BLOG The Bitter End

SFX blogger Steven Ellis agonises over the pain of watching a show when you know it’s been cancelled

So, both Caprica and Stargate: Universe returned to our UK screens recently after they disappeared before Christmas with the promise of a return in the New Year. In the off-air time both shows have been cancelled in the States, so these runs will be their last. I’m a fan of both shows so I tuned in on their returns but with the news of their cancellation I find myself not overly bothered about watching them anymore.

It’s not that I don’t like them, I enjoyed both shows very much and I thought both were getting better and better as they progressed. The two shows have returned with very strong opening episodes; but the knowledge that both are going to be cut off in their prime bothers me; it’s a desire not to get involved again with the characters knowing that the cliffhanger endings will be forever unresolved. Saying that, I’m told the makers of Caprica did have time to tack on a sort of resolution for their characters but I’m sure it’s not what they wanted and it won’t be a very satisfying end knowing it was forced.

Losing shows I love before their time has happened to me before, but back then I had way less information than I have today. Having a show I enjoyed and characters I loved end on a cliffhanger and then finding out that the cliffhanger will never be resolved usually happened after I’d watched said cliffhanger. The unresolved demise of Dark Skies , Now And Again (Eric Close didn’t have much luck with shows in the ’90s) and Space: Above And Beyond still leave a sour taste in my mouth. Thank God Farscape got the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries to resolve its ending and give it a worthy finalé.

These days it’s different: shows are being broadcast within days of their US release or at the very least within a few months, and with the amount of information on the internet we know a lot more about shows a lot sooner. We can go into a show knowing more: we know how a show is fairing in the US in ways we didn’t used to know. If we see an advert for a new show, or hear about it in SFX or on a website we can immediately find more info about it.

There seems to be more and more fantasy and sci-fi shows being produced at the moment but at the same time these shows have less and less time to prove themselves, so we are more likely to find ourselves watching a show that’s destined to be cancelled before its time. When a show ends with a cliff-hanger I find myself scouring the internet for news of that show being picked-up for a new season. The fate of Fringe has been a particular worry to me of late but it’s secured another season so I can breathe a sight of relief.

Being in the UK we have no control over the fates of these shows. Caprica and SG:U both got cancelled while they were off our screens on mid-season breaks. It doesn’t matter if I watch them now. They’re gone. I can’t affect that. If I didn’t know Caprica and SG:U had been cancelled would I still watch them? Yes. But now knowing they got cancelled, I find that I’m not bothered and I probably won’t see them through to the end. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I’m knowingly not watching new episodes of sci-fi shows that I love. Will missing out on these shows be less bothersome than having a few more unresolved cliff-hangers in my head? Or should I just watch them anyway? I don’t know. I guess it’s just that with a little more knowledge about shows I can be a little more discerning in what I chose to watch. I can decide if it’s worth investing in a show or not before I take the plunge.
I wonder if I’m alone in this. Is anyone else out there not bothering with shows after learning of their cancellation, or are you watching anyway?