TV fans' 7 most successful Save My Show campaigns
Fans of the recently canceled MTV comedy I Just Want My Pants Back just want their show back. The New York City coming-of-age series debuted strongly last August, but steadily shed viewers throughout its run, causing MTV to pull the plug on the series. Proving their loyalty, fans carried roughly 500 pairs of pants to the offices of MTV's parent company, Viacom, in hopes that the grand gesture would convince executives to revive the show. It's unclear yet whether the idea has legs, though rumor has it that producers are shopping for a new network to air the series. Here, seven TV shows saved by similarly lofty campaigns:
The most famous example of fans' enthusiasm saving a show is when CBS brought back apocalyptic drama Jericho after fans petitioned and protested for its return — and sent CBS' New York office 50,000 pounds of peanuts. The unusual gesture was inspired by the show's season finale, in which a character replies "Nuts!" to the notion that the beleaguered town of Jericho should surrender. The show was brought back for a second season, after which it was canceled again.
When the fate of NBC's spy comedy Chuck hung in the balance after its low-rated second season, fans, inspired by an episode that revolved around Subway's $5 foot-long sandwiches, waged an aggressive Twitter campaign encouraging viewers to buy the sandwiches and drop a note in the restaurant's comment box saying that their purchase was in support of Chuck. The "tweets and eats" campaign worked, as Subway signed on as a major sponsor for Chuck's third season, enabling NBC to renew it. The series lasted five total seasons.
3. Arrested Development
After Fox canceled Arrested Development following its second, low-rated season, fans of the Emmy-winning cult comedy wrote letters to the network, and sent some tongue-in-cheek banana crates. (Several episodes of the series revolved around the Bluth family's banana stand, which is burned down.) Fox brought Arrested Development back for one more abbreviated season, and now, six years later, intense fan enthusiasm has revived the series once again: Season four will air on Netflix sometime next year.
4. Friday Night Lights
Ambitious fans devised three plans to persuade NBC executives that canceling the weepy football drama Friday Night Lights would be a mistake after its little-seen second season. Urging the network to "keep the lights on," they sent light bulbs. In another campaign they mailed as many as 2,500 mini-footballs to NBC. And playing off the show's tagline "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," fans sent in bottles of Clear Eyes eyedrops. Ultimately, a cost-sharing partnership between NBC and DirecTV saved the show for three more seasons — though fan enthusiasm certainly didn't hurt.
Fearing their beloved WB drama Roswell — about aliens living among the citizens of the New Mexico city — would be canceled after its first season in 2000, fans rallied to send 3,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to the network's offices. (Tabasco was a favorite condiment of the show's aliens.) A fan site dedicated to saving the show also garnered about 16,000 registered users. The WB brought Roswell back, and the program lasted two more seasons.
6. Cagney and Lacey
Perhaps the first show to be resuscitated following an outpouring of fan support, the CBS female buddy-cop drama Cagney and Lacey was brought back from cancellation in 1984. Fans first staged a letter-writing campaign, which was given an additional boost when Ms. magazine and the National Organization for Women lent their muscle to the crusade. The show ran successfully until 1988, racking up six total Best Actress Emmys for stars Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly.
7. Family Guy
To save Family Guy, all fans had to do, apparently, was watch the show. Following the animated program's cancellation in 2002, Cartoon Network added the show's repeats to its popular Adult Swim lineup, and the first three seasons were released on DVD. Ratings for the Adult Swim repeats were huge, only to be eclipsed by the even more impressive DVD sales. Fox brought back the series in 2005, and Family Guy still airs today. In 2009, it became only the second animated series to ever receive a Best Comedy Emmy nomination.