A few weeks ago I posted on ABC’s lack of decision regarding its summer series The Gates. Well, it appears that as of Friday, while nothing “official” has been announced by ABC, The Gates has been canceled.
Here’s the kicker. It’s being reported on the interwebs that the reasons for the cancellation are poor ratings and…wait for it…lack of promotion! Now here is where I really have to stop for a moment and take ten deep breaths to calm myself.
What’s up with that ABC? It seems to us that you doomed The Gates for cancellation from the start. ABC failed to promote The Gates in the most obvious of places and expected them to thrive. Now ABC is surprised that the show, which premiered this summer, didn’t do very well in the ratings? No one knew what it was or when it was on!
Now granted, ratings are generally lower in the summer across the board. People are outside doing things or are on vacation. They aren’t watching a lot of TV, let alone a series late on a Sunday night. So that should be taken into consideration. Something else ABC needs to consider, and it’s unknown whether or not they did so we must withhold judgment on this bit, is that the majority of viewers watch their shows off of Hulu.com or their DVRs. The company that does the Nielsen ratings has admitted to having an issue when it comes to counting those viewers. When you take that into account along with Nielsen’s notoriously unreliable system for counting viewers, it’s not surprising that things get a little wonky. Since I can’t fault ABC for Nielsen’s craptastic ratings system, it wouldn’t be fair for me to spend too much time on the ratings soap box.
With that being said, if the show had been marketed and promoted properly, and in all of the appropriate markets and to the appropriate fan bases from the beginning, it is likely that even with a crummy time slot The Gates could have gained more followers. However, ABC dropped the ball and instead choose to promote shows two, three, even four months before their debut instead which leaves us to wonder who exactly is running the marketing department because they clearly don’t understand fan bases or the communities their shows should be promoted to.
Back to the situation at hand, in doing some research I’ve found that speculative fiction series, which is what The Gates ultimately was, don’t do very well anymore. Why? First, the networks are finding them to be too costly to produce. Why bother when it’s much cheaper to create another reality show? As long as there are single people out there looking for fame there’s always someone willing to sign up for The Bachelor/Bachelorette. In a time of recession when even the networks are feeling it, what the viewers actually want and what the networks are willing to shell out money for are two very different things.
What we don’t understand is how ABC can cancel programming like The Gates that’s original and innovative before being given a chance to really spread its wings and yet renew programming like V which is just a remake of a miniseries. They renew their reality series over and over again and yet when something new comes along it’s shoved in the corner before being told to go away. Then network execs sit there scratching their heads and wondering why more and more viewers are switching to cable. Is it really that much of a mystery? The answers seem pretty clear if you use common sense. Viewers want original programming and by original we don’t mean remakes loaded down with CGI to cover up mundane dialog and a mind-numbing plot. When viewers don’t get original programming they switch to watching stations that offer what they want. Plain and simple.
ABC did take a chance with The Gates just like ABC Family took a chance with Huge (which was also, coincidentally, canceled). ABC should get a small amount of credit for trying. However, we’re being left to wonder if they really did try. What ABC expected The Gates to achieve in order to be considered a success was, quite frankly, ridiculous. Unfortunately, too many viewers were at Comic Con, Dragon*Con and other summer conventions to boost the ratings or discover a show airing at 10:00 on Sunday nights. With the parameters ABC set for The Gates, poor time slot, lack of promotion, and even its passive aggressive indecision regarding renewal, it’s no wonder that the show was canceled. Then again, it’s now blatantly obvious that ABC never intended for the show to last more than one season.
There is, however, one thing that ABC didn’t take into account: the fans. Sci-fi fans are notorious for write-in campaigns and attempts to save shows. Several of these campaigns have been successes in at least gaining one more season. If ABC won’t pick up the show then fans should write to other networks. CBS picked up Medium after NBC canceled it. Comedy Central picked up Futurama. It’s not unheard of and it’s been done before. If ABC isn’t the type of network that wants to offer its viewers original programming then perhaps another network would be more willing…maybe SyFy for example? What about FX? They seem to like to take risks. Cable TV may once again have the balls where network TV fails.
I am not, by any means, saying that the show can be saved by fan response as it’s very possible that the actors themselves may no longer be available. What I am saying is that it isn’t in the nature of the sci-fi fan to go down without a fight. So pick up your pens loyal fans of The Gates:
- Write to ABC. Tell them how unhappy you are with their decision.
- Write to other networks and tell them why you think they should pick up the show.
- Write to the sponsors whose products were advertised during the show and tell them you want to see more of The Gates.
Hope isn’t entirely lost and ABC technically hasn’t “officially” announced anything via press release. If The Gates is to go out, let it go out fighting. It’s what the cast, crew, writers, producers and everyone else who worked hard on the show deserve. At the very least it shows our appreciation to them for creating what truly was a fantastic show.
All of the SpaceGypsies would like to take a moment to thank the entire cast and crew of The Gates for giving us thirteen wonderful episodes. You have certainly gained us as fans and we wish you nothing but the best in your careers, wherever they may take you. Which is why, here at SpaceGypsies.com we never say “goodbye” but rather, “see you soon!”
Stay tuned to SpaceGypsies.com. The show may not be returning for a second season but we’re not done with your episode guides yet! Stay tuned!