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.


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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