So the BBC are taking the unusual step of pulling this show mid season? Was it really that bad? I have to admit I haven't seen it, for reasons I'll go into later.
On the face of it, it would seem to tick all the boxes. Young people thumbing their noses at the establishment. Miscarriages of justice overturned. Exec produced by the mighty Paul Abbot and made by his prodco 'Tightrope' What's not to like?
Now as I've said, not having seen it I don't know if it was good or bad so I can't comment on quality as an issue. But this show struggled to find and audience from day one. As far as I'm aware the figures have hovered around 3 million from the pilot onwards. So it seems to be a case of if you can't attract a big enough audience from the outset, unless word of mouth prevails pretty damn quickly, you're not going to attract an audience down the line. It seems not enough viewers were attracted in the first place.
Why is that? Okay, here's why I didn't tune in. Some of the reasons might seem a bit subjective, but they are my genuine reasons.
A] The show is based on 'The Innocence Project' running in several US universities where law students attempt to save innocent people from Death Row. That's right. DEATH ROW. As far as drama is concerned we are talking huge jeopardy and ticking clocks. As far as the UK is concerned it's nice when an innocent man gets released. But it ain't exactly heartstopping drama.
B] I couldn't figure out how I was supposed to care about the guy in prison. I don't know him. So unless we have a lot of him in prison and lots of interviews with our heroes then it's unlikely I'd get to know much about about him. So does the show concentrate on the investigative side? Don't know, Did't watch it. Didn't care enough about the goal.
C] I didn't like any of the trailers. A bunch of smug overacting newbies trying to make everything sound so terribly important.
D] I pitched almost exactly the same idea about 5 years ago except it was a human rights lawer trying to free Brits under sentence of death in various countries around the world. I was told it would be too expensive. See what you get for being cheap?
Okay so the last reason was schadenfreude, but the other three are really why I think it didn't attract substantial enough viewers. Because contrary to what seems to be the belief of some execs, the audience are not dumb.
A lot of them may not consciously think of reasons. But they can see a trailer and almost instantly decide yes or no. Probably because subconciously they've gone through similar thought processes [ though probably not the same reasons] as I did. They just don't have to think about the reasons. Why should they? That's our job.
Let's hope someone at the BBC is going through similar thought processes rather than pulling The Innocence Project only to replace it with more of the same.
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