Thursday Thoughts – How much power do TV audiences have?

Fox has been on something of a killing spree of late. After cancelling 5 shows in as little as 2 days, you have to question whether channel bosses will still have anything to run by the time they’re finished.

Amongst the massacred was Brooklyn Nine Nine. The decision to call time on this much-loved cop show was met with shock and outrage from fans (myself included). Cries of disbelief rang out across social media and soon these turned into campaigns to get the show back. In the space of just 36 hours, the show has died, been buried, and then was resurrected by Fox rival, NBC.

This reinstatement of the Nine Nine raises the question of how much power audiences actually possess, especially when it comes to TV shows. With films, it’s all fairly clear cut – if the film makes enough money, you tend to get a sequel, whether you asked for it or not. With TV, it’s not quite the same kettle of fish, however there is obviously a correlation between audience numbers and show survival rates as one of the most common reasons for cancelling a show is low ratings. Quality doesn’t seem to be a real deciding factor here either, which means this selection process is quite unfair. Shows that are actual works of art are take from us far too soon, while others that are tripe at best go on forever purely because there’s a larger audience watching it.

However, it would seem that there is hope for those good shows that come to an untimely end. Resurrections do happen – they have now saved two shows that I hold very close to my heart (one being B99, the other being Ripper Street). And on both occasions, these decisions have been brought about by the actions their audiences have taken, mainly in the form of kicking up one hell of a fuss about some idiot’s momentary (but HUGE) lapse in judgement.

So, TV audiences have power, but exactly how much do they have? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the answer is, but we definitely have a decent say in what makes the cut and what doesn’t. I don’t have the statistics for the Brooklyn Nine Nine revival handy, but I know that in the case of Ripper Street it took only 12,000 signatures on a petition to get Amazon to take the show on. In the grand scheme of things, 12,000 really isn’t a massive number either when you think about the 3.38million people that watched the show on average.

But here’s the thing – we are very spoilt for choice when it comes to what we watch on TV now. More so than ever before. There’s a lot of things to watch, but the actual audience size hasn’t increased as quickly, which in theory means that each new show and channel added stretches that audience thinner. Suddenly, 12,000 is a significant number of viewers for a channel to lose if it displeases them, and it’s also a significant number of viewers for a newer kid on the block to think about winning over. These two things coming together were ultimately what saved Ripper Street’s ass, and they will create similar dynamics in future that will save other shows. Why? Because in this world where everyone’s attention is being fought for constantly by at least 10 different entities, it’ll be the ones that give audiences what they want that come out on top. We as an audience must remember that we are the most important people to these TV stations, and also streaming platforms too. Without us, they have no purpose and therefore would cease to exist. NBC are giving the people what they want by saving Brooklyn Nine Nine, just as Amazon did when they saved Ripper Street. I do not doubt for a second that they will benefit from their decision, but regardless of however it turns out, they will be known to millions as the people who saved B99, and that kind of testimony packs a punch. And the only people who can provide that testimony are the audience, which is why they wield so much power.


Tuesday Top Ten – Most Anticipated Films Of 2017

My second Top Ten is taking a look at the films that have caught my attention as we come into 2017. This list comes in order of release date, and doesn’t in any way represent which films I am looking forward to more. Let’s begin, shall we?

10. La La Land (out now)

The things that I have already heard/read about this film have made me sway towards it. It hadn’t been on my radar at all, but good reviews started coming in and then I saw the trailer at the cinema before Christmas. It seems to me as though La La Land with be an uplifting musical drama that will raise spirits and, if nothing else, will probably win numerous awards for what I can only imagine will be a terrific soundtrack and score.

9. Manchester By The Sea (out now)

A few things caught my eye here. Firstly, I really like Casey Affleck – I thought he played a good supporting character in Good Will Hunting, plus he was terrific in Out Of The Furnace (check it out if you haven’t already). To have him as the lead here is a big draw for me. The storyline may not be the most overly original plot, but I just have a good feeling about this film given the cast and the release date. I will definitely be checking out Manchester By The Sea as soon as I get the chance.

8. Live By Night (out 13 Jan)

I’m a self-confessed history geek, but I find some periods in history more interesting than others. One of my favourite periods is the Prohibition Era in 1920s America, which is why I’m looking forward to Live By Night. Upon closer inspection, the cast also looks pretty good, with a handful of big names popping up on the quiet. It’s had mixed reviews in the U.S. where it’s already out, but I do have a soft spot for films like this. We’ll see how it goes.

7. Split (out 20 Jan)

To say I’m a bit excited about this film would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the trailer, or checked when it was set to come out in cinemas. James McAvoy is playing a man with 24 different personalities and is going to kidnap some girls. You all know by now how much I love a good psychopathic villain in films, and McAvoy is showing extreme promise here. The only thing that worries me slightly is M. Night Shyamalan is directing, and I haven’t been 100% wowed by his films in the past, but maybe this can change that.

6. Fences (out 10 Feb)

Another film that is set to come out that will have a lot of history behind it is Fences. Seeing Denzel Washington’s face on the poster was enough to grasp my curiosity, and when I went to find out more, I was rather pleased by what I discovered. Viola Davis will co-star alongside Washington. I loved her in The Help, and think she will be perhaps the best match for the lead actor here. Black history is another area of history that hugely interests me, so it will be good to see another film that explores that.

5. Moonlight (out 17 Feb)

We’ve had a bad deal here in England with this one I think. Moonlight has been out in America for ages, yet we still have to wait another month to see it. The wait has been hard, as I have yet to hear a bad thing about this film. People have really loved this film for it’s performances and the issues it raises. Are awards in this film’s future? By the sounds of things, I’d say so.

4. The Eyes Of My Mother (out 24 March)

This is the film I know the least about on this whole list, which holds an awful lot of excitement for me in itself. I don’t know if it’s a foreign or English speaking film, or what it is about entirely. I don’t even know any of the cast members. The Eyes Of My Mother has me going in blind (pun intended), but I really like what little information I do know about this film. I’ve become quite adventurous with horror films over the last few months or so, with my viewing of the Saw franchise and that glorious film, The Hills Have Eyes, so I know that even if I hate the film, I’ll have a grand old time with the review afterwards.

3. Free Fire (out 31 March)

If nothing else, this film will be so much fun! The idea of the plot is something that has me in much anticipation of it’s release, and then there’s also the cast has a couple of low-key huge talents dotted amongst it i.e. Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy. The film is set in 70s Boston, and focuses on the meeting of two rival gangs in a warehouse. Already I am beginning to think about what songs are going to feature in the score of this film. 

2. The Zookeeper’s Wife (out 5 May)

I love Jessica Chastain. I think she has been excellent in every film I’ve seen her in to date, which include Interstellar and The Martian, although she was only in those for relatively short amounts of time. She is set to warm hearts in (another) historical drama, The Zookeeper’s Wife, which is based on the true story of Antonina Zabinski. I think this has potential to be a wonderful family film, although I’m aware no age ratings have been released yet, so I could be completely wrong there.

1. Alien: Covenant (expected 19 May)

I have to say, the only reason I really picked Alien: Covenant was because I needed ten films and I was running it of films where the poster caught my eye – I know… It’s not the recommended way of deciding which films you’re looking forward to, but it’s worked okay for me in the past so I’ll stick with it for now. I haven’t seen a single film in the franchise yet, although I plan on changing that before this comes out, hopefully, early in the summer.

So there’s the handful of films I’m most looking forward to for at least this half of 2017. What do you think of my top ten? Would you have picked anything different? Let me know! It’s always good to talk film with you guys, so leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions you think should have made an appearance here.

Review – Twelve Monkeys

When the future of the planet is in jeopardy following the outbreak if a deadly disease, a convict travels back in time to gather information on the source of the outbreak.In 1997, a deadly virus kills 99% of the human population, forcing the survivors to flee underground and allowing the animals to rule the world once more. One of the survivors, imprisoned sociopath James Cole (Bruce Willis) is chosen to return to the past and find the source of the outbreak and gather information that could prove useful in defending the human race against the disease. Once he is back in the past, James investigates the Army Of The Twelve Monkeys and is to report his findings, but a man claiming to be fighting human extinction is not what the rest of the world is willing to accept as part of its view on sanity.

In preparation for my appearance on Talking Stars, an emergency viewing of Twelve Monkeys had to take place as it was probably the one big Bruce Willis film that I had not seen. It was after watching it that I was reminded of the reasons why I hadn’t rushed to see it before – I’m really not the greatest science-fiction fan, no matter who might be the star of the show.

Willis was kind of his usual self here. James was one of those reluctant hero types, and was a character who certainly wasn’t out of place played by Willis. However, it did feel as though rather too much emphasis was being put on the fact that his character was mentally insecure, or was at least viewed by everyone else to be. I don’t know, it just wasn’t my favourite role of Willis’ for the reason that while it tried to stay in fairly familiar territory, it also attempted to change things up too much.

That’s not the story for all of the performances though, Brad Pitt played Jeffrey Goines – someone James meets during his time at the institution and who later becomes a leading figure in the Army Of The Twelve Monkeys. Pitt provides a stunning performance as the lightly clinically insane Jeffrey and was absolutely mesmerising to watch. It’s not hard to see why this was a big breakout role for Pitt, who was rewarded for his efforts with an Oscar nomination for his performance. If anything, it was worth watching Twelve Monkeys just for him.

For me, the film’s major downfall came with the plot and the genre it all fell into. As I’ve said, I’m not the biggest lover of sci-fi films, and so the second a film crosses over into that genre I immediately get sceptical. It was fine until I got past the halfway mark and then the storyline lost me, or rather I lost it.

All in all, Twelve Monkeys probably isn’t a film that I’ll be rushing to see again, although I probably should in order to understand it slightly better. Acting overall was pretty average with glimpses or brilliance, and you know how I felt about the plot. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, and will therefore be joining all of the other sci-fi films I just couldn’t hack.