The Friday Night Death Slot: Sarah Connor Chronicles & Dollhouse

Published 6 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:07 pm,

tscc 24 group silver 1753 djrv1f The Friday Night Death Slot: Sarah Connor Chronicles & Dollhouse

After its season (series?) finale, The Sarah Connor Chronicles seems to be in a gray area. The ratings for the April 10th finale brought in only 3.6 million viewers. That’s a far cry from its premiere episode that attracted almost 19 million sets of eyeballs. After a lot of conjecture, mostly from watching the ratings drop over the last two years, most feel that the show is looking at its demise.

For reasons that are beyond our own logic, even though TSCC was bringing in an average of over 11 million viewers on Mondays, Fox pretty much set the fate of the show when they moved it to Friday nights. There, in its 2nd season it received an average of 4.7 million viewers.

The above numbers seem to reference all viewers and are from ABC Medianet.  When I look at specific numbers from overnight reports through last season, I saw the following interesting trend:


  • Monday nights: 5.4 million
  • Friday nights: 3.5 million

The show had potential. They were filling in blanks in the mythos that hadn’t been otherwise covered. Sure, many viewers didn’t wrap their minds around the idea of the young Thomas Dekker playing John Connor. It didn’t settle well with me either, but I tried to wrap my mind around it for the sake of the story. If you think about it, John Connor was a little boy at some point in time so I went with that. It worked for me for the most part – and over the course of the show Dekker/Connor DID evolve and grow.

But was the doom of the series that it went down the wrong path? Or was it the movie to Friday nights that doomed it?

As it stands, we have two sides to the developments of whether the show is coming back or not. USA Today says that both Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse have a “thumbs down” for renewal.

He Said, They Said

Though Fox is technically not declaring the show dead, Michael Ausiello from Entertainment Weekly is saying that his sources are telling him that the show is gone and will not be renewed.

TSCC writer Ashley Edward Miller is backing the possible return of Sarah Connor Chronicles by contesting Ausiello’s report. He’s reminding everyone from his Twitter account that Michael said similar things during season one and at one point Ausiello apparently had also reported that the sets were destroyed.

In an interview, Brian Austin Green had let out a bit of what they were looking at for a 3rd season if it does happen. He indicated that season 3 would deal with a bit of an alternate future, where John Connor never existed and Derek was alive. Additionally, Allison (the person Cameron is based on) is still alive.

This worried me. It feels like if they get a 3rd season, they’ve written themselves into a bit of a corner. An alternate time line of an existing franchise that has the momentum it presently does veers the show away from where the movie franchise is. If season 3 does happen, it might be interesting, but I’m thinking that premise WOULD be the end of it.

He also touched on the fact that his taking a role in another show’s pilot episode doesn’t spell doom for TSCC. But I think he’s just being a good company man and putting on a good front.

From what I’ve personally seen when the show runners talked about a season three at Wonder-Con, I didn’t see any energy there. When I add that to the statements I’ve been seeing in the media, I think the show is going down the drain with the Coriolis effect. I may be filling in between the lines here, but no one is saying “it looks good,” or “we are in talks,” or “Fox is changing up our outline.” Any of these would be good clues there’s a shot. But no, I don’t see that.

So I’m predicting that we’ve seen the last of TSCC… and that’s a bummer.


dollhouse 0418 00 The Friday Night Death Slot: Sarah Connor Chronicles & Dollhouse

Keeping with a theme I’ve noticed, it seems that whenever TSCC is mentioned, Dollhouse is dragged into the conversation as well. I can’t let everyone else have all the fun. Literally, if you look at the numbers, they’re in the same boat called Friday Nights on Fox.

The fate of Dollhouse looks similar to that of TSCC but for slightly different reasons.

TSCC started strong and faded hard. Dollhouse started with a mediocre squeak of just under 5 million viewers. It’s been treading water ever since with its odd premise of “actives” and “dolls.” I’m not sure this may be working with the average viewer. Yet Whedon fans are enjoying it mostly because it’s Whedon.

Last week Dollhouse brought in 3.4 million viewers. Is it a victim of Friday nights, subject matter, or having a poor lead-in show that’s already sinking, taking Dollhouse with it? I think it all adds up to a really bad set of circumstances.

Normally, having 3 to 4 million viewers is sub par, but having been relegated to Fridays to keep TSCC company in the dark zone of ratings wasn’t deemed that bad for a Friday night. There’s also the debate about how much Fox changed Dollhouse to make it what they wanted for the first few episodes. The debate goes back and forth.

The important issue is: With the ratings as they are, does Fox give Whedon a second season? Considering they moved them from a prime market night (Mondays) to Friday, I think they owe them that. They owe both shows that – to give them a fighting chance.

As Whedon put it recently:

“Obviously our numbers are pretty soft, and there it is, but we live in hope.”

Can Either Show Improve?

I have to wonder. When we previously reported that Dollhouse and TSCC had better time shifted ratings, it seemed like a hopeful glimmer of continuance. But is it really?

Ratings increased for the delayed viewings by over 30%. That’s a great increase in delayed viewing for a Friday night show. I have to seriously wonder if that is not an unofficial indicator that on any other night, the ratings would be better?

Adding a 30% increase to their latest numbers of viewers would have given TSCC almost 5 million viewers. How would Fox look at the show then if it was bringing in 5 million viewers a night? If we were to “hope” this idea into reality, both shows would jump up to around 60th in my weekly wrap up ratings section. They presently sit at 77th and 78th out of 90 shows. Not a massive improvement, but nonetheless, improvement.

Fox’s Plans (Or Agenda)

I have to wonder if Fox ever “strapped on a pair” and moved Dollhouse and/or The Sarah Connor Chronicles to another night, just how much better it might do?

Well whoever has it out for these two sci-fi based dramas over at Fox would never do that. Plain and simple – as evidenced with how they’ve handled these shows to date.

The bottom line is that Fox will be announcing their new schedule on May 18th and all will be made clear by then, if not earlier. Me, I’m hoping I “guilt” them into renewing both shows.

As if I have to ask, but I’d love to hear your conjectures on the issue of one or both of these shows? DO my ideas spark a different thought for you, or are you pretty sure things are what they are?

Sources: WikiPedia, EW, USA Today, io9, Sci-Fi Wire

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  1. I would love -and expect- Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles to return. However, if it does, it will either be a) a “mid-season renewed [re]placement with a short season or b) cancelled on FOX but gets picked up by SyFy/SciFi for a short season run.

    I stuck with the show, despite the common annoyances …number #1 being the ENDLESS commercials in between acts. I know folks need to pay the bills and sell cars and mouthwash, but c’mon. Six minute acts of drama vs. twelve minutes of commercials arrrggghhh!!!!

    number #2 the “recaps”. You know what I’m talking about.

    number #3 the characters save one are always progressing and being developed further. That one that remains one note? As good as the actress is, Lena seems stuck, unable to shine. At least thats how it appears. What’s the show called again?

    number#4 some eps were nice, but sometimes the more interesting characters and/or plot threads were AWOL. It’s like being jerked around in some areas, yawning in others. Didn’t happen all the time, but it did happen. Esp. in the first half of this second season.

    Now, I’ll say this: the last four eps of the season was stellar.
    Shirley Manson was/is fantastic, Garrett Dilhunt playing Cromartie/John Henry, Richard T Jones, Brian Austin Green doing outstanding stuff. The ending of the last ep of this season is perfect.

    As for Dollhouse, I never got into it.

    As for FOX not liking sci-fi shows? I’ll believe it if, Terminator and Dollhouse are booted, and Fringe moves to Friday Nights.

    No seriously, folks. Fox knows Fridays are weak. Something has to fill that slot.

  2. And something usually does: Cops, Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader, My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad.

    Those are the shows that have been and should be on Friday nights. Their reality drabble.

    Longshanks made this list of shows he said came and went on Friday nights. See any you’ve seen or liked?

    Harsh Realm
    Freaky Links
    Lone Gunmen
    Dark Angel
    John Doe

    Some were destined for the digital DVD archive, but there were a few that could have possibly made it longer than they did if they weren’t slated to Fri nights. At least I think so.

  3. I hope both shows come back,

    I’m catching up in Dollhouse and it has gotten exponentially better after the first few episodes now that all the plots are developing.

    I love Terminator even though the finale was … strange.

  4. no disrespect intended but I think anyone who is in a decision making position with respect to the ill fated conclusion to end the sarah connor chronicles terminator series is an idiot! I am a big fan of the series and would hope that it will not be ended because it offers so much in riveting entertainment value. You can’t be seriously considering ending it without bringing it to some good and decent closure unless you intend to undermind every viewers hope of seeing something on tv worthy of using the electricity to operate the tube and as far as that goes I will just opt out of watching fox all together in favor of opb since there I can predict withsome reliability what can be reasonably expected from my viewing experience. well I gotta stop here and just say please don’t let me down ,I am waiting with baited breath for the next episode!

  5. I agree with, Mister Quintana finish the show with some closure FOX. !!!!

  6. TSCC aeries 2 was a different animal from S1.
    Looking at the fox demographic, it’s mouth breathers with an IQ of room temperature (centigrade)that is their general target audience.
    Maybee if they gave Cowell a cameo , more of the droolers would watch.
    Making a series with plot twists and a story does not sit well with these people.

    I really liked series two , Shirley Manson was a real find.

    Fox may be scared that the new movie has a plot line and writing that sucks, lets face it, given all the movie releases this year and most of last years, thats a probability.

    The last thing they want is the unwanted child outshining the new cashcow, the hoped mainstream reviver of the Terminator brand.

    I really hope that show does not follow Brimstone and Odyssey 5 down the pan.

  7. That’s a good idea Paul C… have Simon Cowell make a guest appearance. What would he do? Criticize the authentic method of how the droids kill.

    I can see it now: “That was a great kill. Weaver didn’t kill those people like other terminators. She made the kills her own and didn’t karaoke the part. She stood out!”

    Hmm… how could they write that in? Ah! We could have Weaver and Cameron duke it out in the American Idol audience, taking out the stage and equipment, hence, pre-empting the show’s ability to go on, and hence, canceled!

    Oh, sorry. We were only supposed to get the viewers to TSCC, not destroy the competing shows.

  8. I want a season 3..the show is getting good with lots of twists..moving to fridays was a bad idea.. did the same to FAMILY GUY dvd sales and adult swim save them ..I hope the new TERMANTOR movie will save the show.

  9. I know this is Passe—I’m a professor at a College of Mass Comm—and I even Judge Peabody awards many years (but usually in news categories, granted!). But I know, from research I’ve done, that there is a HUGE largely untapped audience for the TTSCC—it is a mixture of the folks who were devoted to X-files, plus a contingent of terminotor-phobes, plus a (granted, smaller) contingent of folks like me—boomers who look to Friday nights as actually a GOOD night for TV—we are totally ignored, and I understand, but the demographic profile is actually wrong. Anyway, it is a GREAT show that deserves at least a decent shot in a good time slot. If it flops then, so be it. But, the folks who watch 24 also will watch (they don’t all do it now because of where it is placed and how it is promoted)if they are led there. Really, really poor programming research—-I have a marketing research firm–Opinion Research Solutions, LLC–and I am a research professor at the University of Georgia–I know no one really listens, but, I wish you would. This is a big error. This show has AMAZING audience potential, it just hasn’t been properly 1) packaged 2) promoted or 3) placed. Thanks for letting me vent, ruthann lariscy, ph.d., UGA

  10. Hey Ruthann Lariscy:

    Wonderful points you make, but yes, no one listens to anyone, but the money advertisers make off of the viewers who want to soak up reality TV.


  11. Dollhouse is a show that doesn’t get a happy ending. I’m pretty sure of that. The whole premise is disconcerting to say the least. I mean, how is one to feel about people being taken and wiped clean, only to be bought and paid for to do things? To fulfill fantasies? And when the corporation that controls the house has a vast amount of political influence, how are the good guys going to win? Are they going to kill all of the people involved? That’s going to be nearly impossible, and needless to say is also not a completely happy ending.

    Dollhouse and Terminator are shows that have no happy endings. What may seem like a win for the good guys is just a thorn in the bad guys side. Nothing more. The bad guys are too many and too powerful. Nothing can be done to stop them. And that’s why they don’t seem to get the respect and/or viewers they deserve. Give ‘em happy endings and bright lights and a whole manner of other things. I mean, if it meant keeping them on, why not introduce a singing Terminator that gets judged by Simon? Or an Active that is programmed to be on a reality dancing show against a former football player? Just to get the ratings up? I’m surprised Fox hasn’t thought of it. Or have they. . .

    By the way, that’s how I’m going to look at it if both shows don’t get renewed. That the bad guys (Fox and the advertisers) are too many and want too many things and that the good guys (the shows) are outnumbered. I want them back!

  12. Interesting pov Jon.