‘Terra Nova’ Hunts for New Network: Does Revival Ever Work?

Terra NovaYesterday, we reported that the Fox network was dropping Terra Nova, the high-concept, higher-budget, low-interest science fiction show about time travel, dinosaurs, dystopian societies (two of ‘em) and the tribulations of parenthood. However, much like the show’s reptilian populace has at the hands of producer Steven Spielberg, Terra Nova might find revival elsewhere.

20th Century Fox is shopping the series to other networks. As it stands, there is no specified target for a Terra Nova purchase. The show will be a difficult sell, considering its costly production and low ratings. Either way, the whole idea of network jumping is a risky maneuver.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It started on: The WB

Where it ran for: Five seasons (’97-’01)

But then jumped to: UPN

Where it ran for: Two seasons (’01-’03)

Success of the jump: Fair. 
Although Buffy‘s UPN seasons were its lowest rated, the show still pulled in a fair amount of viewers, especially for its series finale. Plus, star Sarah Michelle Geller has made vocal her opinion that the show went out on a “high note.”  


It started on: NBC

Where it ran for: Eight seasons (’01-’08)

But then jumped to: ABC

Where it ran for: Two seasons (’09-’10)

Success of the jump: Poor. 
Scrubs had lost a lot of its appeal by the time of ABC. The quality of writing dropped, and the shift of focus to a new cast of characters in the ninth season was a strange and poor choice. But the finale of both the eighth season and the Scrubs that fans knew and loved deserves mention as a heartstrings-tugger.

Sister Sister

It started on: ABC

Where it ran for: Two seasons (’94-’95)

But then jumped to: UPN

Where it ran for: Four seasons (’95-’99)

Success of the jump: Great. 

Sister Sister lasted twice its ABC lifetime on UPN, keeping a fairly steady popularity throughout its run on the latter network: a rare successful jump.

Family Matters

It started on: ABC

Where it ran for: Eight seasons (’89-’97)

But then jumped to: UPN

Where it ran for: One season (’97-’98)

Success of the jump: Poor. 
After eight successful years on ABC, Family Matters only managed one on UPN, thanks to a decrease in viewers and a serious change in theme; the show had become a wacky, off-the-wall, science fiction comedy about the misadventures of nerdy Steve Urkel, when it had once actually been about family matters. It didn’t help that Jo Marie Peyton left the show in Season 9 due to frustration with the thematic change, to be replaced mid-season by Judyann Elder.


It started on: ABC

Where it ran for: Four seasons (’78-’82)

But then jumped to: NBC

Where it ran for: One season (82-’83)

Success of the jump: Fair.
You can’t really fault any aspect of Taxi in terms of quality, as it stands as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. But in the years leading up to its ABC cancellation, the show had fallen far from the Top 10 ratings position it once held. NBC’s pickup of the show, and its pairing of it with the then unpopular Cheers, didn’t exactly help.

The WB/UPN/CW Situation

In 2006, the network UPN shut down to merge with the WB, which, two days later, became the CW. As a result, a lot of programs from the two original networks were brought to the CW (again, with widely varying results). A few noteworthy examples:

7th Heaven: the WB for ten seasons (’96-’06), the CW for one (’06-’07)

Veronica Mars: UPN for two seasons (’04-’06), the CW for one (’06-’07)

One Tree Hill: the WB for three seasons (’03-’06), the CW for six (’06-’12)

Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.