A few years ago one of my favorite television shows was taken out of production for no fault of its own. Legend of the Seeker had enjoyed considerable success in syndication. But disaster struck in December 2009 when the Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy. The company then controlled 1/3 of the US television stations that carried Legend of the Seeker and to save costs they stopped carrying the show. A massive fan campaign to save the show failed to convince the powers-that-be at ABC Studios that any entity other than SyFy could pick up the show; and SyFy ran two poorly promoted marathons to test the market which produced underwhelming numbers.
I’ll give credit where credit is due: SyFy made an effort to justify saving the show. They had done that before and enjoyed considerable success with the Stargate franchise (although they killed Stargate: Universe and I have almost never watched SyFy since then). ABC has kind of redeemed itself in my eyes with Once Upon a Time (which stars SGU’s Robert Carlysle as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold). But I would still like to see a Seeker on TV again. So would many other people.
The problem is that after 4-1/2 years a lot of the fans seem to have given up. They may have had their hearts broken when SMGO.TV went out of business. In 2013 15,000 fans asked SMGO — which was created to bring dead franchises back to life — to make Legend of the Seeker their first priority. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough money to keep that enterprise going. But you can’t just give up like that. It took ten years to bring Star Trek back to life and look what happened there (that despite the fact that “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was absolutely awful). If Star Trek: The Next Generation could survive two barely watchable seasons to become successful (and spinoff three more successful shows) then there should be someone out there who can do something with Legend of the Seeker.
In February of this year Seeker Craig Horner told his fans that if they really want to see the production to come back, their best chance was to persuade Sam Raimi to make a movie. Now, when Terry Goodkind (author of the Sword of Truth novels upon which the show was based) first announced Legend of the Seeker to his fans, he sold a television series format as the way to go because it allowed for more detail in story-telling. Everything Goodkind said was true, but that was a different time. The world has spun around since then.
Now fans are looking for a movie. The thinking is that if a movie makes enough money it will inspire executives to start cutting deals again. Money makes people cut deals in the film and television industry. Raimi was the series’ executive producer. He assembled the team that produced the show. He and his partner Rob Tapert brought their extensive film and television experience to bear on ensuring that they made a good show, a successful show. They did everything they were supposed to. It was working just fine until Tribune collapsed under the weight of an ill-planned leveraged buyout.
So Laura Ventura, the fan who has led the majority of the campaigns to save, revive, and evolve the show from her Save Our Seeker Website, decided last month to push the movie idea to the top of the agenda. Now, as someone who has been involved with this fan campaign almost from the start, I have occasionally heard things from other fans of the show. Laura and I have also helped each other from time to time. So I know there have been some conversations in the background about where the fan movement can go next, and what is achievable. I have really said all I can say, but there have been plenty of people trying to make something happen.
What they need is fan support. And the fans are there. They have produced popular videos, set up tables at conventions, and downloaded lots of episodes illegally. It was the illegal downloading that apparently killed SyFy’s interest in the show in 2010. They couldn’t get their heads around those numbers in a comfortable way. But while a US television network may not be able to run ads in Italy (or wherever fans could not watch the show legally), a movie studio can look at the worldwide numbers and see ticket sales and merchandising agreements.
That’s where the fans come in. They need to write Sam Raimi and ask him to make a movie. If Sam sees there is still a strong, legitimate fan base he can make things happen. Studio executives can make things happen if they see there is still a strong, legitimate fan base.
That starts by writing letters to Sam Raimi. Laura is running a contest until November 10 where you have a chance to win prizes. We want more fans to come back and write some letters. It would also be great if you would reactivate your Legend of the Seeker fansites and blogs, post occasional stuff to social media (including Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter); and even volunteer to set up fan tables at conventions.
That is what it takes. If you wait for other people to make things happen the things are less likely to happen at all. And this is an important lesson in life for any endeavor: you cannot sit around and wait for someone to rescue your dreams. At some point you have to take responsibility for what you want and work toward achieving that goal. Here is a little poem that has puzzled many a student, but it’s very relevant to these kinds of fan campaigns.
A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it —
It was clay.
Now this is the strange part:
When the man went to the earth
And looked again,
Lo, there was the ball of gold.
Now this is the strange part:
It was a ball of gold.
Aye, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.
There will always be balls of gold for us to pursue. We haven’t achieved this one yet. But you should try, and try again. Because that is what science fiction and fantasy fans do. That is what heroic story-telling is all about.