Blame it on Gary Newman.
That’s what I will be telling Bell Media, my satellite-TV service provider, when I cancel my service in the coming days.
I had been considering pulling the plug for a while now because, quite frankly, traditional American network television has become quite boring to me. I’ve seen more than enough formulaic TV on the Big Four U.S. networks over the decades of my life. The cop shows, hospital dramas and so many sitcoms are all a blur. Only a few series from all those decades stand out in my memory: Seinfeld, Cheers, Kung Fu. (OK, I loved Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, too.)
These days, I need something that breaks new ground. Something that pushes the limits. Something unique. Something off the wall.
There are a lot of those types of shows on Netflix, Amazon and the like, and I find myself streaming more and more of them these days, and watching U.S. television networks less and less. Indeed, there is only one U.S. network show that I really enjoy — and that has kept my money flowing into the coffers of Bell Media: Lucifer.
Yes, Lucifer is ostensibly a cop show, but with comedic and dramatic metaphysical hooks that had me hooked from Episode 1, Season 1. I never missed an episode in its three seasons. The series became a staple of my weekly life.
Alas, I shouldn’t have let myself fall in love with Lucifer. I should have remembered that nothing is permanent in the world of American network television, and that at any moment, a network executive could break my heart.
That executive is Fox chairman Gary Newman. He claims it was a “ratings-based decision.” He broke my heart.
Newman may be rethinking his decision right now as a campaign by Lucifer’s fans to save the series gains momentum. A change.org petition had close to 150,000 signatures the last time I checked, and Twitterites are tweeting up a storm with the hashtags #SaveLucifer and #PickUpLucifer, the latter being a plea to other networks or streaming services to pick up the series.
My guess is that Amazon or Netflix will sign on, because you know they wouldn’t mind having an extra few million clicks on their websites every week. There’s no telling how many new paying customers they would get.
But Newman may relent yet and sign Lucifer for a fourth season given the amount of pressure he must surely be under today. Which is why I am not cancelling my Bell Media service just yet. Maybe Newman will come through for the shareholders of Bell Media as well as all the fans of Lucifer around the world.
If he doesn’t and I disconnect from traditional TV, I will be joining many millennials and others who have pulled the plug, too. American television networks are going the way of print media: they face extinction if they don’t adapt.
Sadly, too many newspapers and American television networks make ratings-based decisions that seem to treat their customers with contempt. One wise executive editor taught me years ago that when you give your readers/viewers something, it is not a good idea to take it away from them later, even if your ratings aren’t as high as you would like them to be. Because taking something away in effect pushes them away, too.
Of course, I recognize that every TV series must come to an end. Some go out on their own terms, like Seinfeld did. We all accepted that, even if we would have liked to have more. But none of Lucifer’s fans are accepting this premature death. Season 3 ended with a cliffhanger episode that has millions of people crying for more.
And Gary Newman is shrugging them all off with a statement saying it was “a ratings-based decision”?