Question: It seems that ABC's plan to burn off the unaired episodes of Knights of Prosperity and The Nine in August flatlined after just one Wednesday night. By the second week, they'd replaced the shows with According to Jim and Primetime repeats. Now, I'm a realist about the business side's effect on the artistic side, and I understand that a loyal, vocal online fan base represents but the tiniest fraction of the viewing audience, but in the case of Knights, there were only two episodes left — just 60 minutes of fairly worthless mid-August real estate spread over two Wednesdays. So was it really that significant a financial benefit to the network to run According to Jim repeats instead of previously unaired Knights episodes that had already been bought and paid for, and now won't see the light of day, even online? This decision takes the cake, especially in a weak ratings month like August.
Answer: It does make you wonder whether a network is aware of the long-term impact of jerking around even a small audience of loyalists with dumbfounding moves like this. Here's how Paul L. addressed the situation in another rant: "If a network cancels a show that's developed a bit of a cult following and then promises to play off the remaining episodes in the summer, when ratings wars aren't in full swing, why would it then frustrate those viewers by canceling it again after only showing a couple more episodes, forcing us to watch the rest on our much smaller computer screens? I think ABC's treatment of The Nine viewers has made a lot of us feel like we were robbed." I can't really argue with that, although it's clear that in the future, we should be approaching most of these summer burn-offs with a fair amount of apprehension and skepticism. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't watch if they give you the option, but don't assume these posthumous airings are a guaranteed thing. Seems to me that these "goodwill gestures" to cult fans are backfiring badly when the networks fail to live up to their promises.