this phenomena last May in the magazine, but I thought it would be fun to look at this year's crop of last-minute pleas to heartless network execs.

Critically acclaimed and little watched, CBS's crime drama EZ Streets has already been canceled. Still, that fact hasn't kept fans of the show from keeping up a save EZ Streets site. While the Tiffany Network may have pulled the plug already, fans of the gritty drama are encouraged to petition HBO and Showtime, both of which have apparently shown interest in producing new episodes.

My wife watches ABC's Relativity, my mother-in-law watches Relativity, all my friends watch Relativity, but it seems no one in the so-called Nielsen family watches the show. The point is, that despite the low ratings, people love this show. That adoration is reflected in the SOS Save Relativity page, where fans of the show are encouraged to send not letters or e-mail, but cans of ravioli to ABC execs. One of the show's main characters is a big fan of ravioli, and the inspiration behind the "can-paign." So far, 350 cans have been sent (they are being donated to a local food bank). In fact, the efforts to save the show are so organized that there's even an official save Relativity T-shirt for sale at the site. Beyond this site, there's an Official WebQuarters of the Save Relativity Team, where plans are underway to take out a full-page in Variety pleading for a stay of execution.

While shows likeEZ Streets and Relativity may stand a fighting chance, the Webmasters begging the Net community for help in saving little-heralded shows like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Practice seem to be just wasting their time like so many before them.

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