Celebrated nerd and actor Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, Star Trek: The Next Generation) has transformed his passion for all things geek into a successful career as a writer and performer. He hosts the gaming series TableTop on the Geek & Sundry network and regularly performs with musical comedy act Paul and Storm and Mythbusters‘ Adam Savage at w00tstock.
Wheaton has continued acting as well, having had a recurring role on the Syfy series Eureka and frequently guest-starring on The Big Bang Theory. This summer, Wheaton began hosting his own spin on clip shows like The Soup and Tosh.0 for Syfy, where every week he’d humorously dissect the latest happenings in geek culture.
But after only 18 weeks on the air, Syfy has canceled The Wil Wheaton Project. Wheaton announced the news in his usual candid manner on his blog, stating Syfy’s reasoning for not renewing the show boiled down to the series not having “enough viewers to justify more episodes.”
However, Wheaton believes it wasn’t simply poor viewing numbers that killed his show, but Syfy’s lack of promotion and understanding of the show’s target audience, writing:
“I didn’t say anything about the total lack of promotion off the network, or point out that our ratings were on par with The Soup, or that ratings are always lower in summer than the fall. I didn’t bother saying any of that, because I know the [Syfy Network Executive] knows that. I was reasonably confident that he made those arguments with New York when he was trying to get the show renewed. I presume he fought hard for us, but ultimately couldn’t sway executives in New York who never seemed — in my opinion — to really understand what kind of show we were doing, who I was and why I was hosting it, and how to engage with and promote to the audience who would like it.”
Wheaton went on to say the network executive he personally worked with was a “good guy in an industry full of bad guys” and that he believed this guy was “trying really hard to put the sci-fi back into Syfy.”
Though saddened he won’t get to continue working with his writers and producers or make anymore silly segments, Wheaton says he’s grateful “to the people at Syfy who believed in us and gave us a chance to succeed. I’m grateful for the creative support we got, and I’m grateful that I got to spend my summer working with wonderful, talented, funny people.”
When The Wil Wheaton Project first premiered, our own Jason Tabrys commented that it was devoid of “laugh out loud moments, bite, and depthy commentary on nerd-culture,” leaving it with plenty of room for improvement. And the series did continue to grow over its 12-episode run, gaining a following mostly thanks to Wheaton’s own efforts promoting the series through social media, where he already has an impressive reach.
Alas, web popularity doesn’t mean a whole lot for cable executives. For a network like Syfy that needs to earn revenue from ad sales, a show needs to earn high enough ratings to warrant the expense of producing it. And while The Wil Wheaton Project was likely not an expensive series, Syfy clearly believes they can put something more profitable in its time slot.
Are you disappointed Syfy has chosen to cancel The Wil Wheaton Project so soon? Do you think Wheaton will consider resurrecting the show or something similar as a web series? Let us hear what you think in the comments below!
The Wil Wheaton Project aired in 2014 on Syfy.