Tiffany Vogt

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“Did BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’s Rabid Fandom Seal its Show’s Fate?”

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Opinion columns, Beauty and the Beast (CW) on March 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm


"Beauty and the Beast"

“Beauty and the Beast”

Ignorance of how the television world works is usually forgivable.  But this year, TV shows with savvy fans thrived; whereas, television shows with ignorant fans suffered.  One good example is the CW’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Wrong Demo

From day one, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had a huge hurdle to overcome: it was a show based on romance.  Sure there was the hero with genetically-mutated genes who could partially transform into a beast when his hormones raged out of control; but the essence of the story was a romance between the woman who loved the beast and how they would do anything for each other.

It was a TV show that was hard to sell to advertisers as it was clearly ear-marked for a young female fanbase with little to offer male viewers.  Unfortunately, due to the casting of 30 year old actors in the show, it failed to land even the young teen female viewers who deemed its leads too old.  That audience went fleeing instead to the greener pastures of younger casted TV shows or shows that were more relatable to their generation.

So BEAUTY AND THE BEAST limped through its first season with modest ratings, mostly skewing towards a 35-49 year old female demo, which is less valuable to advertisers who will pay higher ad dollars for 13-34 year old viewers, simply because they are so elusive and harder to reach.

Loss of Audience Retention

In addition, in its second season, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST then lost 50% of the audience it had managed to carve out in its first year by eschewing its strong, core romance and separating its lead characters through various frustrating obstacles.

See my previous article: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: The Curse of The Sophomore Slump?

“Live” Viewers vs. DVR Viewers

Another fatal flaw was that the remainder of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’s viewing audience was dominated by those who did not understand what “live” viewing meant versus DVR-viewing.  The bulk of its remaining fans assumed that watching the show on the same night via a DVR was equal to “live” viewing.  And that’s where an uneducated, un-television savvy viewership really hurts a TV show.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST not only alienated half its viewership in its second season, its remaining fanbase was woefully ignorant of how things worked in the television world.  “Live” ratings is when a viewer watches a TV show without the aid of a DVR.  It forces the viewer to watch every single commercial without the option of skipping it.

Time and time again, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans (who proudly called themselves “Beasties” – someone really needs to tell these folks how many negative connotations go with that particular moniker) proclaimed that their show had one of the highest DVR-lifts of any show on television.  That is not something to be proud of when your TV show is pulling in less than one million “live” viewers a week.

DVR-ratings only reflect delayed viewership; accordingly, DVR-viewers are rated at a significantly lower value when it comes to advertising dollars.  For example, a “live” viewer may be worth $1.00 each, but a DVR-viewer may be only worth $0.05.  So DVR-viewers are only noteworthy, and not as really contributing towards the profitability or economic-viability of a television show.

This is a huge factor for a network or studio in determining whether a television show is worthwhile to continue or should be canceled to make way for a show that can carry its weight and pull in advertising dollars.

Failure to Pair

Another huge misstep in its second season was the pairing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with HART OF DIXIE.  Based on both shows’ previous year storylines, it made perfect sense from the outset — as both shows favored strong romantic storylines.

Unfortunately, during the 2013-14 television season, HART OF DIXIE decided to downplay its romance and focus on its small town comedy; and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST decided shed its romantic-focus to try to crank up its dramatic element by having a storyline where the main hero had his memory wiped and was turned into a beast-like killing machine.  So BEAUTY AND THE BEAST essentially jettisoned the romance and tried to be a straight action-hero story.

So both shows suffered by being paired with another show that did not appeal to the same audience.

In one last ditch effort to try to find a show that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST could pair with successfully, the CW selected its new series STAR-CROSSED to air with it in the mid-season.  Since STAR-CROSSED offered a very romantic storyline of an alien boy and a human girl falling in love, yet kept apart by warring factions, it stood a strong chance of appealing to the same audience who had stuck with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (those who were hopeful that the show would return to its strong romantic storylines).

Unfortunately, the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were in panic-mode by the time STAR-CROSSED debuted.  Believing that STAR-CROSSED was only one more show that could prevent their show from having a chance at renewal, the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans did everything in their power to send the message that STAR-CROSSED had to be avoided at all costs.  They flamed the fires of anti STAR-CROSSED passions across Twitter and social media.

What the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans failed to see was STAR-CROSSED was its best bet at survival.  Only by showing that fans would “pair” and watch both shows, that the CW would think it had finally found a successful television block to add to their upcoming Fall 2014-15 schedule.

Since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had failed twice at “pairing” with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES in its first season and HART OF DIXIE in its second season, STAR-CROSSED was its last chance to prove it could “pair” with another show.

Alas, that was not to be simply because the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans failed to see how “pairing” may save their show.

(Fortunately for STAR-CROSSED, it was given a second chance to “pair” with the CW series THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, and it paired with quite nicely with it.  Fans were tuning in for both shows, establishing a solid demo rating and making that “paired” block a strong contender for the Fall season — increasing both shows odds at renewals for their second seasons.)

Twitter Abuse

Yet another terrifying trend amongst ignorant television viewers is how to use social media.  The BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were boastful of their ability to trend on Twitter every Monday night when their show aired, or whenever they deemed it an appropriate time to inundate Twitter with their trending campaigns.

But passion and slavish devotion to trending does not equate to advertising dollars.  Ad buyers only look at “live” viewership, which guarantees that their product commercials are being seen and perhaps may influence a viewer to buy/use their product.

Studios and networks may take note of Twitter trending to assess how engaged viewers are during a “live” airing of a TV show, but Twitter trending does not equate to ad dollars or direct revenue.

So Twitter trending is only a boast-worthy mark of a TV show.  What made the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans’ Twitter trending so terrifying was how they chose to use it as a destructive tool.

They not only began the campaigns to destroy STAR-CROSSED before its premiere by vowing to not watch it and encouraging the rest of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans to do the same; once STAR-CROSSED did begin to air, they deliberately scheduled their Twitter trending efforts to take place during each STAR-CROSSED television broadcast airing in an effort to undermine STAR-CROSSED’s efforts to trend and demonstrate that it was establishing its own strong fanbase.

Astoundingly, once BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was on hiatus for an indefinitely break, its fans thought it was their god-given right to still claim Monday nights as their night to wreak havoc with their Twitter campaigns.  Unfortunately, they were not content to only trend during the now-vacated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST timeslot (which had been 9 pm on Monday nights), they moved up into the STAR-CROSSED timeslot (8 pm on Monday nights) in an effort to actively destroy STAR-CROSSED’s ability to trend during its own airings.

It was even more stunning to see that one of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stars, Austin Basis, encouraged these destructive Twitter trending campaigns and flamed the passions of the Beasties into waging war against STAR-CROSSED, by merely saying that there was nothing wrong with a little competition and protesting:  if not Monday nights at 8 pm, then when?   (Answer: Maybe a day/time when it was more likely to be noticed favorably and not seen as a poorly chosen weapon by desperate fans.)

This poor Twitter conduct was hurtful in several ways.  For one, both BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and STAR-CROSSED are owned by CBS, then sold to the CW.  They are sister-shows from the same studio and air on the same network.  CBS has just as much to lose if one or both shows fails to get picked up, as does the CW, which will then have to see if it can successfully launch two new shows – which in the current television climate has become increasingly difficult to do.  There is less risk with renewal than with launching new shows.  Thus, both networks and studios tend favor renewal if there is an established, solid fanbase for a TV show.

Second, it illustrates how vicious, negative and entirely self-serving the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were.  They were not interested in the economics of what makes a television show successful and appealing to a broadcast network and advertisers, they were only interested in proving that their favorite show was the only show worthy of their slavish devotion.  But devotion does not equate into dollars.  Ad buyers/networks are looking for committed viewers who will not just tune in for one TV show a night, but will stick around and keep watching subsequent shows and give the advertiser a second chance at capturing their attention.

Advertisers also need to know that such television fans will not bail at the first sign that a TV show is not living up to their dictated-mandates of storylines.  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans have proven not only will they bail when they are dissatisfied with the storylines or characters, but they are a fanbase willing to use hostile, negative means to achieve their personal goals.

No advertisers wants to be associated with a fanbase known for such poor attitudes or ethics.  Advertisers want to be associated with fans that can be held up as exemplary citizens.   For example, just like Justin Bieber or celebrities from “Duck Dynasty” can alienate sponsors and advertisers with their outlandish behavior and unflattering opinions, so can television fanbases scare off advertisers.

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fanbase has established itself as two things:  (1) fickle and (2) destructive.

No advertiser finds those attributes attractive.  It’s bad enough that the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans do not fit into the most desirable age demograph, but to have such negative connotations associated with them, just sends advertisers fleeing in another direction.

This is how the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fandom slit its own throat.  Ignorance of how the business world, advertising world, and the television world works is no excuse.  Similarly, there is no excuse for poor conduct in public forums.  It has put itself in a poor light and marked the TV show they want to save for death.

Television viewers cannot afford to be so blindly ignorant anymore.  If they want to save a TV show, they must understand how to be a positive influence and appeal to advertisers.  Ignorance is no excuse.


[NOTE: This article was removed from today after my editor received numerous death threats and threats of bodily harm. Should any such threats continue, they will be reported to the FBI and any other appropriate law enforcement agency.]

TV NOW: The Increasing Demand for Wish-Fulfillment in Television

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Opinion columns, * TV Addict on December 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm


Television viewers are an interesting breed. Since its inception decades ago, television has been a way to escape our everyday lives and experience a different world. It can provide a mirror to reflect back on society around us and our place amongst it; or it can be a looking-glass to see the world as it actually is in the far corners that we cannot explore ourselves. Whatever it is used for, television is a great escape.

Modernly, an interesting trend has emerged: the need for “wish-fulfillment.” Viewers are turning to their televisions not only to be engaged and intrigued, but also to find a bit of peace and happiness that remains elusive in our everyday lives. They find it reassuring to see the bad guys caught and prosecuted, villains get their comeuppance, and heroes get happy endings. Yet incongruously, at the same time, the past decade has seen the rise of the anti-hero, which challenged viewers to be flexible in who is the villain and who is the hero, and what exactly is a happy ending for them.

Two recent television shows make good examples of how these diametrically opposed yearnings are in conflict, and the outrage and confusion it subsequently inspires: DEXTER and SONS OF ANARCHY. Both shows have strong anti-hero themes and require that their viewers embrace a bit of moral flexibility in order to root for classically villainous characters. In DEXTER’s case, viewers are rooting for a serial killer – albeit one with a code that demands that he only kill other killers. Then in the case of SONS OF ANARCHY, it provided an entire club of anti-heroes who are vicious, ruthless and relentlessly self-serving in achieving their personal goals. But somehow, by sheer audacity in asking their audiences to unflinchingly support these atypical heroes, viewers fell under the spell of the carefully crafted characters in both shows. Yet this year, there was quite a bit of outrage amongst fans simply because these characters that they have grown to love have not lived up to the fans’ expectations of wish-fulfillment.

Many thought that in the series finale that DEXTER had ended badly. They did not like the idea of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) faking his own death and then creating a new life all by himself in the Pacific Northwest. Some were rooting for Dexter to be caught and to have a glorious death; and then others were secretly rooting for Dexter to escape and join his soulmate Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) with his son Harrison in Argentina. Yet, this is what is curious. DEXTER from the beginning was not destined for a “happily ever after” ending. The threat of being caught was always looming and it would have been a fitting end for a serial killer, even one with a heart of gold. So it makes perfect sense that Dexter would have a contingency plan, that he would have foreseen the day he would need to fake his death and start again – in the last place anyone would ever look for him. Fleeing the country was too obvious, and to be found with Hannah McKay (another serial killer) would have made them doubly easy to track eventually. A “happily ever after” scenario was just never in the stars for Dexter Morgan, and he planned accordingly. Besides, who is to say that after a few years of hiding in the back woods that Dexter would not tire of his solitary existence and find his way back to the beaches of Argentina and reunite with Hannah and Harrison? It could happen. There just might be a “happily ever after” out there for Dexter if he chooses to pursue it. We just won’t see it. Our journey with Dexter ended with his faked death. His ties with Miami Metro were forever severed with the death of the one person who kept him there for all those years – his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). After all, a serial killer can work anywhere. Working alongside Deb just made it easy and fun for him. Without her, he was unfettered and free to go anywhere and he didn’t want to take his son with him into that darkness. It was Dexter’s way of giving his son a chance at a better life: a wish for his son. Thus, DEXTER was answering the need for wish-fulfillment in a different way: by answering Dexter’s wish, not the audience’s. Fortunately, the writers granted that wish for him.

As to SONS OF ANARCHY, the show has not yet ended yet. With one more season left, it still could conceivably end on a happy ending. But, for many fans, the chance of a happy ending was ripped away with the plunge of a fork as Gemma (Katey Sagal) killed Tara (Maggie Siff) in the Season 6 finale. There is no happily-ever-ever awaiting Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) now. With the death of his best friend Opie (Ryan Hurst) in Season 5 and now Tara, Jax’s blissful vision of the future has been forever destroyed. Yet, for those who were paying attention, creator Kurt Sutter never promised a happy ending. In fact, he has stated time and time again that he modeled the show on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” which ended very tragically as well. But fans are just in shock and bereaved. They are not quite ready to fully embrace the idea that Season 7 could bring the death of Jax Teller, which would bookend the series perfectly in fitting with the Shakespeare story is was inspired by. What is even more crazy is that the fans somehow bought into the idea that there could ever be a happy ending waiting at the end of the SAMCRO rainbow. The lives they lead is hand in hand with death and destruction. It is a 7-part tragedy playing out in perfect precision. It was the audience that has fooled itself into believing that the traditional happy ending was within Jax’s grasp. Their strong desire for wish-fulfillment fooled them. SONS OF ANARCHY was always destined to be a tragedy. There was no trickery involved.

Yet over and over, we see this strong desire by fans for happy endings. They believe that because they have devoted years of their time in supporting and watching a television show that they are entitled to a happily-ever-after ending. It is an increasingly burdensome expectation that television shows struggle to meet. But there in lay the fallacy – some stories were never meant to have happy endings. Would Shakespeare be as popular as he is today if he had only told stories with happy endings? Much of classic literature are tragedies.

Joss Whedon is famously known for having said that he creates characters only to torture them endlessly. Interpreting that, are we to understand that happy characters are thought to be dull, listless and boring, and it is only through conflict, loss and despair that stories can be told? Maybe not all stories, but some stories. It is just a matter of figuring out what kind of story one has signed on for. Not every story has a happy ending; yet television audiences seem to crave them now more than ever.

But is satisfying viewers’ desire for wish-fulfillment really necessary? Is television about granting wishes or about telling compelling stories — some of which that will haunt us for years to come? Certainly much of television today strives very hard to give the viewers exactly what they want. They will bend over backwards to tell their stories in such ways to make the fans happy. It is after all how to keep a TV show on the air, by giving in to fan demands; and giving viewers what they want can be a sound business strategy. Shows like NCIS, LAW & ORDER, ER and even the long-running SUPERNATURAL have all adopted this strategy and it sells very well. It ensured their longevity.

Yet for other television shows, they cannot compromise their creative vision just because the fans crave wish-fulfillment. Would BREAKING BAD have been as exemplary and memorable series if it had ended with Walter White (Bryan Cranston) surviving? Would LOST have been as galvanizing and remembered if it had ended with a classic happy ending and everyone was rescued from that cursed island? Would SEINFELD be hailed as one of the greatest comedies of all time if its characters had ended their journey any place other than a jail cell reflecting on their crimes against humanity? Not every show can end with their characters married and living white-picket-fence lives in its final scene. Some shows demand that they kill off their characters, one-by-one, classic Agatha Christie style, just to see who remains in the end and why.

But in doing so, a show may have less time to grace a television screen as fans seeking wish-fulfillment turn their attention to shows that feed their addiction to happy endings. Thus, fans have a difficult choice to make: to set aside their innate wish-fulfillment desires and enjoy the ride; or to turn the channel. It is just sad to see that so many are opting for the second choice. And just how many wishes can television grant without compromising its own soul? We can only hope that more TV shows hold tenaciously out for telling the story they want to tell. For while wish fulfillment guarantees a paycheck; by eschewing it, a legacy will be born.

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DOCTOR WHO: Is Matt Smith the 13th Doctor?

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Opinion columns, * Sci-fi columns, * Showcases, * TV Addict, Doctor Who on November 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

After this past weekend’s phenomenal 50th anniversary DOCTOR WHO special “The Day of the Doctor,” which clarified that John Hurt’s portrayal of The Doctor was indeed one of thirteen regenerations, wild speculations arose as to whether Matt Smith could actually be the 13th Doctor. In fact, the Blastr article: “Confused? Moffat addresses all those Who regeneration limit questions” offered an intriguing analysis based on executive producer Steven Moffat’s recent statements in support of the theory.

With DOCTOR WHO spanning 50 years, it has been tricky to track all the regenerations. But when examined in detail, Matt Smith as the 13th Doctor theory holds up. Here are the known regenerations of The Doctor:

1st regeneration = William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton
2nd regeneration = Patrick Troughton to Jon Pertwee
3rd regeneration = Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker
4th regeneration = Tom Baker to Peter Davison
5th regeneration = Peter Davison to Colin Baker
6th regeneration = Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy
7th regeneration = Sylvester McCoy to Paul McGann
8th regeneration = Paul McGann to John Hurt
9th regeneration = John Hurt to Christopher Eccleston
10th regeneration = Christopher Eccleston to David Tennant
11th regeneration = David Tennant (used up another regeneration in “Journey’s End”)
12th regeneration = David Tennant to Matt Smith

This essentially makes Matt Smith’s version the 13th Doctor – the last Doctor – since The Doctor cannot regeneration more than 12 times.

So if The Doctor dies with Matt Smith’s departure from the series, whom will Peter Capaldi be playing? It seems improbable that he can be The Doctor that we know and love. He would have to be portraying a different Time Lord. And, as we now know, there are lots of Time Lords left after Hurt, Tennant and Smith’s Doctors all worked together to perpetuate a subterfuge by moving Gallifrey and all the Time Lords into a frozen space of time during the great Time War with the Daleks. So, because Matt Smith’s Doctor did not have his memories wiped like Hurt and Tennant’s Doctors, he is the only one who remembers what they did. As he declared in “The Day of the Doctor,” “I have a new destination — the same as anyone’s — at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going: home — the long way ’round!” It becomes his final quest to find and retrieve Gallifrey.

It has not yet been revealed if the upcoming Christmas special entitled “The Time of the Doctor” will be an adventure in Gallifrey or the search for Gallifrey, but that is a journey that The Doctor seemed determined to embark upon. So what if The Doctor’s final journey is disrupted and his time runs out? Would he not recruit another Time Lord with the duty of finding Gallifrey? Is that who Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is? He is the replacement Doctor because our Doctor’s time is simply up? Twelve regenerations is a finite number. It is one that even Steven Moffat has declared is canon that cannot be changed.

The death of The Doctor has been foreshadowed for nearly the entirety of Moffat’s tenure, and it would be fitting bookend to Matt Smith’s tenure to allow The Doctor to die with his departure. It makes perfect sense then that they would recruit as a new Doctor, a Time Lord that we have not met before to complete The Doctor’s final journey – to find Gallifrey. It is a journey that could last many seasons or could be resolved in a blink of an eye. Moffat likes to be twisty that way.

It would also fit with the choice to cast an older actor for a role that has been getting progressively younger in recent years. It would help differentiate between Matt Smith’s Doctor, the young Doctor who is dying, versus the older Time Lord that Peter Capaldi will be portraying. It makes sense if he is portraying a Time Lord who agrees to pick up the mantle and legacy of our Doctor. One could even speculate that the only other Time Lord still running amuck in the universe is the Master – since all the others are still frozen in Gallifrey. So perhaps Capaldi’s Doctor is the Master who has been recruited by Smith’s Doctor to continue the name of The Doctor and the quest to find Gallifrey.

This is all wild speculations, but given what we know and how clever Steven Moffat likes to be, this would be just the kind of surprise he would love to spring upon us. With less than 30 days ‘til Christmas, what a wonderful Christmas gift this would be!

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