I've got less than three years left in the advertising coveted 18-49 demographic, but I can count the number of times I'd shouted, "No! No! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!" at my screen that weren't sports related on NO hands. Because it never happens.
It happened in the season two finale of Sons of Anarchy when Cameron Hayes knifed "Half Sack" to death. That was right up there with the 50 yard bomb from Clint Longley to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day 1974. I was in a room full of people shouting "No! No! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" at the TV screen that day, and while I was by myself when I was shouting it in reference to "Half Sack" I know that I was definitely not alone in the shouting.
I'm not pissed off at Kirk Sutter for killing "Half Sack" off though, and I figure anytime a show can make you actually shout at the screen the people behind it are doing something very right. In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, SOA creator Kurt Sutter explains some of the background on why "Half Sack" was killed off (plus a lot of other stuff).
One thing I was surprised about in Sepinwall's interview as well as his write-up on the finale was his sincere level of concern when it comes to SOA's renewal. Sutter did all he could to assuage Sepinwall's (and the fans) concerns, but unfortunately until the season three pickup is officially announced, there is not a lot for him to say. It is unfortunate that the renewal hasn't been announced yet, but it's near impossible to imagine it won't be.
If it isn't, it will be the first case I can remember since doing this blog where a HIGH-rated show (and relative to its cable peers, especially with adults 18-49, it is a very, very, very high-rated show). I'm not sure I'd go as far as personally leading the fan campaign to save SOA in the event it wasn't renewed, but at the very least it would definitely lead to a bunch of posts about FX chief John Landgraf being an idiot. Good news, though. Landgraf isn't an idiot! I just don't think there's anything to worry about at all here, but I understand that since people expected to see a renewal announcement by now, the worry occurs even though the numbers make renewal obvious.
I chalk the delays up to this: a hit show for the network which they had gotten at a relative steal for the first two seasons. Now, the people involved with making the show know it is FX's biggest hit and they feel like "Hey, you're making a TON of money on this. We think we should get some of that money!" And they should. And they will.
But I can see the negotiations taking some time. Why? Because there are people at the network whose primary responsibility is to negotiate stuff like that. And they LOVE the negotiating. And then the agents representing the producers and writers and actors -- they also love negotiating.
So you have something that is particularly ripe for renegotiating where there was at least a small shift in the balance of power. The people involved with making the show now have quite a bit more leverage than they did before season one. Tack on people on both sides who love, love, love to negotiate and it takes some time. Fortunately they have a bit of time before needing to worry about the kind of delays that would keep SOA from being ready in September 2010. It won't surprise me if there is an announcement this week, but with everyone wanting their fair slice of the pie, it won't surprise me if it goes down to the wire either.
It will surprise me tremendously if the show doesn't get picked up for season three though. For now, I'm counting on SOA being on the air next September, and I'm not worried about the behind the scenes money grab getting in the way!