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: Mon May 24, 2021 12:48 pm Frost also mentioned the Dallas movies in the Donahue interview, but the weird think is that wasn't made until several years after that!
I remember that! It was like he had a time-traveling moment!
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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There was an old western called Dallas but he didn't mean that - he seemed to actually think a Dallas movie had been made and that it hadn't done well.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I was scanning back over this thread, and realized I posted the wrong link in my post about the cancellation of China Beach. I updated the post, but here is the proper link for Jonah and anyone else who is interested: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm ... story.html
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Thanks. Weird that they said it was in its third season when it was in its fourth.

Despite the innovations, “China Beach” has proved to be a ratings disaster this season. When it aired Saturdays at 9 p.m., opposite longtime NBC sitcom hits “The Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest,” it averaged about 6.2 million households per episode, about 12% of the available audience. It ranks 98th among the 123 prime-time series to have aired on the four networks this season.

Last season, when “China Beach” was usually scheduled Wednesdays at 10 p.m., it finished 62nd among 111 shows, with an average 21% share of the audience. Robert Picardo, who portrays surgeon Dick Richard, believes better ratings would have meant more than just a longer run for “China Beach.”


So 6 million viewers an episode is way lower than TP again, which averaged 10-12 towards the end of Season 2 and a couple of episodes where it dropped to 7.4/7.9, and a few in the 8s and 9s.

I can't follow the numbers beyond that - it said it ranked 98 out of 123, and TP was 85 out of 89, but the former must be out of all shows, and the latter out of just ABC shows or shows in that timeslot or what? So I wonder where CB was in the 89 figure, must have been lower than TP so it must have been 86-89 if TP was 85 (for that episode anyway).
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I think this is probably the best source for season-average ratings: https://library.uoregon.edu/sites/defau ... lmanac.pdf

China Beach is #107, seven slots below TP.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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That's a great resource, thanks. CB is at 6 on it which corresponds with the 6 million an episode mentioned in the article, but TP at 7 seems a little low considering that 7 only applies to two episodes and the rest were mostly 11-12 or 8-9, but I'm not sure how they calculate that.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 2:37 pm That's a great resource, thanks. CB is at 6 on it which corresponds with the 6 million an episode mentioned in the article, but TP at 7 seems a little low considering that 7 only applies to two episodes and the rest were mostly 11-12 or 8-9, but I'm not sure how they calculate that.
It was all bullshit anyway.

Nielsen had no way to capture the large audience that were videotaping the show.

Plus the Twin Peaks fans...we spent money! I know, because I was fan, and always broke because of all the money I spent frivolously.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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mtwentz wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 3:01 pm
Jonah wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 2:37 pm That's a great resource, thanks. CB is at 6 on it which corresponds with the 6 million an episode mentioned in the article, but TP at 7 seems a little low considering that 7 only applies to two episodes and the rest were mostly 11-12 or 8-9, but I'm not sure how they calculate that.
It was all bullshit anyway.

Nielsen had no way to capture the large audience that were videotaping the show.

Plus the Twin Peaks fans...we spent money! I know, because I was fan, and always broke because of all the money I spent frivolously.
Network TV was all about selling advertising space. Famously, it’s how soap operas got their name (narrative shmarrative, the main objective was moving product). The Nielsens were a way to show advertisers that more eyeballs would be on X show as opposed to Y competing show. ABC had zero incentive to back an artistically ambitious show unless it was a boffo success. As opposed to Showtime/Netflix/HBO/etc. these days, who can afford to take chances on critical darlings for prestige. ABC didn’t give a shit about prestige, they just wanted a profit. Not their fault, that’s what the business model was.

And advertisers HATED people who taped the show, because people who watch on video fast-forward the commercials! There were whole Senate hearings on this back in the day. Even if there had been a way to tally those numbers, no one would have been interested. It would have gone against the entire point of what the Nielsens were set up to accomplish.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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It's a shame networks cancel shows so quickly in general. I understand in certain circumstance, especially if a show's quality is pretty bad, but in most cases, if you've a decent show (or much more than decent in the case of TP), even if the ratings are down, you should do something to wrap it up - give the creators one more season to bring it to a close, or even a half-season, or a movie, something. I know in some circumstances this happens, but in most it doesn't, especially back then it didn't happen for older shows. They rarely got a chance to wrap things up. (Plus the writers often ended things on cliffhangers on purpose hoping the network would renew them. I'm not sure this ever worked though, did it? Like why would a network care if a cliffhanger - or several cliffhangers - was unresolved if the ratings were down enough that they'd decided to cancel. Sure, it might ignite a letter writing campaign, but in most cases they don't work so the cliffhangers just frustrate the audience more than anything, they don't make much difference to the network.)
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Jonah wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 4:23 pm It's a shame networks cancel shows so quickly in general. I understand in certain circumstance, especially if a show's quality is pretty bad, but in most cases, if you've a decent show (or much more than decent in the case of TP), even if the ratings are down, you should do something to wrap it up - give the creators one more season to bring it to a close, or even a half-season, or a movie, something. I know in some circumstances this happens, but in most it doesn't, especially back then it didn't happen for older shows. They rarely got a chance to wrap things up. (Plus the writers often ended things on cliffhangers on purpose hoping the network would renew them. I'm not sure this ever worked though, did it? Like why would a network care if a cliffhanger - or several cliffhangers - was unresolved if the ratings were down enough that they'd decided to cancel. Sure, it might ignite a letter writing campaign, but in most cases they don't work so the cliffhangers just frustrate the audience more than anything, they don't make much difference to the network.)
To be honest, most of the time fans hate how a show ends even when it is carefully planned out. Look at Lost, Sopranos, Seinfeld, Game of Thrones...

And we waited 25 years to get a 'proper ending' for Twin Peaks, and fans still weren't happy.

There is a myth of a 'proper ending' in a continuing series, and I think we need to shatter that myth. The best part of these shows is almost always toward the middle part and most shows have run out of gas by the time they wrap up.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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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. ;)
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Twin Peaks is widely considered one of the best and most influential television shows ever produced. It ranked at number seventeen in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Best Television shows of all time in 2016. It also made the list on TIME’s 100 Best TV Shows of all time in 2007. It combined various genres, from science fiction to horror to whodunit to soap opera, creating a television smorgasbord. It was a critical and commercial success at first, but a mix of bad luck, poor decisions by network executives and a questionable creative direction led to plummeting ratings and, eventually, cancelation.

It is fair to say that very few, if anybody, would ever receive the opportunity that David Lynch got with Twin Peaks, a show that defied definition and where effect was paramount to story. But it paid off. Twin Peaks became an instant success. The two-hour pilot gained a 22-point rating (which translates to about 34.6 million viewers). It was the most successful episode of a TV show during the 1989-1990 season. Its first regular one-hour episode gained ABC’s highest rating in its timeslot in four years with a 16.2 rating (23.2 million viewers).

Although the show lost viewers over the course of the season, it was still considered a hit. Nonetheless, frustration began to build among executives and producers, although for different reasons. While executives lamented the drop in ratings, producers questioned the timeslot, going head-to-head with another hit show: Cheers. "The show is being banged around on Thursday night. If ABC had put it on Wednesday night it could have built on its initial success. ABC has put the show at risk," one executive said. Yet, ratings were still great with the season finale drawing a 12.6 rating (18.7 million viewers). Renewing the show for another season was a no-brainer.

But the honeymoon soon ended. ABC pushed for a conclusion of the Laura Palmer murder mystery that had been the main storyline since the pilot, while Lynch and Mark Frost, the other co-creator, had intended to leave the mystery unresolved. Lynch directed the episode before departing the show. The episode would mark the last highpoint, with 17.2 million viewers. After that, the ratings took a hard fall, bottoming out at 7.4 million viewers for the third-to-last episode.

There are several reasons as to why Twin Peaks met its downfall. First, the driving mystery of the show had been resolved, and the storylines and characters took increasingly bizarre turns. At the same time, the network began maneuvering the show from its Thursday timeslot to Saturdays, much to the dissatisfaction of its producers. "We're looking forward to having Twin Peaks on any night but Saturday. Our fans have proven it's not a Saturday night show," a spokesman told the New York Times in February 1991. The show had been put on an “indefinite hiatus,” 16 episodes into Season 2, with six more episodes scheduled. The fact that the show was often pre-empted by coverage of the Gulf War was also not helpful.

Mark Frost told Entertainment Weekly a month later that "[o]ur audience doesn't stay home on Saturdays […] We'd like to be on a weeknight — that gives people a chance to talk about it the next day at the office."

The show resumed on March 28 and ran until April 18 for another four episodes. The two-part season finale aired on June 10, 1991, and was, once again, directed by the returning David Lynch.


The above is taken from:
https://www.cbr.com/why-twin-peaks-ende ... 20produced.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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I was also reading about a show called "Under Cover" that was cancelled around the same time by ABC and apparently the show's ratings were affected by the Gulf War in 1991 too. A cynical part of me wonders if the network used the war as an excuse to pre-empt or cancel some shows, but it definitely did affect a lot of them.
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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Was TP ever actually preempted due to war coverage? I know Mark has claimed it was, and people on Usenet were grousing about it POTENTIALLY being preempted. But I did not come across any posts from the era actually saying that it was preempted at any point (not that I read through everything). Was there actually a scheduled episode that didn’t air due to news coverage?
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Re: Why exactly did ABC treat the show so badly?

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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 have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
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