Fandom. It's one of those things that very few can understand unless they're actively a part of it. Look at those Star Trek people. There are Trekkies and Trekkers (and depending on who you are, never the 'twain shall meet), and two movies about the fans and the phenomenon.
Talking about fans and fandom can be difficult for those not a part of the scene. I could watch a television show and find it rather dull and uninteresting, but there might be a group of people out there for whom it strikes a chord. In the end, the upshot is that there are people out there who become very dedicated to a show, a character, a book, a musician, a series of films, or some similar thing, and when that thing disappears it causes a great deal of upset.
Star Trek disappeared after a few short seasons on television only to be reborn on the big screen and spun off into multiple new series. The X-Files will be returning to theaters this summer several years after the series ended its run and even more years after its first foray onto the big screen. Jericho was abandoned by CBS only to have fans organize a campaign and get their series resurrected for a brief second, and final, season.
And now, there's Moonlight.
It's a vampire show that, to many fans, is far more than just a show about vampires. It's a show about love and loss, it's got mysteries and excitement, and, who knows, maybe some greater truths about the world stuffed in there as well. It's also been canceled.
CBS blames the numbers, but the fans state that they're just fine. It kind of depends on how you see it. Moonlight was, by a significant percentage, the lowest rated show CBS had on Friday nights. Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight's lead-in, averaged 8.7 million viewers, Numbers, its lead-out, averaged 9.1 million viewers. Moonlight put up just under 7.5 million. Devoted fanbase or not, 7.5 million is less than both 8.7 million and 9.1 million.
But the fanbase truly is devoted.
They want their show back on the air and they're willing to do anything to make it happen. They're actually going out on their own and trying to shop the show around to other outlets, including the SciFi Channel and DirecTV.
Now, there's more news. DirecTV has, I'm told, asked the head of the “Operation: Save Moonlight” campaign, who appeared on Blogcritics Magazine's “Screen Time” radio show, to post a poll on her website asking fans whether they'd switch over to DirecTV if the satellite company produced new episodes.
As one could expect, the overwhelming answer is yes, they would (as of this writing 72% said they'd switch and 21% of respondents stated they already had DirecTV). While that sounds great, one has to remember both that this is a fan-based message board that the poll is appearing on and that it's wholly non-binding. Fourteen hundred people saying that they'd buy a DirecTV subscription if new episodes of Moonlight could be found there is all well and good, but can't possibly cover the cost to DirecTV of making the show, even if all those people did sign up.
Whether or not DirecTV has any intention of picking up the series, the very fact that they asked to have the poll placed on the site is interesting. It says a lot about fan campaigns in general and this one in particular.
The odds are heavily stacked against “Operation: Save Moonlight“; their chance of success is slim, but they're still out there making their voices heard and their opinion known. Members of the group have even threatened to stop watching CBS entirely based upon this one show's cancellation.
As fan campaigns to save shows ramp up (there seems to be a new one every time a series is canceled) they become more and more sophisticated. One wonders if networks have to become more clever in the way they cancel shows so as to avoid more public relations issues.