Today’s session in the library was less productive for me than some of my other sessions have been. There were more people in our group attending and there was a lot going on in the library so there were many more distractions. Despite that, I was able to write a bit over 500 words about the production and schedule history of Freaks and Geeks.
In researching that history, it has become clear to me that the show failed entirely because of its treatment by the executives at NBC. The people who greenlighted the show were no longer in charge by the time the show aired and the new executives never really understood what the show was all about. So they scheduled it for Saturday nights at 8, considered a television dead zone in the era before DVRs. They aired two episodes and then preempted the show for the World Series. Then they aired three more episodes before putting the show on hiatus for the November sweeps and the Christmas holiday. When the show came back on the air in January, it was moved to Monday nights against the ratings monster Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was again taken off the air for the February sweeps and the death knell was that only 12 of the 18 episodes were aired during the show’s initial run and those were shown in an almost random order so that the larger narrative arc of the show didn’t make sense. Who would find it surprising that audiences couldn’t keep track of the show?
This history is fascinating to me because it shows how attitude and expectations can affect the success or failure of an initiative. Because the network had decided that it would be a failure, it became a failure. And, of course, that makes me think about my other project of the summer, the cluster initiative. How I think about and engage with the cluster initiative will have a huge impact on whether it succeeds or fails. I don’t think it’s the only determinant but it does seem to be an important one.
As an aside, one of my scholarship buddies just pointed out to me that I whisper aloud to myself as I write. Or at least I’m doing that today. Maybe it’s because of all the distractions. Or maybe I’m losing my mind.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.