Mostly, it seems, the people covering the TCA executive sessions turn into fans when listening to network executives answer questions. I understand it, but it remains a frustration for us that most (not all) TV media coverage doesn’t even attempt to read between the lines. There is more upside in fanning the flames of false fan hope.
Fox chief Kevin Reilly wasn’t fanning false hope by saying that Lie to Me could still be back in the fall despite the lack of a back nine pickup. Barring a miracle, it won’t be back and burning off two episodes last night against the BCS is a much better indicator of that than anything he’d say in public. But you can’t reasonably expect him to say “Did you see how bad those burn-off rating stunk last night? AWFUL! Of course it won’t be back!”
There’s no upside to him saying that, but there would be downside including the wrath of the advertising sales team.
Reilly begged the TCA crowd not to write a premature eulogy for Fringe and said he’d be heartbroken if it went away. I wasn’t in that crowd and while I support Fringe the best way I know how (by watching it, I too am a fan!), the Friday move is a bad sign. Reilly reiterated that if the show held its Thursday numbers on Friday it would be a big win for Fox, but Fringe’s Thursday ratings dwindled and there’s no chance it will perform as well on Friday as Thursday even once DVR numbers are tallied.
So, we’re in for a few months of “But Reilly said…” and “what were the Live+7 numbers!” and I accept that. As a fan I’m bummed about Fringe, but the ratings reality in this universe is bleak.
While surely a bit closer to the truth, it isn’t reasonable to expect Reilly to say “I cried when we had to move the show to Friday, but the ratings…also made me cry. I love, love, love this show, but without a miracle — and by all means, please, please, please pray for a miracle — its Friday episodes will be its last. So enjoy them.”
Update: pretty reasonable coverage from Variety, which notes that a.) Reilly talked about their being a shelf space issue (AKA, “Lie to Me” and “Human Target” are done), and b.) Reilly said he’d be happy if “Fringe” kept 80% of its Thursday audience on Fridays. That would be in the 1.4-1.5 adults 18-49 range. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I know many of you disagree!