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. “T:SCC” was averaging 11 million viewers on Monday? Really? Maybe last season. Not even close this season. Fewer than half that. Or did you forget that “T:SCC” aired its first 13 episodes this season on Monday?

    Fox moved it to Fridays because the alternative would have been canceling it. Period. The move to Friday night had almost no effect on its ratings, since it was failing on monday.

  2. The writing and the producers killed TSCC not Fox. Sure Fridays are a doghouse for four of the five over the air networks. Rating numbers of 5 to 6 million would easily get renewed. Perhaps Fox can do a shared package deal such as NBC and Direct TV did with the show Friday Nights Lights. That show was circling the drain rating wise and found a new lease on life with a partnership. I don’t see why SyFy couldn’t partner with Fox. It would certainly beat that ridiculous reality and wrestling line up they keep expanding at SyFy.

  3. I liked TSCC and was hoping it would come back. Fox wants to screw me again, I’m not surprised. They messed up so many franchises they mine as well take away another show I like. Screw Fox – I hope they go bankrupt.

  4. If most of the episodes of season 2 of TSCC had been as good as the last 3 or 4 episodes the show would have a much better chance of coming back. The move to Friday nights also played a big factor in my opinion. It would be nice for Fox to actually go against what they usually do and bring the show back for a third season. Perhaps move it to another night. They can’t deny the show has a very loyal fan base and they should take into account the dvr numbers. A move to another night could potentially convert those dvr numbers to live viewership numbers.

  5. I think with the anticipated success of Terminator Salvation, WB might get someone willing to take up the show and try to leach of Terminator movie fans. MAYBE we’ll see TSCC on another network.

  6. Yeah, I hope TSCC will be back for another season. I’ve been enjoying all the episodes for this season. If fox cancels this one, then it will be another reason to hate them. But we’ll just have to wait and hope.

  7. I agree that the failure of TSCC was more from the writers than from Fox. The first half of this season was HORRIBLE. I think the ratings dropped mostly because of that more than when they moved it to Fridays…

  8. FOX killed “Dollhouse,” plain and simple. They did this through a series of increasingly bad decisions:

    1) “Dollhouse” was going to start on Mondays, but was then moved to the end of the Friday Night Death Slot.

    2) There has been almost no marketing whatsoever for “Dollhouse” on any of the big FOX nights — you never see a “Dollhouse” promo on Tuesdays with “American Idol,” do you?

    3) What little advertising they HAVE done has been completely slut based and makes people believe that “Dollhouse” is only about attractive people stripping naked

    4) They decreed that the first five episodes should be stand-alones and follow a very formulaic approach: Echo goes on a mission, Echo glitches, Echo saves the day. This lost viewers by the millions (literally)

    I completely agree that both “TSCC” and “Dollhouse” should be given a fighting chance on a different night; if you look at the percentages for DVR usage and Hulu views, “Dollhouse” does extremely well for itself — but let’s face it: almost no one wants to stay at home on a Friday night to watch a sci-fi/drama.

  9. Fox and Friday Nights and Science Fiction…..

    ummm, why does Fox keep doing this to SF shows that have a built in fanbase either based on a story franchise or a producer? Methinks that there is something wrong at Fox itself, simply because the people that greenlight the shows obviously have little control over scheduling else why else would this keep happening.

    If SF is a marginal genre, then feel free to schedule it against dancing with the stars or Supernanny and let it sit there and take it’s lumps and allow the shows to attract that audience that has a room IQ above 85 and deal with the poor ratings and take the celebrated high road. Call it the Cheers protocol…..

  10. Just wondering, but wasn’t TSCC on a different night in the first half of its second season? And wasn’t the ratings for the first half of the second season just as bad?

  11. @Ken J

    Yeah, it was showing on Monday nights. And people were watching it much less than they were for last season.

  12. Yah, that’s what I thought. So doesn’t that mean it isn’t really because of it being on Friday nights and more to do with people losing interest in the show? I know I was losing interest in the show for the second season. I watched them after they aired on their website just out of boredom, but a lot of the 2nd season episodes were pretty dumb.

  13. TSCC’s storyline where Sarah was not trusting anyone and running her own agenda without telling anyone was getting old for me.

    Did I miss something? Who flew that dang “CA Drone” into Weaver’s office? Who were the guys in the jumpsuits who attacked everyone? Did I lose the details on that somewhere?


    Dollhouse: I’m looking forward to see what they do in the next few episodes.


    FOX has released a promotional image that GIVES AWAY something, so be careful as you cruise the web! I chose not to post it.

    That’s ScreenRant, thinking about our readers.

  14. TSCC: It’s a combo of downhill slide factors.

    Fox sealed the shows fate from any possibility of treading water when they sent it to the night of Fridays. And oh yes, those mid-season episodes did see to lose folks.

  15. The only thing I hate is how with all of these ways to get information out to people for free or for very little cost, how come the makers or writers of these cancelled shows don’t bother to tell their fans how the story would have continued?? There are so many times when a show is cancelled unexpectantly and then we’re just left hanging wondering where they would have went if it had gone on. There are so many blog websites that are free, starting a website is pretty cheap now, why don’t they make online comics or something to show how the show was going to progress? I’m sure there are enough Whedon fans that would have went to read these continuation comics of Firefly if they had done that to get enough revenue from advertisers. Now if TSCC is cancelled we’ll never know where it was headed.

    But I guess they are probably holding off hoping they could actually continue the show either on another network or if the same network will give them a second chance later. Who knows. I guess in terms of Firefly, that actually happened, but that story arc from the show was never really completed… She was just starting to gain ESP powers where they left it…

  16. OK, you guys made me do the math for the entire 2nd season of TSCC.

    The average numbers I used in my article looks like they were referencing all viewers, and came from ABC Medianet. They don’t concur with what I’m seeing on TV by The Numbers… I must presume ABC is adding EVERYTHING into their numbers.

    AVERAGE VIEWERS – When TSCC was on
    Monday nights: 5.4 million.

    Friday nights: 3.5 million.

  17. I agree with your overall theme and also feel they owe both of these shows another chance. Especially TTSCC. After the last few episodes- with such excellent writing and so many possibilities, plus the Terminator movie coming out to renew interest in the franchise, I don’t see how anyone could ignore this show’s potential.

    I have only one issue with your article and that is your prediction for a third season demise if the story line is a future where John Connor never existed. I still think he can go on to become a leader in that time line and BAG gave the impression that’s where the show might be headed in his interview. There’s also no reason to believe Connor can’t go back in time. But most importantly, the writers have continued to amaze me with the things they think of, so I’ll trust them to work it out and not back themselves into a corner, though that is a possibility. BAG also mentioned in that article that Josh Friedman continually surprises him with his writing, so who knows?

  18. Well, looking at those numbers I can kind of see why it was moved to Friday. When the first season was doing 11 million viewers, now down to 5 million on a monday night, they probably felt it profitable to move something that might get more viewers to monday nights. so the lack of viewers for TSCC wouldn’t harm the ratings for the shows before and after it.

  19. Oh, but the WORST thing about the finale, is the return of mr rosey cheeks size XXS baby voice Kyle Reese wannabe…

  20. Both shows deserve a fighting chance–3RD SEASON!!! The writers and talent on both, ESPECIALLY ON TSCC, have shown skill and creativity. Whatever speed bumps the TSCC folks hit in Season 2, give them a chance to learn from misteps!! NBC is still letting HEROES time to regain/re-find its potential!!! COME ON FOX, DON’T WUSS OUT!!!!

    –STEVE C.

  21. Well said Longshanks
    Nice recall on that list of firing squad by Friday’s list.

    As my wife put it:

    They pushed House to Mondays, from Tuesday.
    American Idol to Tuesday,
    The show on Monday – whatever!

    Fox had a contract they had to honor, but they did not feel it was going to be any serious bread and butte, so off to Friday night with them!

    From the way she put it to me, I’d say we were once again victims to reality TV.

  22. Ken, the writers can’t publish there notes on TSCC because they don’t own the right to do so,,, everything that is TSCC, is controlled by FOX. There under contract and can’t release any new material. They would be fired and possibly sued for doing so.
    And Connor not being a leader in an alternate timeline, you have to keep in mind that he could meet up with the other T-1000 and go back to the present during almost anytime in this alternate timeline.
    I’m sure the writers opened up all these possibilities in hopes that they could drag out this show for another 22 episodes.

    I hope they succeed just based on the last episode. ;-)

    Cool article Bruce!

  23. Thanks 790

  24. No prob B, this is a post that is long overdue. ;-)

    I think the internet buzz on renewing TSCC for a 3rd season might work if like others here have suggested that the film (Terminator Salvation) is a huge hit…
    Let’s hope so as Tv is so horrendous that I welcome a Terminator Tv show, no matter how crazy it gets. :-)

  25. Ok, first off, maybe you’re missing out on something. The alternate future/timelines/etc don’t affect the terminator franchise one bit, since it’s all ALTERNATE, that’s what the word means, that’s how it works. In case you’ve missed out they’ve been doing this since the pilot of ssn 1 aired. Infact, since the original terminator*.

    Secondly, of course ratings are down. It’s audience is geeks. We don’t watch TV on TV. We download it, then stream it over our modded consoles and watch it on TV. Sucks that fox isn’t broadcasting the show itself online, or streaming it over XBOX Live, so that we could watch it, and they could still get money from commercials, etc. But most big media companies are lame idiots like that and afraid of technology.

    * Obviously there had to be an alternate future at some point without John, where they may have been losing the war, and they sent Reese back for something else, he probably knocked Sarah up then, fathering John (it only makes sense), and even in T:SCC they have multiple members of the cast in the same present, all from different futures. Time travel is complicated, yo.

  26. 790, I understand that, but in the case of Firefly, Fox gave the rights to Whedon so he can pursue other studios and do whatever he pleases with it. They don’t seem to want to hold on to the rights if the show dies. I’m sure they’ll be willing to release the rights to TSCC (maybe not since it has Terminator stuff in is, so that might be more complicated), but Dollhouse looks easy for Whedon to get back.

    But anyway, back on topic, I think it’s easy for people to play pin the blame on the bad guy, but you have to look at it from a business standpoint. Be objective. I don’t like it either since I really liked Firefly, so it sucked when that ended.

    But anyway, a show’s rating can really depend on the shows around it. Sometimes a show will do better because the show before it drew a lot of viewers, then some of those viewers hang around to watch the next show. Having a show that nobody wants to watch can have the opposite effect. Now we have established that TSCC was only drawing around 5 million or fewer viewers even when they were airing on Mondays. Now when shows typically draw more than 10 million viewers on mondays and tuesdays, this could be considered a very weak performance. So I guess the business logic here is that this show will most likely not pick back up, but keeping it on Mondays will mean it might drag down the shows around it. So by taking it out and replacing it with something else that draws in more viewers, they could get even more viewers for the other shows. But instead of cancelling the show, they move it to a time slot that isn’t too important to them and let the season finish. Which I prefer over them cancelling it mid-season like they did with Firefly… But I can’t be unrealistic and expect them to keep it on mondays if it’s performing so poorly. They are out to earn money, not make friends with the viewers, that’s simply the way it is and I don’t really agree or disagree with it.

  27. Seems to me that X-files struggled in it’s first couple season and look what happened there. If you plant it, water it and nurture it properly…it will grow. I love both tscc and dollhouse. I hope we get more storries. I wonder if Fox has ever considered that there might be some back lash for all the good series that have been mangled. Would serve them right if…”Fox new series premiers, Viewers don’t show up to avoid being disapointed later, No film at 11:00″

  28. Well the friday move sure didn’t help,,,

    I sure hope they do another season, but if not I think we were lucky to get what we got. :-)

    Maybe the writers can make the fans happy with some bonus comments on where the show would have gone on the season 2 dvd bonus features. That would be cool,,,