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So You Want To Save A Television Show

Say! Got a television show you'd like to see returned to the airwaves? Wondering what you can do to make sure television executives listen to you, the common viewer who recognizes television quality when you see it?

Wonder no more: TeeVee has provided you with a step-by-step guide to conducting a successful return-my-show-to-the-airwaves campaign.

Step One: Recruit the Underemployed
Your campaign is going to take plenty of time, so be sure to find campaign staffers who have nothing better to do. We suggest using brain-damaged high school students, bored housewives and shut-ins. Don't know any shut-ins? Consider making friends with prison inmates! They have plenty of free time on their hands, and you might get an award for community outreach. Just be sure to bring lots of cigarettes when you're making your new friends.

Step Two: Build a Web site
And remember -- it doesn't matter if the web site is good, so long as it's up there. All your web site has to do is show how incredibly devoted you are to the show. Nobody's going to care about your spelling or site design, because the purity of your argument will transcend silly things like factual data or compelling reasoning.

Step Three: Begin Compiling Media Contacts
Your best friend is the junior class editor for the yearbook? Recruit her in your crusade! You found a list of television critics through the Columbia Journalism Review? Add them all to your mailing list. A bunch of different Web sites have mentioned your show once in the past year? Sign them all up too. Everybody who writes is an all-powerful member of The Media. Be sure to enlist them all in your struggle for un-cancellation, regardless of what they write or who they write for.

Step Four: Craft the Perfect Plea
Remember, you're going to be e-mailing television journalists to ask them to save a television show. Be sure to give a lot of background information about the show, since they've probably never heard of it. Also, be sure to demonize the network -- all journalists love it when you set up your quest as a David vs. Goliath combat. Develop elaborate theories as to why the show failed: accusing the network of poor marketing is a good one, especially if your only experience with marketing has been as the target demographic for something. Next, emphasize how much you, as a television watcher, love the show. Talk about how much it's affected you personally -- strangers love to hear stories about plucky television show crusaders. Finally, plead for the media to do something -- anything! -- to embarrass the network brass.

Step Five: Fact-check the Perfect Plea
Although some people may insist that using evidence based on observable, repeatable phenomenon -- you know, "facts" -- can only bolster an argument, those people are wrong. Facts are the enemy. They can be used to refute your argument -- showing, for example, that there's no direct relationship between the amount of time spent marketing a show and its Nielsen ratings, or pointing out that your show got walloped in the ratings by "Satan's School for Girls." Therefore, stick to amorphous syllogisms. Don't know what that means? Then clearly you're perfect for writing crusade e-mail for cancelled shows.

Step Six: Edit the Perfect Plea
Reread your letter. You probably don't have enough SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS OR EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!! In addition, you may have made the fatal mistake of using a rational argument: don't bother pointing out that a low-rated show can recoup money in syndication if it's got the timeless appeal of a St. Elsewhere. Don't bother mentioning that some of the shows most commonly thought of as good for their genre -- Hill Street Blues, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond -- got off to lukewarm starts. Don't even try for a persuasive argument based on the show's merits. Just focus on TELLING PEOPLE HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THE CANCELLED SHOW. That's all that matters.

Step Seven: Send Everyone Your Plea
Now that you've checked your e-mail and made sure that it has a 2:1 ratio of capital letters to lowercase ones, it's time to send it to everyone. Yup, everyone, from network execs to newspaper critics to a bunch of wags running a Web site. Don't bother reading anyone's work to see whether or not they've already come over to your side. Don't bother reading the newspapers or Web sites, period. You don't have time to read! You don't have time to send individual letters! Whether or not an email message is appropriate for its recipient is less important than following your leaders' directions and e-mailing as many people as possible. You need to email people first, think about whether or not Tim Goodman wants to receive the same email as Scott Sassa later!

Step Eight: Have All Your Friends Send the Same Carefully-Crafted Plea
Nothing hammers home the message like reading it twenty or thirty times. Be sure to have everyone you know send identical messages to the same email addresses. Real overachievers will want to send the same message six or seven times, just to make sure the intended recipient got it. Keep on e-mailing people, just in case they have thus far failed to jump on your bandwagon.

Step Nine: Never, Ever Give Up
You're on a quest. Everything you do is blameless and holy, so don't let angry e-mail get to you. Don't let insurmountable evidence against your cause get you down. Feel free to justify sending woefully incongruous email to anyone you want -- times are tough and you need to recruit by any means necessary. Remember, grammar, spelling and courtesy will only slow you down, so don't use them.

Step Ten: Repeat Steps One Through Nine
Even if your show never does make it back on the air, you've learned some valuable skills. You've now exchanged email with real journalists! You've made your voice heard. Now go on and try to save another show, you plucky protestor! There's LOTS OF E-MAILS to write!


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