I'm rather embarrassed today to be a Supernatural fan. After the CW upfront presentation this morning, I went to various boards for some fair minded reaction to the new schedule. Sure, I usually limit my viewing of the network to Thursdays and have no interest in checking out their girl power teen shows, so any criticism I see of the CW is usually fair. It's the bimbo network three days a week. Still, all I saw today were Supernatural fans unfairly bitching and spewing things about the show and the network that aren't necessarily true. So here I go, unable to control my overwhelming urges to set the record straight.
The following addresses the three most common comments I read on the boards today.
Misconception #1 - Season Five is Supernatural's last season.
This is NOT Supernatural's last season. Stop saying that! There has been no formal announcement from The CW, Warner Brothers, or the show itself that this is the final season. Get over it. Just because the show was originally on a five year plan (which I hear is no longer the case) and fans want the show to go out with a bang doesn't mean it's gonna happen.
Network TV doesn't work like that. You think Smallville fans ever imagined season nine? Millar and Gough too were going to end that show at season five. They didn't. You think Dick Wolf visualized 20 seasons of Law and Order? Often times things happen that are quite different from original intentions. The only way Supernatural will end at the end of season five is if The CW goes under. The EW article proclaiming the show MIGHT end after season five (keyword MIGHT) skewed some facts and used a misleading slant. If it's anyone's last season, itâ€™s Eric Kripke's. Jared and Jensen are contracted through six, and so is Misha. A producer doesnâ€™t end a show. The network does.
As a matter of fact, looking at the network's long term strategy (yes, they have one), don't be surprised if Supernatural is on for THREE more seasons. You heard me. Season seven. But I'm really jumping the gun there.
Misconception #2 - Supernatural will die without a strong lead in.
Huh? This one puzzles me. Supernatural does not need a lead in to keep viewers. The show has one of the most fiercely loyal fanbases in television history. Fans will watch not matter when its on and what's paired with it.
If anything, live ratings will go down and DVR usage will increase. For one, that's been the trend of all network shows in the last few years. Second, Fringe joins the mix on Thursdays at 9 pm. More crowded means more DVR. People will watch, just maybe not right at 9 pm.
Remember in season three, when "Jus In Bello" was paired with a rerun of "Nightshifter?" "Jus In Bello" ended up being the highest rated episode of the season. "Nightshifter" drew more viewers than many of first run episodes of other shows. If that doesn't prove that Supernatural fans will watch when the show is on (and without Smallville), I don't know what will.
Misconception #3 - Dawn Ostroff, President of The CW, is out to get Supernatural.
This one gets me the most, for saying such things makes fans seem paranoid and sometimes stupid. I'm easily one of Dawn Ostroff's harshest critics, and have spewed several explicatives at the mention of her name, but even I know she doesn't have a personal vendetta against Supernatural. She certainly hasn't been its biggest supporter either, but she's never marked it for death.
Ms. Ostroff has about the crappiest job in the world. She has to keep afloat a hapless network that was thrown together by two corporate parents as an after thought. They are not committed to making The CW a contender, and she often has to appease two warring conglomerates who rarely see eye to eye.
The strategy devised by Ms. Ostroff seems pretty lame for a network. They only want to build shows for 18-35 year old women. So far that strategy has hardly proved to be a cash cow and cuts off chances at long term growth. The network still continues to bleed red ink. Still given the limitations her superiors have given her, that's the only strategy they've got to survive. Even though its not a great one, Ms. Ostroff runs with it and has remained committed to that focus threw thick and thin.
The fact remains though that from a business sense, Supernatural (and Smallville)
work well for the network and by airing appeases Warner Brothers who makes money on both shows. Ms. Ostroff is not about to mess with something financially that isn't broken and brings eyeballs to the network. She also doesn't have to put money toward promoting aging veterans either because they come with built in fan bases. She let Friday Night Smackdown go because the WWE charged too much for a licensing fee and attracted viewers that wouldn't watch her network's other shows. It didn't make good business sense.
A golden rule with any network on television large or small (even cable) is that older shows should be used to build up newer shows' audiences. The success of the newer shows is crucial for the survival of the network and when paired with older shows will attract people to watch. The Mentalist for CBS got a following because the NCIS viewers stuck around to watch it. The CW picked up pilots this year that would specifically be good fits with existing shows. So while I think a Melrose Place reboot is a very bad idea, when paired with the 90210 reboot, its not as dumb an idea as it looks. I still won't watch, but I'm not in the target demographic anyway.
With the exception of Fridays (a repeat after Smallville being a total waste), The CW is sending a signal with their new schedule that they're here to stay. 90210, America's Next Top Model, and yes, Supernatural have been tasked with the job of building the network's future by being paired with new shows.
That doesn't sound like the act of someone that wants to destroy Supernatural. If anything, Dawn Ostroff is putting faith in it. It's about time.
As hard as I've been on Ms. Ostroff, I congratulate her today. This is the best fall schedule The CW has had in terms of flow. Granted, given the torrid history of the network that's not saying much, but it's still a good attempt. It shows she actually cares about the network. That's way more than I can say about Ben Silverman at NBC.
Wow, maybe I'm getting my own reality check. Dawn Ostroff isn't the worst network executive in TV after all. Will wonders ever cease.