Goodbye, Journeyman. How I Would Have Liked The Series to Go.

I’m getting a little tired of this.

Is it just me, or is the failure rate of new series going up?  I’m not sure, but I’m getting a little tired of investing hours into a new series, only to find out that it’s cut off before it really gets somewhere.  Maybe I should bag the whole thing and move to purely watching good series on DVD or iTunes (once NBC realizes they are completely off-base taking their content off iTunes).

Well, I had been meaning to post this all season, and now, I catch this article on BuddyTV, which indicates that NBC has passed on filling the last 9 episodes of Journeyman this year, basically putting the nail in the coffin for the series.

So this Wednesday, December 19th, the show is basically over:

The series suffered from low ratings and the network allowed its option for a full season order to lapse by the December 11 deadline for renewal.  While there has been no official announcement from NBC, such an action effectively implies that the series has been cancelled.

So, before the sun sets on this series, let me explain, with two days of potential relevance, how I would have liked to have seen the series evolve.

The rationale for Dan’s time travel that I would have liked is as follows:

  • Dan, Livia, and other time travelers are all linked in some sort of master plan to alter the time line, or rectify it, for some reason.
  • Each “mission” that they take are a set of carefully orchestrated minor changes that each feed on each other to create bigger and bigger effects.
  • We’d start to see people or changes that Dan and/or Livia have made snowballing – the boy saved doesn’t just create a technology to help the blind see, but a blind man helped by the technology becomes Governor, etc.
  • In the end, there is a major, world-ending catastrophe, like in Heroes, that all these micro-changes compound to avoid.

I care less about the exact “orchestrator” of these micro-changes, and how it ties in with Dan, Livia, and other potential travelers.  It could be the scientist found a way to project the future, saw the disaster, and orchestrated this exact path to prevent it.  Why micro-changes?  To limit collateral damage from butterfly effect issues.  I’m thinking of something like Asimov’s time managers from End of Eternity.

Here is what would have made me shut off the show immediately:

  • Anything that indicated they were taking a Quantum Leap direction, with good & evil orchestrators of time travel
  • Anything that indicated this was a mystical or magical phenomena vs. science-based (got close tonight on this, by the way, with the psychic)
  • Anything that sounded like Dan was there to “just do good” and “fix things that went wrong”.  I’ll take my karma from “My Name is Earl”, thank you very much.

HBO better get moving on some new series.  I just don’t trust the major networks to do any of this well, ever.

If you are one of the few people also watching the show, let me know what you think.

9 thoughts on “Goodbye, Journeyman. How I Would Have Liked The Series to Go.

  1. Wow. I think I might be done with TV … at least until BSG or Lost come back.

    And you may want to buy the “4400” DVDs if you want a plot full of micro-changes aimed to avoid disaster (or something like that) … 🙂


  2. I found myself always distracted by the large house with a yard that a former drug addict turned newspaper grunt is able to afford in San Francisco. But I did like how they made an effort in other areas to have it look like SF. I also enjoyed pointing out the minor flaws, like showing the pay toilets in the 80’s — those only arrived in the late 90’s!

  3. I’ve been enjoying Journeyman since the series debut and am sorry to see it go too. It’s actually the only show that I’ve been watching on TV. I loved their attempts at recreating the past in the Bay Area.

    Klep: From the last episode, it looks like Katie’s family was pretty well off. Maybe they helped pay for the house!

  4. Journeyman cancelled? NOOOOOoooooooooo!!!!

    Come on this is getting ridiculous. Why should we even bother to watch new show if the mortality rate is so high and the networks are so quick to pull the plug?

  5. While a failure to renew a contract would normally equate to cancellation, I wouldn’t take it too seriously just yet. The writers’ strike is putting everything out of whack this season.

    It’s also having another side effect. The rumblings of a new studio, owned by the artists, to do new media right, are getting louder. The longer the strike drags on, the better the chances of such an endeavor coming to pass. So the landscape of new TV shows could see some interesting changes soon.

    And NBC is far from off base taking their content off iTunes. iTunes may have been the first digital media marketplace to make it big, but with Jobs’ ego and one-price-fits-all mandate interfering with the pricing landscape, it’s not the best bet for long term success.

  6. Oh Ray,

    You are soooooo wrong about NBC & iTunes. There is no way, shape, or form that the move is a financial benefit in the short term for NBC, or of benefit to their fans, or to their content.

    So, it’s all a gamble on the long term configuration and economics of the digital marketplace for video, and that is a total unknown.

    Given the popularity of the iTunes ecosystem, this is a huge gamble that some other for-profit ecosystem will evolve in relatively short order. Otherwise, the lost compounded profits of the growth of their sales on iTunes dwarfs all other considerations.

    Jobs has shown flexibility on pricing so far in some situations – he just believes the market is too nascent right now to handle the complexity. I know economically that long term, pricing variability will be optimal, but it’s anything but obvious that now is the right time to introduce it, especially when you are competing with free, illicit media.


  7. Yes, exactly, it’s a gamble on the future tech landscape – and the contract negotiations that will go along with it. The iTunes/AppleTV combo is one option. The Amazon/TiVo combination is another. And the studio-owned-internet-play (like Hulu) is another.

    Considering the reach that TiVo has over AppleTV (which even Jobs admits is a “hobby” product), and the experience Bezos’s crew has with marketplaces, I don’t think NBC betting on them over Apple is that crazy an idea. Especially when you consider the fact that they’ll be in a friendlier contract negotiation situation than they apparently were with Apple.

    I would also disagree that loss of short term profit dwarfs all other considerations. The digital market is still so young, and such a small part of the studios’ bottom line, that situating themselves with the right partners and achieving a good place at the bargaining table can be far more valuable in the long run than whether or not they sold a few extra downloads back when the market was in its infancy.

    NBC is making a gamble for the long term. It may pay off, it may not. But I really don’t think it’s off-base. It’s a rational, calculated appraisal of how they think the market is likely to evolve.

    As for benefiting the fans and the long-term value of the content itself… That’s a whole separate rant (complete with business plan) that I’ll save for another time. 🙂

  8. The problem I have with shows like this getting cancelled is that there always seems to be a critical mass of intelligent people who like a well written show that is more speculative without becoming either a judeo-christian good vs evil morality play, or a soap opera with bits of sci-fi or fantasy thrown in. Then the show is cancelled, and either maintains a cult following of some sort, or fades away into the ether.

    My questions are:
    Why do they keep coming up with this type of show and then dropping it after a year or two? Didn’t anybody learn anything from Star Trek? Geeks have money, they buy things. Make shows that we like.

    It is too hard to keep the scripts fresh and interesting? How can people consistently write Law and Order for eons, but not a show like this?

    How many more intelligent and imaginative shows like this are going to be just good enough to fill only one DVD box after cancellation, now that there are thousands of channels and podcasting opportunities?

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