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Monday December 18th 2017

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Fans keep some shows alive

By Shelby Powell–
At the end of nearly every television season, as the mercury rises and leaves begin to grow on the trees once more, one or two shows will be put dangerously close to cancellation.

For many shows, that’s it. They will go quietly to the television graveyard like so many before it. For others, there is hope. If the fan base is devoted enough, they will mobilize.

This has been the case with several shows of the past. Roswell, a sci-fi soap opera set in Roswell, New Mexico was a modest hit for the former WB network. When it was threatened with cancellation, fans sent in bottles of hot sauce to the network.

Jericho, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi show on CBS, was brought back from the brink by a clever mail in campaign using peanuts. Most notably, NBC spy show Chuck has been repeatedly saved from cancellation. The fans, instead of bombarding the network, went to the sponsors instead. For every Subway sandwich they bought, fans wrote on comment cards that it was because of Chuck.

Chuck’s situation is an unusual one and for every mail-in campaign that works, there are two more that fail. The most recent addition to the long list of shows on death’s door is NBC sitcom Community. NBC made the decision to bench the show at midseason, airing the rest of the show at an undetermined date. There has been a lackluster attempt at a mail-in campaign to sway the network but it hasn’t really taken off.

There is some question about the effectiveness of these campaigns. In order to change anything, the campaign needs to be massive. Varied and sporadic interest will, if anything, reinforce the network’s decision. These types of campaigns are an interesting window into the increasing fan involvement in entertainment. It isn’t about clicking on the television anymore. Fans have a voice and they want to be heard.