Web support for 'Farscape' out of this world
CNN Headline News
(CNN) -- All I wanted to do was find out if the Internet can help save a canceled TV show. Who knew that fans of the science fiction series "Farscape" would use the Web to educate me and Headline News about just how powerful technology can be in spreading an idea.
The results have been ... well, out of this world.
I had noticed a couple of e-mails to Headline News from viewers complaining that the Sci-Fi Channel had unexpectedly canceled a previously announced fifth season of "Farscape," a show about a lost astronaut, John Crichton (played by Ben Browder), and his adventures in a parallel universe. The e-mails mentioned a couple of "Save Farscape" Web sites.
I remembered hearing how an Internet-based campaign had given fans of the ABC show "Once and Again" one more season before ultimate cancellation. So I called TV Guide's senior TV critic Matt Roush to ask if the Internet can make a difference.
"I'm not sure how successful it can be but I would never discourage anybody from trying," Roush said. "My feeling is the Internet makes [the fans] feel more connected. It's a chance for them to bond together in a way they never had before."
Roush said the Internet is part of the evolution of fan letter-writing and phone campaigns dating back to the 1960s and "Star Trek." He also mentioned that fans of science fiction series would naturally be more technologically inclined and Internet-friendly.
We aired the story on Headline News' "Hotwired" at 8:45 p.m. ET on September 11. The e-mails started coming in faster than Crichton's space shuttle can zip through a wormhole.
By the time I came to work the next day, more than 1,200 e-mails had been sent to Headline News from "Farscape" fans all over the world.
Nina Lumpp, the webmistress of the main "Save Farscape" Web site at farscape.wdsection.com, has experience using the Web to resurrect a TV show. She started a message board focusing on the USA Network's spy drama, "La Femme Nikita." Ms. Lumpp credits fans and the Web for bringing that cancelled show back for eight more episodes.
For Lumpp, the Internet means immediate connection with and better organization for the show's fans. "I love that, it's my favorite aspect of the Internet. I talk to people from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Denmark, Canada, Spain, Bulgaria, Israel ... all over the world. I'm getting hundreds of e-mails a day now."
I called the Sci-Fi Channel to get a reaction to all this, and a spokeswoman said the network wasn't talking. But the fans are.
And one in particular summed up the reason why "Hotwired" did the story in the first place. It's in an e-mail from Lotta Danielsson-Murphy of Arlington, Virginia. "I believe that this campaign will dwarf the famous 'Star Trek' letter-writing campaign of the 1960s and will showcase -- like nothing before it -- the way the Internet has changed how people interact and form communities."
For me, the best part of this is seeing the instant reaction via e-mail to a "Hotwired" story. As of this writing, however, the jury was still out on whether the Internet could help bring John Crichton back home to Earth.
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