Left in the Dark
by R.C. Murphy
Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.
I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.
Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.
Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.
For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.
Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.