We watch... so you don't have to.
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
Wonder no more: TeeVee has provided you with a
step-by-step guide to conducting a successful
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
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
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
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!