Exclusive Interview with ‘Dracula’ Season 2 Petitioner - Catherine Flynn

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By Sachin Trivedi | June 2, 2014 1:31 PM EST

Fans of the popular TV show "Dracula" were disappointed with NBC's decision to not renew the show for season 2. Speaking to IB Times Catherine Flynn gives an account of the fans' efforts to keep the show alive with the hope that the fan following will get other networks interested in the show.

Congratulations for spear heading the campaign to renew "Dracula" for Season 2 and getting thousands of people to support the cause. Tell us a little about yourself and tell us what prompted you to take such a step?

"I work full time, in recent years at a medical school and at a veterinary emergency hospital.  I have degrees in English lit and secondary math education."

"I didn't know about NBC's Dracula beforehand, and I'm not a horror buff, but this show caught me!  I accidentally found it while flipping channels.  The Indiana Jones-ish opening grabbed my attention, and then I was along for the ride. "

"This show is outlandishly good.  It is dynamic, intense and addicting.  It has well-written, unpredictable storylines with delightful twists.  Superb actors bring to life compelling, multilayered characters. The sets, costumes and cinematography are movie-quality.   Watching this show is a theater experience.  There is nothing else like it on TV.  It was plain, unadulterated, distilled fun.  Why did I get involved?  I just wanted to keep having fun."

Could you tell us a little about your experience in this campaign? Did you contact anyone at NBC? What was their response?

"From the very start, people who liked the show REALLY liked it.  Home base was the NBC Dracula FB page, I "liked" the FB page shortly after the 1st episode aired. There were maybe 49 other fans there, which really surprised me!   Those of us who were there were enthusiastic and chatty.  While we were few at first, our numbers started to grow very, very fast.  NBC Dracula started having live Tweets to accompany the broadcasts.   All of this was fun, and very much engaging.  The well-written, serpentine storylines made it especially so.  Lots to predict, guess at, get right, get partially right, what's motivating this, what's behind that..?"

"It was with surprise and alarm that after the second or third episode, that we read that NBC would likely cancel the show.  In December, we began to talk about starting a petition well in advance of NBC's renewal discussions.  Weeks ticked by, but there was no petition.  So I thought to myself, I can write it.  So I did. I hadn't expected to shepherd it; I'd planned on writing it and turning it over to the fans.  Instead, I got a "good job, keep going."  A small group of online friends quickly stepped in to help to promote it, and off it went. Signatures started slow, but picked up very quickly.  Increase rate of signing seemed to parallel new people finding the show - many comments indicated as much. (By the way, I had no idea that Change.org would automatically import my photo, name and where I lived!  That was a bit disconcerting!)"

"We thought that NBC would make their decision by early Feb.  Filming in Budapest began mid-February the prior year.  On 2/2/14, I emailed and Fedex'ed packets to Robert Greenblatt, Jennifer Salke, and Perry Seaman; they got the letter itself, 10,463 signatures/locations,and 124 pages of comments (in very small font!)   Being aware that they probably were not going to plow through 124 pages, I pulled selected, representative comments into a much smaller document and placed it up front.  I had checked ahead about the NBC Universal offices' procedures regarding receiving Fedex packages - actually spoke with someone in the mailroom - and he assured me that the package would be delivered to the offices of Mr. Greenblatt and Ms. Salke."

"NBC kept everyone who worked with the show "in the dark."  The executive producers were not apprised of the show's renewal status; nor were the actors.  Mr. Greenblatt is well known for keeping NBC internal business under wraps.  It was no surprise to me that I received no response."

"Despite NBC abandoning the NBC FB site as of Valentine's Day (Feb. 14th), the petition kept growing, and by 3/5/14, over a month after the last episode aired,  we reached the 20,013 mark.  I sent a follow-up email and express delivery of part 2 of the petition to Mr. Greenblatt, Ms. Salke and Mr. Perry."

"We hit the 25,000 mark around May 1st.  This was so close to the May 10th "Upfronts," where NBC would announce their final decision, that I emailed this one to Mr. Greenblatt and Ms. Salke without express mailing written copies."

"Unfortunately, we received the disappointing and unexpected news that NBC would not renew Dracula shortly thereafter.  (Dracula (petition) is still growing; as of now, there are now at over 27,000 signatures.)"

We had good reasons to be surprised at the cancellation:

1.      27,000 petition signatures (are) very substantial compared to other TV show support petitions. 

2.      Dracula had higher Nielsen ratings than Hannibal, the horror drama which held the same timeslot after Dracula concluded.  Hannibal was renewed despite this.

3.      While Facebook fans do not directly translate into individual viewers, their numbers have direct validity. They are not based on samples (as are Nielsen numbers).   We looked up the FB fan numbers as part of our report to NBC (as of 2/2/14  11:00 p.m. - note, over a week after last episode aired).

 

Show

# FB Fans

Compared to Dracula

Notes

 

Dracula

704,477

--

New Show, Friday night

 

The Black List

618,062

-86,415

New Show, renewed by NBC

 

20/20

398,948

-305,529

Old Show, Friday night

 

Shark Tank

370,594

-333,883

Old Show, Friday night

 

Blue Bloods

320,175

-384,302

Old Show, Friday night

4.      Dracula has a much larger audience than the Nielsen's same day broadcast viewership numbers indicate.   It has very high DVR viewership.  "Twelve of the top 15 shows this season in terms of percentage time-shifting gains are hour-long dramas.  NBC's Dracula, the No. 3 program, shoots up 80 percent, from a 1.0 to a 1.8."     

"Despite Dracula's quality and value, it does not fit NBC's current profile. NBC doesn't offer programming for people watching on DVRs, on iPhones or tablets, or for people under 17 & over 49 years old.  NBC advertisers don't pay for these viewers; their current business model does not work for them.  According to Robert Greenblatt, NBC programming for the coming season will concentrate on "live events, edgy content, and return to the network's roots in family comedies."  That doesn't leave much room for a drama like Dracula."

Many of the fans love the way Jonathan Rhys Meyers played the role of "Dracula" but it seems his assistant Renfield is also getting a lot of attention. What do you think about the cast of the show and who is your favourite character?

"The characters in Dracula were superbly cast.  Jonathan Rhys Myers' performance was outstanding.  The entire cast, main characters and minor, did a wonderful, compelling job.  Nonso Anozie as Alexander Grayson / Dracula's loyal right hand man brought an earthy elegance to his part, and he has indeed turned out to be a fan favorite.  The villains were stand-outs - over the top!  Never mind that the title "villain" constantly shifts.  All in all, though, JRM is hands-down the heart of this show."

A lot of the fans blame NBC for the poor ratings for the show, are the fans justified in blaming the network? What do you think NBC could have been done better?

"The FB page, the tweets and word-of-mouth grew the fan base to a huge size, all without any noticeable promotional support by NBC.  Based on the thousands of comments received on the petition, almost no one saw any advertising at all for the show.  I myself only saw a few short commercials that aired directly before the show, right after Grimm.  To many, it was a puzzlement - why would NBC pour so much money into a show, and then basically sabotage it with lack of advertising? This was a sentiment expressed often on the FB page and in the petition."

Some of the fans are talking about boycotting all NBC shows citing previous shows that were also cancelled. Do you feel that the anger the fans feel right now will subside eventually? What other shows can "Dracula" fans watch right now as an alternative?

"It is true that some fans intend to boycott NBC.  Time heals most wounds (eventually).  A portion of the Dracula fan base had not watched network TV for a long time, were lured back with this show which was not at all typical of network fare.  They will probably stay away long-term.  For the rest, it's hard to say.  I suspect many will stay away for a good, long time, not only because they are upset about Dracula's cancellation, but also because NBC really does not have anything remotely similar.  With putting Hannibal in Drac's timeslot, it would appear NBC's hope is that it will pick up Drac fans.  But Hannibal is extremely dark.  And it is basically unlike Dracula.  Based on online chatter, I'd say 99% of Dracula fans actively dislike Hannibal and if they have been watching Grimm, they quickly change the channel at 10 p.m."

"Since we are without a replacement, fans have been reliving the series with weekly synchronised live tweets, on Friday nights, 11 p.m. Eastern time.  We just completed the ten episode cycle, and plan to start it up all over again in a couple of weeks."

Some fans are hopeful that the show gets picked up by another network. If "Dracula" Season 2 were to be made, where would you like the story to go?

"Cole Haddon, Daniel Knauf, and the rest of the writers are such skilful story tellers.  And one of the greatest joys in watching their stories unfold is that you cannot predict where they are going.  The stories are complex.  They are loaded with historical references and time-appropriate settings, mannerisms, etc. The twists and turns and surprises are just delightful.  Aside from having Renfield live, I just want to keep on being surprised."

Now that "Dracula" Season 2 has been cancelled, what will be your next course of action?

"We are looking for a new home for our favorite show.  With its loyal and substantial viewership and its high rate of time-shifted viewing, we feel an on-demand venue would be much better suited.  We are currently looking for alternatives.  One of the best fits, we feel, would be Netflix.  They will spend $3 billion acquiring content in 2014.  Their long-term view is compatible.  We have a writing campaign going on now to try to convince them of that."

"Thanks for the opportunity to give my perspective." - Cathy Flynn

IB Times contacted NBC for their reactions and reasons for cancelling "Dracula" on 19 May 2014 via email. A response is still being awaited.

Disclaimer - The views expressed in the article are that of Catherine Flynn and do not reflect the views of IB Times.

To contact the editor, e-mail:

(Photo: Catherine Flynn / )
Picture of the documents and petition sent by Ms. Catherine Flynn to NBC to renew 'Dracula' for season 2.
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