When did execs become so impatient? It seems that these days most shows have less than ten episodes to post HUGE ratings or get canceled. You get more time if you have a big name writer, producer or franchise (maybe the only reason SGU got even a second season). Even so, Star Trek TNG would never have made it today. Remember how lame the first two seasons were? Remember how awesome later seasons were? Yeah, we would have been cheated out of a great show if TNG had not been allowed the time to mature. Hell, on TV Tropes TNG is the trope namer for "Growing the Beard". If that had happened, the entire Star Trek franchise would have died then and there. There never would have been DS9 or anything afterward.
Great post, but want echo you on this point in particular. You are absolutely right in that the way shows are being decided on these days none of the later Trek shows would have lasted past their first or second seasons were they being made today.
I read one of those all-time best TV scifi lists awhle back and the author brought up a three-year rule or some such thing. From his observation many of the great scif shows of all-time only really became good or at least found their groove around the third season.
It takes time to cultivate a show. It's not just scifi, as even great shows like Seinfeld for instance were not all that great in their first couple of seasons. And with scifi, where you're often building out a whole new world or universe, it can take that much longer to really find its footing.
So why not nurture shows, particularly those like Caprica or SFU that come from strong franchises and have decent numbers. What really boggles my mind is how these show can be killed, leaving on the table so much potential for future DVD and online sales literally forever.
Well that's it for me, I'm not investing in any new shows anymore. I've decided I'd rather go back and watch long-running shows on DVD that I missed the first time and not bother with any new shows until they've got something like three years under their belts.
I actually said this to myself after I got burned by CBS with Threshold, which I thought was a promising new show. I relented though with SG Atlantis and SGU as the franchise seemed so strong, but frankly the fate of both shows has just left a bad taste in my mouth.
So next up for me? Probably Babylon 5 or Farscape.