‘Save Our Show’ campaigns have been around since the 1960s, when an unheard-of letter-writing campaign saved a then-struggling science fiction show. That show, Star Trek, went on for a third and final season after the fans’ incredible efforts were recognized.
Over the years, these type of campaigns have run the gamut of fans sending 3,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to network executives (Roswell) to fans sending banana crates (Arrested Development). While the idea of sending toy UFOs to studio executives to rally around Project Blue Book would have been fantastic, the unwelcome appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic would make sending any (potentially virus-laden) objects unappealing for the recipients.
Deadline.com was the first to post the bad news on May 7th that History Channel declined to pick up Project Blue Book for a third season. Within minutes, fans on Twitter were already discussing it, and rather vociferously. Show creator David O’Leary, who has engaged in live Twitter interaction with fans as the show aired over two seasons, tweeted the sad news as well. However, knowing how passionate the fans are about the show, added “We are committed to finding it a new home! Now we need our 2.5mil+ weekly fans’ help!” He revised the fan-created #RenewBlueBook hashtag to #SaveBlueBook and it has been retweeted daily since that moment.
Studios recognize the power of the internet to gather viewers and maintain a passionate fan base. The fans also realize that the internet and social media are the most direct route to conduct a Save Our Show campaign.
Within hours of David O’Leary’s tweet, German fan Carsten Krikorka posted a tweet announcing the #SaveBlueBook petition that he had created at Change.org. The goal – to find the series a new home on another network. In a little over a week, the petition has gathered over 8,500 signatures and is picking up traction. The producers and cast are behind the petition, posting on both Twitter and Instagram to encourage fans to sign. When Michael Malarkey (‘Captain Quinn’) posted on Instagram, signature rates soared to 700 an hour, showing the power of his own huge fan base.
Within days of the cancellation news, Tara Bennett (SyfyWire’s senior producer) had written a detailed article on Project Blue Book’s unexpected non-renewal, and how the producers and fans were determined to rewrite the show’s fate. “…the executive producers want the fans to know their self-started social media efforts are seen, and are very important right now. In particular, they say using the #SAVEBLUEBOOK on Twitter and Instagram are easy ways for networks to see overall fan engagement. And in the current state of show-saving initiatives, petitions are proving to be an effective ‘at a glance’ for executives to see large numbers of fandoms coalesce around properties. And Project Blue Book has its own fan-started petition already on Change.org the pair have seen and appreciate greatly.”
I sat down with Carsten (via Twitter, what with different countries and different time zones 😊) and asked him some questions about the petition and how it came about.
Q: First, can you tell the readers a little about yourself, and what drew you in as a Project Blue Book fan?
I have always been a fan of mysteries and UFO sightings. As a teenager, I read the books of Stanton T. Friedman, a famous nuclear physicist and professional ufologist, who sadly passed away last year. I am very open-minded, and it is still very interesting to me when science tries to explain mysteries such as the Nazca Lines in Peru or the Tunguska event in Siberia.
I am also very much into music, concerts, several TV shows and history in general. I live in Germany and work in visual design.
In my opinion, Project Blue Book is the most anticipated TV show since The X-Files. In addition, it is based on true events, which always provides an interesting basis for movies and TV shows as they are teaching history to a large audience and arouse interest in what really happened at that time. I was familiar with a few cases Project Blue Book had investigated and the show attracted me the first time I heard about it.
Q: What was your first thought when you read that Project Blue Book was cancelled?
When I got the news Project Blue Book had not been renewed for Season 3, I was literally in shock. The storyline is fantastic and it really makes you want to know more on how the story might continue for the characters. Of course, I want to find out what cases could be investigated in further episodes, too.
Q: Most viewers just accept a cancellation and move on, while fans rally on social media with hashtags and protests. What made you decide to create the petition? And what is involved, as it’s simply not just posting a link and crossing your fingers that people will come to it. You’re on social media every chance you get, promoting the petition.
The night I read about the non-renewal, I immediately said to myself, ‘No way will I let it end like this.’ The idea of initiating a petition came to my mind as I felt it would be the most appropriate way to prove people’s interest.
Starting a petition – which I have never done before – is a large responsibility for me. I feel responsible for its success and public perception. You need to do a lot of research right from the start. You try to reach media to make them aware of the petition, you write emails repeatedly and you must think about what other measures might be helpful to make the petition more successful. You are running a campaign to save a TV show. Social media is one of the most efficient ways to reach an existing fanbase.
Since the petition started on May 7th, I have spent almost all my free time right after work on the campaign. Using social media is an integral part of it. Fans ask me questions about how the petition works. I try to be as present as possible on both Twitter and Instagram because I want to show the signatories and supporters that I take the petition very seriously.
I am grateful that executive producer David O’Leary, actor Michael Malarkey and actress Laura Mennell continuously support the petition by sharing and promoting it on their social media accounts and stories. Above all, I am very grateful for the support from the loyal fans of Project Blue Book.
My daily motivation is to read supporters’ comments about why they signed. The petition quickly became international as signatures are coming in from countries around the world. It proves that people really want to see Project Blue Book back on the screen with new episodes. Starting a petition gives everyone a voice that can be heard.
Q: What would you say to fans who might say ‘petitions never work, why should I bother?’
Petitions represent a common interest and are used to show potential decision-makers the show is worth their investment. This is the main reason why promoting and signing the petition is so important. All the efforts on #SaveBlueBook are really supporting the creators on their way to find a new home for Project Blue Book.
Q: What can be done further by everyone to support the petition and Project Blue Book?
If you have already signed the petition, please keep on sharing it by using #SaveBlueBook on your social media and recommend Project Blue Book to your friends. Make them aware of the efforts the fans are making, too. Rate the show on IMDb.com and on the channels/platforms on which you are currently watching it.
Thank you, Carsten, for taking the time to do this interview. We’re all very hopeful that Project Blue Book gets that much-deserved third season — and even a fourth season.
Thanks for having me and many thanks to everyone for the ongoing support to save Project Blue Book!