Archon (multigenre con held in Missouri)

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Archon

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Con Report: 1989

No surprise that I didn't go to Archon in St. Louis for the rich science-fiction/fantasy ambiance. I have never read "The Pear-Shaped Man," or any of the works of Anne McCaffrey. I went to schmooze with all the B&tB fans I knew would be there, as well as see and hear George R.R. Martin, one of the show's writers and producers. All in all, the weekend was very profitable, though not in the monetary sense.

There was actually very little B&tB merchandise in the huckster's room: some T-shirts (official and by fan artists) bookmarks, a jigsaw puzzle of Vincent which I lusted after but could not coerce the last puzzle's owner to part with (you know who you are, you topsider scum), the graphic novel, and the new 1990 Calendar. There was one unusual item - a two-piece Vincent mask of colored latex which came with a very unmane-like very smooth, very fake-looking wig. Fortunately better judgement triumphed over B&tB merchandise madness.

George R.R. Martin had a one-hour panel on B&tB, during which, to his credit, he divulged nothing of the two-hour midseason premier. Here are some tasty morsels he did throw us however:

[...]

George admitted that B&tB had appealed to three types of audiences:

a) The SF fantasy audience, which is attracted by the tunnel society and how they live.
b) The romantic audience, drawn by the Vincent/Catherine relationship.
c) That hormone-driven audience which lusts after Vincent's thighs.

Though most people may fall into more than one of these three groups, George said a fourth audience, one that CBS always intended the show to appeal to, never caught on-the action adventure audience. He said that that audience was still a target and that the writing would reflect CBS's attempt to draw more young men. (Hmmm...)

For me, one of the most interesting highlights of George's panel was his discussion of network politics. He weighed the pros and cons of waiting for January to premier, versus grabbing the first available air date in October or November they're offered and putting B&tB on the air ahead of schedule. In essence, George said that the benefit of putting B&tB on early is that they may be able to get more episodes ordered. On the other hand, airing in a timeslot left from a show dumped because only 5 people watched it was not exactly the best move for B&tB. George personally favored waiting for January, when CBS is shuffling their entire schedule and B&tB had a shot at a more favorable timeslot, not to mention the ability to launch a decent promotional campaign.

George also talked about Nielsons and, with a great deal of very vocal audience participation, agreed that through it wasn't the most accurate system, it was the only ones the networks listened to at the present, and it was almost impossible to dispute the ratings.

Viewers for Quality Television was an influential organization, he went on to say, but he really didn't believe that CBS cared a fig for what the viewers thought or wanted. The bottom line for the networks is money. That means sponsor time and ad time. Television, he reminded us, is a business first and foremost, and though CBS may want quality shows on the air, their reasoning is less a matter of responsibility to the viewers to put on intelligent shows, and more their wanting to show everyone that their network is as good as anyone else's.

Sometime later that Sunday afternoon, I and some other fans had the good fortune of having George join us for an informal chat. As a continuation of the above conversation, George told us that negative feedback holds far more weight with the network than positive feedback. Nightengales, was cancelled after countless enraged nurses pressured NBC. However, George contended that our positive response does not have the same kind of influence.

George also admitted that they only had three scripts written as of that date. He said that he was flying back to Burbank that night and they were going back into production in the next few days. He laughed when we kidding him about the "close calls" Vincent and Catherine were having this season, their faces, noses and lips microns apart before their heads veered off like two planes avoiding a midair collision.

All in all, it was a time to gather information, hear lots of rumors, gossip and speculation, and engage in some deep and satisfying conversation about love, madness, revenge, psychological intrigue, and the future of our favorite fairy-tale come-to-life. [1]

References

  1. ^ by Jackie Paciello in Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter #7 (September 1989)