Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah wrote: Tue May 25, 2021 11:14 am I'm not sure. I've always taken it that it was as Frost said it was. Pre-empted means the episode is scheduled but doesn't air right? Or is it just shifted to a different time?
I think what he implied was that it was scheduled but didn’t air (presumably it would air the following week).
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Jonah
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Well, all the ratings and air dates are listed on Wikipedia. I imagine if it hadn't aired, the dates shown would reflect that or there would be no ratings recorded? Maybe he means the six week hiatus when he says pre-empted, or maybe they aired at a later timeslot than scheduled. Maybe someone who watched back then in the US will come along and fill us in! (AudreyHorne, where are you?)
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah wrote: Tue May 25, 2021 11:18 am Well, all the ratings and air dates are listed on Wikipedia. I imagine if it hadn't aired, the dates shown would reflect that or there would be no ratings recorded? Maybe he means the six week hiatus when he says pre-empted, or maybe they aired at a later timeslot than scheduled. Maybe someone who watched back then in the US will come along and fill us in! (AudreyHorne, where are you?)
I don’t see any obvious gaps during the period when Desert Storm was occurring. The only week off in that period was 1/26, but per Usenet, it seems that was a planned week off (some TV movie starring “Rowdy” Roddy Piper aired instead, and the newsgroup went to town “discussing” made-up details from the mythical “1/26 episode” as an elaborate inside joke). I honestly think Mark is mistaken. I don’t think war coverage ever actually preempted a full episode (although perhaps it cut into the show at times?).
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Yeah, maybe it cut in or forced a couple of episodes to a different timeslot? I seem to recall him saying something about viewers not being able to find the show?
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I have never been able to make sense of the gulf war pre-emption reasoning
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Mr. Reindeer wrote: Tue May 25, 2021 8:16 am I think The Sopranos is a pretty perfect ending. I also think both TP endings were brilliant (E29 and P18...and for that matter, FWWM as well).

I’ll also defend the Lost ending to the death, although I realize I’m on shakier ground there in the eyes of some. On the other hand, I think the Breaking Bad ending is kind of meh, although most people seem to like it.

Six Feet Under is an example of a show whose reputation was actually elevated by a brilliant ending. It’s hard to think of too many other examples of that. Newhart? St. Elsewhere?

Personally, I’m not sure I would call the GoT ending “carefully planned out.” But maybe it’s best not to go down that rabbit hole. ;)
I am not necessarily saying any of those endings are bad. I am just saying that I've heard a lot of complaints over the years. I think Lost is the one that seems the most controversial.

And I agree with you on Twin Peaks, although the original series had an advantage: David Lynch directing and essentially re-writing the entire episode.

Edit: For the record, I was a big Lost fan for the first 3 seasons but fell off watching and lost interest before the end. So I still haven't made it through Seasons 4 and 5 and don't know if I ever will.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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mtwentz wrote: Tue May 25, 2021 3:27 pm
Edit: For the record, I was a big Lost fan for the first 3 seasons but fell off watching and lost interest before the end. So I still haven't made it through Seasons 4 and 5 and don't know if I ever will.
I also (briefly but I went back) gave up during Season 3. Season 4 and 5 are brilliant (shorter, more action-packed and focused, though probably not as good as the second half of Season 3). Season 6 is a mixed bag. I'd say continue with it. The ending may or may not be your cup of tea but the journey is fun, especially when you can binge watch it.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Can't help but join in on the Lost tangent. :) My opinion is pretty much Mr. Reindeer's & Jonah's.

Season 3 starts dreadfully spinning its wheels, but if you stick with it, you get to the best reinvention of a plot trajectory I can think of.

Season 5 is my favorite. All its arcs, the freewheeling plot structure, character motivations, themes and situations are all at their most exciting and risk-taking, and work together with the most coherence Lost ever gets at. Everyone is developed into feeling like a human at this point and the stakes are compelling.

Season 6 is best summed up as a mixed bag, for sure. I think some of the wind gets let out of the sails given the over-arching plot the season starts on, so that a lot of the characters feel like they're brought back to ground zero, and not in a good way. They feel less human than in Season 5, like the writers or the characters themselves have too much of a clear, crystalized idea of who they are, almost verging on flanderization. I admire a lot of choices especially in thematic terms, but in retrospect, a lot of the episodes themselves work less as coherent self-contained narratives (especially because the Island goings-ons felt meandering) as they do a season-long set-up for the finale. It really does feel weakened by the fact that it's saving the best for last, and spending time on things just to move them into place and tee everything up for the end.

Which, I'll also defend the finale to death. It's probably the most 'rewarding' one I can think of, just falling short of being indulgent, in terms of entertainment value and emotional payoff. When I think back to the night it aired I almost get overwhelmed with how high my expectations were, and yet how into it I was on a minute by minute basis.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Mark isn't wrong. Whether the show was taken off the schedule last minute, or simply thrown around the schedule, the second season had a (for that time) extremely high number of skipped weeks in it's airing schedule. Half a month between 2x08 and 2x09. A full month (christmas) break between 2x11 and 2x12. Half a month between 2x13 and 2X14. One month+ break between 2x16 and 2x17. Two month(!!) break between 2x20 and 2x21. Given this was a time before streaming, torrents, and set to pre-record VHS players it makes sense that people gave up on following a highly serialised show under such conditions.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Yeah, it jumped around a lot. I think ABC is still known for that to an extent - Lost often aired reruns and had long gaps between new episodes, and even it's recent show Big Sky went on a two month hiatus mid-season (I think they'd originally planned for 9 or 10 episodes, then extended it to 16). But they didn't even jump around as much as TP did. I think that's probably what Mark meant, even if it's not the exact definition of pre-empted (but I'm not sure if it is or not).
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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eyeboogers wrote: Wed May 26, 2021 2:16 am Mark isn't wrong. Whether the show was taken off the schedule last minute, or simply thrown around the schedule, the second season had a (for that time) extremely high number of skipped weeks in it's airing schedule. Half a month between 2x08 and 2x09. A full month (christmas) break between 2x11 and 2x12. Half a month between 2x13 and 2X14. One month+ break between 2x16 and 2x17. Two month(!!) break between 2x20 and 2x21. Given this was a time before streaming, torrents, and set to pre-record VHS players it makes sense that people gave up on following a highly serialised show under such conditions.
I don’t think any of those gaps were due to war coverage, though, based on the timing. It showed every week during the main portion of Desert Storm besides the one preemption due to a TV movie called Tag Team. Certainly it was preempted and removed from the schedule a lot, nobody is denying that ABC jerked the show around. But as far as I can tell, those were all scheduled/planned preemptions. I think he is incorrect in blaming war coverage. In fact, by blaming the war, Mark is arguably giving ABC more credit than they seem to deserve, since the preemptions were all fully within their control.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Since we don't have a time machine we can't tell that for sure. But regardless if war coverage was the direct reason for an episode being delayed, the war coverage certainly ate up a lot of ABC airtime. Maybe f.ex. that Tag Team movie would have gone elsewhere. Regardless, the reason is not as important as that it does appear as if someone at the network badly wanted the show to fail.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I was summoned. The Gulf War coverage happened in the Feb episodes of Peaks. I believe it maybe cut off the Hseely, Leo fight episode in some markets… for me it only cut off about thirty seconds of the opening credits.

The long hiatuses between episodes were nothing unusual for any show on tv at the time. Sept, Nov, Feb and May were sweeps months when the big episodes would be shown. December would usually have one maybe two new episodes of a series. January would typically be a void. The difference is Peaks did not show repeats. The dearth from end of Feb until end of March was because the show was pulled… and then the final six were put back on Thursdays at 9:00 against Cheers again. And of course, the last two were pulled yet again due to low ratings. And burned off on a Monday in June as a TV movie if the week,

I believe the Gulf War is revisionist history. The show was already lagging by industry standards in its initial season two time slot. Nothing to do whether or not you think the quality was good or not. The other revisionist history is the network forcing the hand of revealing the killer tanked the show. Again, nothing to do with one’s personal opinion of the quality, but the show had waned from the general public’s interest. In the narrow field of networks, Peaks niche viewers didn’t stand a chance.

Personal opinion, nothing they did could save the show. But they did not do themselves any favors by crafting exciting storylines that would hook viewers. The whodunit of Laura Palmer’s killer was played out and needed resolution based on the TV landscape. They probably needed to overlap new mysteries, and then develop one episode or three episode mini mysteries so the average viewer could tune in. And keep the characters fairly consistent so the average viewer can keep up. Ie. Cooper solves crimes with his trusty Truman sidekick; Audrey Nancy Drew’s; Ben and Catherine do big baddie town things. Not saying it would’ve saved the show, but in 1991 that was the mentality for TV.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Audrey Horne wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:11 am I was summoned. The Gulf War coverage happened in the Feb episodes of Peaks. I believe it maybe cut off the Hseely, Leo fight episode in some markets… for me it only cut off about thirty seconds of the opening credits.

The long hiatuses between episodes were nothing unusual for any show on tv at the time. Sept, Nov, Feb and May were sweeps months when the big episodes would be shown. December would usually have one maybe two new episodes of a series. January would typically be a void. The difference is Peaks did not show repeats. The dearth from end of Feb until end of March was because the show was pulled… and then the final six were put back on Thursdays at 9:00 against Cheers again. And of course, the last two were pulled yet again due to low ratings. And burned off on a Monday in June as a TV movie if the week,

I believe the Gulf War is revisionist history. The show was already lagging by industry standards in its initial season two time slot. Nothing to do whether or not you think the quality was good or not. The other revisionist history is the network forcing the hand of revealing the killer tanked the show. Again, nothing to do with one’s personal opinion of the quality, but the show had waned from the general public’s interest. In the narrow field of networks, Peaks niche viewers didn’t stand a chance.

Personal opinion, nothing they did could save the show. But they did not do themselves any favors by crafting exciting storylines that would hook viewers. The whodunit of Laura Palmer’s killer was played out and needed resolution based on the TV landscape. They probably needed to overlap new mysteries, and then develop one episode or three episode mini mysteries so the average viewer could tune in. And keep the characters fairly consistent so the average viewer can keep up. Ie. Cooper solves crimes with his trusty Truman sidekick; Audrey Nancy Drew’s; Ben and Catherine do big baddie town things. Not saying it would’ve saved the show, but in 1991 that was the mentality for TV.
Thanks for clearing up the Gulf War mystery, Audrey! In the Conversations book, Mark says he believes the show was preempted six out of eight weeks for war coverage (although he admits that he may be misremembering). That just does not appear to be the case. What you said makes much more sense, that the episodes were airing, but local affiliates were periodically cutting in with news footage. Particularly annoying since as you say, the episodes were not being rerun, so if you missed a scene, you’d never see it again.

I think the only thing ABC did to screw the show was give it two terrible timeslots—one of which it actually somehow thrived in, but the hype had already started to die by S2 and the Saturday slot certainly didn’t help matters. I guess the “no reruns” too.
Last edited by Mr. Reindeer on Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Audrey Horne wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:11 am I was summoned. The Gulf War coverage happened in the Feb episodes of Peaks. I believe it maybe cut off the Hseely, Leo fight episode in some markets… for me it only cut off about thirty seconds of the opening credits.

The long hiatuses between episodes were nothing unusual for any show on tv at the time. Sept, Nov, Feb and May were sweeps months when the big episodes would be shown. December would usually have one maybe two new episodes of a series. January would typically be a void. The difference is Peaks did not show repeats. The dearth from end of Feb until end of March was because the show was pulled… and then the final six were put back on Thursdays at 9:00 against Cheers again. And of course, the last two were pulled yet again due to low ratings. And burned off on a Monday in June as a TV movie if the week,

I believe the Gulf War is revisionist history. The show was already lagging by industry standards in its initial season two time slot. Nothing to do whether or not you think the quality was good or not. The other revisionist history is the network forcing the hand of revealing the killer tanked the show. Again, nothing to do with one’s personal opinion of the quality, but the show had waned from the general public’s interest. In the narrow field of networks, Peaks niche viewers didn’t stand a chance.

Personal opinion, nothing they did could save the show. But they did not do themselves any favors by crafting exciting storylines that would hook viewers. The whodunit of Laura Palmer’s killer was played out and needed resolution based on the TV landscape. They probably needed to overlap new mysteries, and then develop one episode or three episode mini mysteries so the average viewer could tune in. And keep the characters fairly consistent so the average viewer can keep up. Ie. Cooper solves crimes with his trusty Truman sidekick; Audrey Nancy Drew’s; Ben and Catherine do big baddie town things. Not saying it would’ve saved the show, but in 1991 that was the mentality for TV.
Thanks for weighing in , Audrey - I really appreciate your take.

When you say Peaks didn't show repeats, do you mean during this time or ever? Was that unusual for the time (compared to other shows) and if so why do you think that was? Having repeat episodes might have kept keep viewers up to date and helped with the ratings more. Maybe not significantly, but it might have helped. I remember Mark saying on Donahoe that a (bulk) repeat of the first season would air (over the summer maybe?) so it doesn't sound like they happened on a regular, weekly basis even during that first season. I'm guessing Season 2 would have been too long to repeat over a summer break before a Season 3 happened had it been renewed, but they should have aimed to have a weekly repeat on a different night/timeslot, even a late slot. (Was that common practice back then for other shows?)
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