Monday, January 26, 2015

Atlantis & In The Flesh: Does Their Cancellations Mean Something Regarding BBC?

Inspired by a thread on GallifreyBase, the cancellation of both shows was merely a week apart but it does make me wonder that aside from Doctor Who if we're in slight danger of getting less genre television from the BBC?

Atlantis seems poised to step in from where Merlin had left off and with the same crew manning the show, surely it should've been as successful as the magical series had been for five series? It seems not as last week, BBC1 announced that Atlantis wouldn't be returning for a third series, so the remaining seven episodes of Series 2 (which have yet to air) would serve as a final run for the show. I wish I could say that Atlantis's cancellation was a shock to me but if I'm being honest, I was more shocked when it got a second series in the first place. I knew it wouldn't get a third one and I think many people did and while the show has had some good moments (I quite liked the mid-series finale back in December), it just lacked the spark and instant connection that Merlin (even with it's fair share of dire episodes and characters acting like idiots for cheap laughs at times) had with viewers. It's a shame because if the writing had been better, Atlantis could've easily been as great if not better than it's predecessor. I will watch/recap/review the remaining episodes from the second series as I'm interested in the return of Medusa, arrival of Icarus and inevitable shitstorm when Jason finally learns that Pasiphae is his mother.

Then there was BBC3's In The Flesh, whose cancellation was announced a week prior to Atlantis's and not as surprising but personally, one I found a lot more disappointing. Mainly because we'll never have the cliffhanger regarding Amy resolved (unless the show is lucky and someone like NetFlix steps in) but also because unlike Atlantis, at least In The Flesh was doing something different within it's genre. It wasn't simply coasting on the successes of other zombie led dramas such as The Walking Dead and Les Revenants/The Returned, it had it's own unique take and storylines and let's be honest, not only was it one of BBC3's better programmes (far superior to it's increasing low brow comedies and utterly dreadful entertainment documentary shows) but it was a show that actually gave audiences a prominent LGBT lead character with Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry). Personally, despite the low ratings for the show, I really do think BBC3 could've at least commissioned a special or something to tie up loose ends but with both In The Flesh and Atlantis getting cancelled and Wizards Vs. Aliens being put on some kind of hiatus, could it mean less genre television on the BBC?

Perhaps not. The reason why both Atlantis and In The Flesh were cancelled were down to ratings and the BBC speak of wanting space for newer dramas (which would make sense if either show had run longer than two series) and there's a slight chance at some point that Wizards Vs. Aliens could return for a fourth run (even if it wasn't entirely a rating juggernaut for CBBC) but with the exception of Doctor Who, Wolfblood and the upcoming series, Tatau for BBC3, I do wonder if we're getting a slight cooling off period of genre television on BBC and it's other channels or if perhaps, I'm just overlooking things and within the next few months/years, more genre shows will emerge. It's certainly time for a female led supernatural show or even a female hero centred show as well, either with a historical figure or a brand new character altogether. ITV2 got close enough with Switch back in 2012, but the show only lasted one series and their upcoming Jekyll & Hyde will probably be more male centred than female as well.

Come on, BBC. There's only so many costume dramas, one-offs, detective and procedural dramas that audiences can take. Don't let the cancellations of of In The Flesh, Wizards Vs. Aliens and Atlantis be the start of a death knell for genre television on your channels. Test out some new writers, adapt other less known genre material and generally step out of your comfort zones. Shows like Doctor Who, Merlin and Being Human have proved beyond doubt if the material is good, audiences will embrace it and watch for multiple series. You just need to pull your finger out here.

And if we're going to compare to US television, you could try your own version of American Horror Story. Now British television in general needs to try and produce a show with a similar level of whimsy and crazy like that one.

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