Goodbye Reality TV; Hello Gritty SciFi

For years, reality TV dominated the dial. Every station had their top performing “reality” programming along with some B-tier and basic cable knock-offs. The top shows like The Apprentice, American Idol, and Dancing With the Stars delivered huge ratings while not quite as huge programs like Biggest Loser, Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo, and Ice Road Truckers managed to bring in solid viewership.

Changing Times in the TV Industry

But as American Idol began to fade, other programs stepped into the gap. Soon The Voice began to lap its pioneering prototype, and other shows suffered losses of fans due to major PR scandals. These days Google Dog the Bounty Hunter, Pawn Stars, and 19 Kids, and you’re just as liable to read about scandal as about the program.

Rise in Sci-Fi’s Popularity

With their cash cow becoming so “last decade” producers began to look for what newer shows were winning with fans. Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones had massive fan followings, proving story-driven TV was making a comeback. The Good Wife, Dexter, and others also played well, but there was nothing quite like the SciFi and crime genres for making winners.

As Justified, Sons of Anarchy, and True Blood closed shop, network execs looked for other brands to bring to the small screen. Two of the latest might prove risky, even in this market. AMC is releasing “Preacher” a series based on a very adult comic book series about a supernaturally-powered lapsed minister, his gun-toting girlfriend, and vampire best friend. This is not your dad’s 1980s cop show.

Potential Pitfalls

While the tantalizing mix of supernatural and crime drama signals a certain winner, there are more than a few pitfalls in this move. Fans are already questioning whether or not the gritty, obscene and extremely graphic comic can translate well to basic cable. In the same way fans balked at a PG13 version of Deadpool, fans of Preacher will not appreciate a watered down Jesse and Tulip. Then again, audiences who have yet to be introduced to the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde of the Cloth probably won’t know what to make of the premise of the show. Any excess, well, excess might turn out to be a turn-off.

But if there’s a bigger bet out there, Cinemax’s Outcast might be it. Main character Kyle is upset about a life marred by demonic possession, not in himself, but in others in his life. He’s recruited into a life of exorcism, sort of a cross between Dean Winchester and a character from Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Will it be a Hit or Miss?

Maybe both of these shows will hit, or at least find enough success to keep them going. That mystery will depend on how well they are embraced by fans and adopted by audiences unfamiliar with any source material.

Roman Temkin is an real estate developer in NYC.

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