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The cancellation... One year on
by Dani Moure - Saturday, September 6th 2003

Category: Site News

So, it’s one year on. Exactly one year ago today, Ben Browder, David Kemper and Ricky Manning dropped by #farscape on Sci Fi’s IRC server and let all the fans know that negotiations for a fifth season of Farscape had fell through, and the show was cancelled. And we were shocked.

A year later, and most of us are still here, along with plenty of new fans, still doing what we can to get the show back on the air. A lot of people thought that the campaign would die out fairly quickly... Most fans would just give up. But we didn’t. We’re still here. And so I thought it was about time I reminisced a bit on the past year, and looked back at all that’s happened.

It’s been a real whirlwind year, not only in terms of what happened to the show, but also in my life. “Bad timing” would really sum up the cancellation for me. I was working a summer job, just before going in to my final year of University. It was always going to be a tough year for me, in terms of time to keep up with the site, and the cancellation just wasn’t good. When I first heard of the cancellation, I sent a telegram of thanks (on behalf of readers of this site) to the cast and crew on the set. It was all I could think of to do at first (and I know it got there, thanks to someone messaging me on chat while I was at work). For a couple of months, I spent a lot of time doing what I could to do my part, but then I had to step back just because I needed to study, and deal with life stuff. But, it was around that time that I realised (thanks in most part due to some really nice e-mails) that I was still doing something all the time, just by keeping this site open. So although I wished I could’ve kept going at the original pace, I couldn’t.

And it was like that for a lot of people. Yet, despite that, things haven’t stopped. They haven’t even really slowed down. Shortly after the cancellation, people were looking for some structure. We all wanted a good place from which a good campaign could be coordinated, and a place that was neutral. Although some of the early infighting disappointed me with certain, well, I guess you have to call them “factions”, bickering at one another, nonetheless, things soon settled down, and pretty much everyone decided to back SaveFarscape.com, for the very reasons mentioned above. Everyone worked to include the URL on pretty much all of the advertising that the campaign generated, and it was hoped it would be the port of call for people unaware of the show’s cancellation, to inform them what was going down. And it really has worked well. All the people involved with the site, especially those who were there at the beginning, deserve kudos for the time and effort they put in.

Since that day last September, we’ve seen several print ads in various publications around the world (one of which was going to be organised by us, but that fell through for several reasons), we’ve seen TV ads, flyers, tables at conventions, been on the radio, and even had the show mentioned on CNN Headline News twice. It’s really, truly been the most focussed fan campaign to save a show in a long time. We’ve come a long way and done an awful lot, and it’s all to keep the show’s name alive. We don’t want people to forget Farscape, and by and large, as fans we’ve been successful. Having a central hub of planning has really helped in that manner, too.

Of course, one of the things we really, really wanted to see, and tried to do, was to get people to watch the last 11 episodes of the show, since we had an advantage in that the second half of what was now the “final” season had yet to air, and we had almost four months until they debuted. The plan was to try and get a rating of “2.0”, or as close as possible, for the premiere of “Kansas”, the first of the new episodes. Most people knew that it would be very, very hard to do so. Realistically, it was nigh-on impossible. Farscape’s highest ever rating in the US was 1.9, for the season three premiere. The fourth season high was the opener “Crichton Kicks” with a 1.6, closely followed by the mid-season finale “Unrealized Reality” with a 1.5. The show had been averaging between 1.1 and 1.2 for most of the rest of the season. And Sci Fi’s scheduling wasn’t exactly the most encouraging.

It really started with the last four episodes of season three, which were held back from January 2002 to April that year in the US (and thus debuted in the UK on BBC TWO), because the fourth season premiere had been delayed and would now debut with Stargate SG-1. This delay meant that by the time these four episodes hit the air, the show had been off the air for new episodes for a whopping seven months. A lot of people had thought it was cancelled when it didn’t return in the January. Then, with season four, the show received a straight run of 11 episodes, but was overshadowed by Stargate SG-1, a show that already had a huge fan base from its feature film origins, run on Showtime and of course it’s time in syndication. Not to mention it is quite accessible, and relatively simple in terms of most of its plotting. Thus, when “Kansas” debuted with barely a whimper of advertising (it was usually lumped alongside SG-1, which was now Sci Fi’s clear focus and their “flagship” show), that was to be expected, because to Sci Fi there was no point in putting their eggs in the basket of a dead show. It rated a 1.3, and at that time, most of the eyes that were closely watching to see how effective the campaign was simply rolled and then moved on, forgetting about us. But the Farscape fans’ achievements really can’t be discounted. Even some long-time fans of the show had given up before the last eleven episodes aired, and while the impact of the campaigning might not have been as significant as we could’ve hoped, it did make a difference, however small. People still knew about and cared for the show. New viewers were tuning in; I heard from plenty of them myself. Yes, it wasn’t enough to bring the show back from the dead. But it was still worth it. One has to wonder what the ratings would’ve been like for those final episodes had there been no campaigning at all.

The last 11 episodes aired closely in both the US and the UK, which was nice at the time because it meant that two key areas that Farscape actually aired got to see the wondrous end at mostly the same time. Of course, once again the BBC pulled out their trick of doubling up the show to get it finished before a major sporting event, and so us UK viewers stormed ahead and got the finale a few weeks before the US. But the airings were close enough, and that was nice. It gave everyone so much to talk about, and really infused people with enthusiasm that had begun to waver after four hard months of campaigning. Some people were upset and disappointed that the UK got the last few episodes first, especially US viewers (understandably). But for UK viewers it was a nice treat, since we usually have to wait a while to see the end of US shows after they’ve aired in their homeland. It was also nice because there’s no denying that Farscape got higher ratings in the UK than in the US. In the UK, there was only a week’s break after “Unrealized Reality” before we went into “Kansas”, which scored 1.6 million viewers, in the difficult ratings week between Christmas and the new year. “Terra Firma” saw a whopping 2.2 million viewers tune in, a number not to be balked at. Yes, the show aired here on the equivalent of one of the US’ big six networks, but still, it didn’t even air in primetime, and scored good ratings. The trouble with that was that the decisions on the show’s future were all made in the US, and Sci Fi couldn’t care less how the show does anywhere but the US.

Six months on from the season finale, and the campaign is still going. People are still hard at work to organise things for this campaign. The fans are refusing to lie down, and it’s great that, for the most part, everyone has pulled together as a family of fans. There is an essence of bitchiness, infighting and bigheadedness that I do wish wasn’t there, but it’s such a tiny portion that it’s barely worth mentioning. We pulled together when it mattered. We’ve shown the people that made Farscape, and aired it, how much it means to us, how it’s a part of our lives and how we won’t forget it.

Each and every person who has ever lifted a finger in this campaign, be it sending a letter, taking part in one of the campaign stunts, made absolutely any effort that they were able to do, deserves a huge amount of applause for being a part of it. Everyone. The campaign has never been about one person or entity, it’s always been about the show. And that’s why, no matter what happens, we will all have achieved something, and have done so together. Looking back on how people have pulled together, it’s really awe-inspiring and a testament to the hearts of Farscape fans.

There’s really only one way to end this ramble, and that’s to talk about the future. Where do I see the campaign going? Do I see results coming? The answer to that would be that I’m optimistic. I’ve always believed that we can achieve something, that we can get the show back in some form or another, so we can at least get the true end to the story. And that belief has never changed. I still firmly believe that somewhere down the line, be it sooner or later, we will get word that the show is coming back. Because we have really shown over the past year that if we pull together, we can make it happen.

This past year has made me really proud to be a fan of this show.

And with that, I’ll leave you with some memories.

Cancellation Chat transcript
Cancellation Announcement
Henson’s statement on the cancellation
CNN Headline News reports on the push to save Farscape
Sci Fi posts a message to their website
Anthony Simcoe informs fans that Sci Fi will meet with Henson for further talks
Ben Browder tells CNN HLN that Sci Fi will not continue the show, following further talks
David Kemper and co discuss the fan efforts and what to do now
Farscape on the cover of Variety
Farscape World Cancellation FAQ
Farscape World Help Farscape page

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