Dawn of the Dead

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Yeah -- one that speaks in grunts, and one that speaks in complete sentences.

"I didn't want to say it," Pate says, softly.

If the show is indeed banished from the airwaves, it makes little sense for several reasons, foremost among them, Sci Fi actually owns good vs. evil, which is a bargain to produce (most hour-long network series run in the millions per episode; a single ER runs NBC $8 million to $9 million). Sci Fi leases the rest of its lineup -- which features foreign productions (Lexx, about a female sex slave trapped on a penis-shaped spaceship) and mediocre syndicated fare (Xena, Hercules, Friday the 13th) -- for an average of only $150,000 per episode. That means Sci Fi and USA could run the hell out of good vs. evil without having to worry about spending extra money; it could schedule the show every day in hopes of finding its audience. But the network airs the show at the worst possible time: Friday nights at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Central time, meaning the audience it hopes to attract probably ain't home to see it.

Worse, says Pate, is the fact USA Network "spent no money on marketing the show at all." He adds, "Our hope would be something like the South Park phenomenon in the very beginning -- we could just spark something that would catch on. And that's their thought, too, so that's why they won't spend any money on marketing. They think any lightning that it will strike will strike on its own."

But Pate isn't resentful; quite the opposite. He and his brother are itching to get back to making features, and even if the show does return, they will hand over its day-to-day operations to another producer. And the brothers are waiting to get the go-ahead from Sci Fi for another series, one that "might have a better shot at attracting a wider audience than good vs. evil," Jonas says. Perhaps he and his brother are resigned to the inevitable. Henry and Chandler may have returned from the hereafter, but their show likely will not.

"I just want to know what will we do if this show is really canceled, which I can't get a definitive answer to," Rohner says. "You can get a definitive 'we don't know.' That's the question: Is it canceled? Is it not canceled? It's like asking someone, 'Do you like me?' and having them say, 'Well, I don't hate you.' What does that mean?"

Son, that means you're probably dead.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky