Science Fiction: September 2008 Archives

Shortened Credit Sequences

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A couple weeks ago, the SciFi Channel reverted to a failed experiment they tried a couple years ago. They had tried to increase advertising time in their top three new programs, the two Stargate shows and Battlestar Galactica by cutting the credit sequences to almost nothing, thereby not playing the wonderful music and magic effects work that shows how visually and aurally cool the show is. Fans were outraged. You don't do that to a SciFi show. It's evil. It's one thing to make a show with a short intro from the very beginning, the way they did with Heroes. It's quite another to remove an excellent credit sequence that already exists. It just angers the viewers, not to mention the people who put all that hard work into the product you're now refusing to show. The 200th episode of Stargate SG-1 even made fun of the blunder after they'd gone back to the full credits by having a character say something about it right before going into the truncated intro at the end of the teaser.

So what does SciFi do a couple years later? They return to the failed experiment. Why? Apparently it's for a different reason this time, and the reason is even dumber. Here's what Stargate: Atlantis head writer/show-runner Joe Mallozzi had to say:

Oh, for those of you asking - no, you didn't imagine it. That was the abbreviated nine second main title sequence that accompanied last night's airing and not the cool, VFX-laden full version containing the entirety of Joel Goldsmith's incredible score. The decision to scrap the uber-cool main title sequence in favor of the truncated blink-and-you'll-miss-it sequence was a network call. Apparently, prevailing wisdom holds that viewers possess the attention spans of coked-up squirrels who are likely to change the channel if faced with the prospect of investing up to a full minute of their time watching the main title of a show they've tuned into. By airing a shorter sequence, it is argued, viewers will be less likely to suddenly grow bored and wander off into the surrounding cornfields or seek out more enticing programming like, say, TVLand's The Jeffersons/Good Times double-bill. Bottom line: Don't give the viewer an excuse to change the channel. And, to be honest, it's sound logic.

Provided the network rolls right into the show rather than heading into commercials which would, in effect, defeat the purpose of airing a shorter main title sequence.

Uh. Oh.

Come on, SciFi. You canceled the show. It's getting better ratings now than it did any time last season, when it was doing easily well enough to get picked up for this fifth season. Since you're not going on to a sixth season even though it's doing great, why not just let the show go out with dignity? It's only got ten episodes left. Why make the last twelve of them imperfect? There's still time left to make it only two of the last twelve. Do what you want with new shows and maybe even shows with a lot of life left in them. You know this one's ending, and you want to tarnish its high-ratings end with this nonsense? And in such a self-defeating way?


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