For those who are interested, here is the text of my latest letter to the CW, delivered to email@example.com and via email to my local CW affiliate. The email subject line, by the way, read "Supporting Supernatural: A Silver Lining to the Writers' Strike." A version properly and formally addressed to Dawn Ostroff at the CW is going via snailmail.
I welcome anyone who so desires to utilize however much or little of this letter as you choose when composing your own. Please link this anywhere you think it might help the cause!
This was my response to the announced revised CW schedule, which takes Supernatural off the air after the last of the new original episodes airs on February 21, 2008, and represents my attempt to persuade the CW that they're missing out on opportunities to bring more viewers to the network through judicious promotion of selected feature episodes that could run during the strike season to attract viewers deprived of their customary Thursday night entertainment on other networks.No one responds well to angry rants, so there's no anger here. I doubt this letter will do anything useful, but at least it can't hurt, and it keeps Supernatural (and this Supernatural fan) in a good and positive light. And it makes me feel that at least I've communicated my desires to the Powers-That-Be, whether they pay any attention to them or not.
And now I'm going to return to the contemplation of future Supernatural University classes and fanfic ideas ...
I noted with dismay the press reports of the CW's planned midseason schedule. My consternation centered on the note that Supernatural would disappear from the CW's schedule following the last first-run episode on February 21, 2008, to be replaced for an unspecified period by episodes of Reaper.
I hope that Supernatural's absence from the CW's schedule will be short. I understand the issues presented by the writers' strike in limiting the availability of original scripted programming. I can appreciate the desire not to devalue a popular program by excessively repeating the limited available number of complete current season episodes, and also to give a different struggling freshman show a supportive lead-in from an established performer. With that said, however, I think that in taking Supernatural off the schedule entirely after the February sweeps end, the CW is missing a "silver lining" opportunity presented by the writers' strike to attract new viewers to both the series and the network.
Supernatural represents the only true instance of "appointment TV" on my weekly schedule from ANY network. I never miss an episode, even in reruns; it is simply the most enjoyable and addictive hour of television out there, distinguished by its fine cast, its production quality, the depth of its character and story development, its classic rock soundtrack, and its unique blend of fully integrated humor, drama, and scares. I've often wondered why the CW hasn't provided more promotion for this series, especially given its respectably solid ratings performance in the toughest hour of television competition, going head-to-head against blockbusters CSI, Grey's Anatomy, and The Office, and its unusually broad demographic appeal, which reaches beyond the customary audiences for most other programming on the CW network. Because of its crushing competition, most people simply don't know that it's out there.
As the strike continues, I would encourage you to consider advertising and airing selected episodes from the previous two seasons of the show as a way of giving viewers deprived of their customary original Thursday night programming on other networks the chance to discover the magic of Supernatural and the Winchester brothers for the very first time. You could marshal the considerable energy of the show's enthusiastic fan base to support and promote this Supernatural "second chance for a first impression" by inviting fans to nominate and vote on the limited number of episodes that would air. Challenge fans to explain in very short essays suitable for advertising use why people who've never watched the show should tune in for these special encore episodes, and use the best of the essays in promos for the encores. Seduce people away from reruns elsewhere by giving them the opportunity to sample and become addicted to the most unique and highest quality show on the CW.
I know that this can work because it's a strategy I've used to introduce people to the show, and I've made Supernatural fans out of many unexpected people who had no idea that the CW existed or that there was anything on the network that they would love to watch. Based on my experience, Supernatural could be the CW's equivalent to The X-Files in terms of attracting audience and attention to the CW network for distinctive and original programming. The show appeals to all ages of both sexes for different reasons, from its physically attractive cast to its witty writing, from its intense drama to its quirky humor, and from its frightening ghosts and urban legends to the warmth of its family relationships; there's something in it for everyone.
I'll be here happily when Supernatural returns. I will eagerly await the resolution of the writers' strike and the resumption of production on new episodes to continue the story of Dean and Sam Winchester. And in the meantime, I encourage you at the CW to give Supernatural the chance to bring more viewers to the CW network by offering viewers an attractive alternative to reruns and the glut of shallow reality programming elsewhere through special encores of the very best of Supernatural.
ETA: My letter to Ostroff, by the way, included one additional paragraph before the "thank you." The text of that paragraph read as follows:
On a more general note, I would also encourage the network to do better and more focused outreach to the fans of its various shows, including Supernatural, both to prevent fan over-reaction to network announcements and to utilize the ability of the fans to multiply the network’s own promotional efforts through viral marketing techniques. Because television series exist at the whim of the market, viewers often tend to perceive the network as a threat and an enemy, rather than as the home where favored shows reside. The fans of all of your shows could do a lot to help promote the CW network, if only you made the effort to reach out to them in a friendly, honest fashion that conveyed the impression that you cared about the fans and about improving the ratings performance of the shows those fans love. With that in mind, I would point out that most fans participate on fan-run websites rather than the chaotic boards maintained by the CW for a variety of reasons; for example, I prefer the calmer, less juvenile, more intellectual attitude that prevails on well moderated sites, and the better subject matter organization enforced by good webmasters. It would not take much work to include the webmasters of responsible key sites such as www.supernatural.tv or www.winchesterbros.com on the email notification lists used by your publicity office in order to convey communications directly from the network to the fans. Please think about it.
And for anyone wishing to send their letter via snailmail as well as email, here is Dawn Ostroff's address:
Ms. Dawn Ostroff
President of Entertainment