MovieChat Forums > Colony Discussion > Why do you think the series failed?

Why do you think the series failed?


From AV Club:

"This is the season finale of Colony, but as of yesterday, it’s now also the series finale. The critically resurgent but chronically under-seen show is wrapping up its third season with a cancelation notice from USA. The current arc has felt like two years’ worth of story in one, as the fight against alien overlords has turned its attention to the messy realities of the various human factions trying to carry on some semblance of life within the Seattle colony—and the secrets contained therein. Tune in to find out just how much of a cliffhanger we’re going to be stuck with as the grace note of this flawed but fascinating series."

I blame the lack of ALIENS. Key to a story about alien overlords, yes? You can't just dribble out little alien teasers every few episodes and keep your numbers up. I honestly think the writers didn't know what to do next so wasted our time with family interplay and looks of worry. So many good teasers of things to come without ever getting there.

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Colony was probably too grounded for some people's taste. They probably was expecting something like Falling Skies. Something Colony never promised in the first place. it's a sci-Fi thriller, with political intrigue. Not a post apocalyptic war show like War of The Worlds tv show (deep cut I know lol)

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I told a friend a few weeks back that I was getting tired of the show, probably wouldn't watch another season. After a couple more episodes, around EP 10, he said "it just got more interesting".

So I tuned in again and he was right, things started picking up, more reveals about Kines and the alien factions and the purpose of the outliers (not that I believe the writers knew what an outlier was in season 1).

And by the finale, Will patching up things with Katie and swallowing the PTSD stuff, admitting his problem and vowing to work on it, then the cliff hanger of him getting in the pod, I was thinking "Okay, now we're talkin'".

But I guess it was too little, too late.

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Exactly. Too bad, too, bc I loved the whole concept

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Actually there are plenty of little easter eggs that indicate they did know where things were headed from the beginning. For example the first time Beau and Will went out together a drone came down to ground level and was "examining" Will. He asked Beau whether he had called the drone, and Beau said something like "They just do that sometimes. It's kinda creepy." Since he was most likely an outlier too I'm not surprised drones occasionally looked him over that way they do. This drone behavior happened throughout season 2 with no explanation. Will became explicitly aware of his different status when the one on the wall should've blasted him ... but didn't. Only in season 3 did they finally explain what this was about, but it's been going on since the pilot episode. Come to think of it, with the way drones usually blast people first and ask questions never the swarm that responded to the gateway bombing should've splattered Will, standing there with his hands up in the first five minutes of the show.

We saw the pods with people in them when Bram and his girlfriend were in the bay to plant their bomb, humans packed in stasis for transport on the ship. Remember how that retrieval squad, the blackjacks, were going around with a list of names (which Will and Broussard speculated matched the drone no-kill list) trying to round them all up before the bloc was renditioned? Well now we know why. They wanted the outliers separated and not sent to the factory with everyone else. The blackjacks had orders to take them alive, but let them escape for now if necessary to avoid killing them. Remember that?

I'd say they probably had a complete backstory and a rough outline of the major plot developments and reveals - for the whole series - while developing the first season. A lot of details would've remained fluid. Like for example, they weren't planning to lose Beau from the show. And maybe Charlie's death wasn't set in stone from day one. But as far as the big picture is concerned they weren't just making ѕhit up as they went along.

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I wouldn't call those things Easter Eggs - I'd just call them foreshadowing. And yeah, they had a lot of it for sure. It's essential in any story. I do think, though, that they didn't know how to get from A to B and wasted a lot of time getting there. I'm not convinced the writers knew why they wrote the drones didn't kill Will. But once they figured out the why of it, they weaved it in the plot. I'm a fiction writer. Sometimes, when I'm writing a scene, and I make something happen, it isn't until later that I figure out why the thing happened. I just know it's a good development. When I do figure it out, the revelation is super rewarding and hopefully my reader experiences that reward as well. So that's why I suspected it the way I did. We do each have our own opinions of the process and the outcome, and I appreciate your thoughts.

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I’d really like a movie, comic book, short story anything to wrap this story up. I would hope the creators of the show would learn not to go the Lost route, making it up as they went along. Lost was one of the biggest disappointments in my tv viewing history. At least Colony didn’t string us along for 3 more seasons.

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OMG, couldn't agree more. I lost six years of my life to Lost. Thought it was the best thing on TV since the Twilight Zone. In fact, I just happen to be rewatching the whole shebang since it first aired. (couldn't bring myself to do it until now.) Just finished 2nd season. Enough time has passed that I'd forgotten a lot. I TOTALLY thought the whole time that the writers knew where they were going, and then Season 6 happened and with it the disappointment of the ending (a direction everyone thought they would go from the get-go) and realizing that they had no real game plan AT ALL. Much of the reason I'm skeptical about whether Colony writers did.

In fact, just saw Damon Lindelof on some CNN special and he right-out said that by Season 3 they didn't know what would happen next; they were out of flashback ideas. Sigh. Don't get me going. I'm curious whether this time around I'll be ok with the ending. Not expecting to. Maybe I'll stop at Season Five and pretend it ended better.

I agree that it would be nice to have the writers wrap up Colony in some form, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Hollywood, right?

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Adding: Another comparison with Lost... Lost had, over 6 seasons, 118 episodes. That's an average of almost 20 ep's a season, double that of Colony. So, really, 3 seasons of Colony is equal to a season and a half of Lost. And it was paced with even less overall story arc reveals and story questions. Political infighting was ok, but that and family stuff was basically all there was.

I count 10 scifi elements: big wall, separate colonies, alien suit, alien rubbery material, pods, war with other aliens, "the factory" (oh just get rid of that in one sweep, btw, GONE), the resistance, some religion they dropped out of the plot, and that Will & others were going to be used as fighters.

It would take way too much space to list all the intrigue events in same # of episodes of Lost. It was so brilliant, until it wasn't.

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They painted themselves into a corner with Lost. There were so many weird coincidences, deep connections between people and events, you figured it would all come together in some grand fashion but it ended up fizzling. At a certain point I'm sure they realized there was no way to weave a coherent narrative from all the bits and pieces they'd set up.

I seem to remember Cuse saying they had enough material to go for five or six seasons on Colony, something like that. I think he unveiled the plot too slowly though. I mean, the fog of war approach worked for the first season and a half but they should've brought us more revelations more quickly at that point. The religion thing was apparently in some colonies but not others. It was just one style of social control that certain proxies embraced while others didn't. They seemed to have a lot of autonomy to run their individual blocs - as long as they were contributing their share and maintaining order.

We still to this point never got a glimpse behind the curtain with the Raps though. I would've liked to see at least one or two scenes in their command center, or on the bridge of one of their ships, with them talking to each other and whatever human lapdogs they had serving by their sides. I actually thought when Will got Charlie back to the LA bloc the Raps were going to ask for him specifically, after saving one of their own, to work directly with them. We would've gotten to see the occupation from the other side on a regular basis as Will actually interacted with the aliens. And also of course, because of that perspective we'd have gotten an idea of what was happening globally.

They never gave us a second look at the Factory, or an explanation of what they were doing there and why workers got sick occasionally and were escorted out by the red hat guards. I can't help feeling they originally intended to follow Katie's sister Maddy after she was taken up there. But either they never got around to it, or couldn't get the budget to do some cool shots of spacesuited laborers on the lunar surface so they never bothered.

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I agree on all your points. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelhof AND J. J. Abrams are good at the setup and not so good at the follow through. My theory is that it's the difference between screenwriters and novelists. Novelists take years to figure things out, screenwriters are on tighter turnaround.

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My sense is that the foreshadowing you describe existed for a *different* long-arc ending to this series which existed as part of season two but then got abruptly changed when their funding got cut and they moved the shooting to Vancouver. My guess is that the drone/outlier/pod elements were tied in with some kind of long-arc story that had the Raps as ancient Earth residents/marooned aliens who went into machine hibernation when their civilization collapsed. This ties in with the greatest day mythology presented by the teacher in S1. My guess is outliers were originally planned to be body transplants for host consciousness and the factory was some kind of biological facility for making this happen.

I think that location move forced them to radically alter the long-arc story into aliens-vs-aliens to try to amp up their science fiction without actually giving in and becoming full-on science fiction. The outliers as soldiers fighting the other aliens was a retcon when they had to retool the show and possibly end it, which they pretty much intentionally did in the final episode.

It makes no sense in S3 that they've needed outliers all along to fight the other aliens -- if that was the plan all along, why kill off all the special forces guys, etc, during the invasion? It's like they wiped them out but needed them? It makes more sense that outliers value was other than their specific soldiering skills, that they were "high value" bodies or something that could be better merged with an alien consciousness.

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I don't think that the series failed. As an average insurgent Joe, can you expect to have a major reveal every 2-3 episodes? Nah, you claw for every little piece of information as they did and it was portraited well. I guess, people just don't like slow-building shows.

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Claiming the series "failed" is an exaggeration. The show lasted for three years and was popular. If it could be called a mistake, the only true mistake the producers made was relocating the show from Los Angeles to Seattle.

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I used the word “failed” bc it was cancelled vs shut down by the show itself (like Breaking Bad, Cheers, etc). I assume it was canceled due to dwindling viewership. So maybe I’m asking why the dwindling viewership? I stuck with it but lots of viewers didn’t.

I personally think its problems were many...pacing like a show that had 20 eps a season vs 10, too much family, characters who changed unpredictably, dropped storylines, and unbelievable world building. All of which disappointed bc I loved the whole concept and the 2 male leads. But that’s just me.

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It did fail due to lower viewership and the soap opera like plot. The aliens should have been revealed in the first season.

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Sometimes it’s better not to know the threat. Keep it mysterious. But yeah things were revealed too slow for a seasonal show.

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I think that was forced by budget cuts, not because the creators wanted to leave LA. It's much cheaper to shoot in Vancouver.

The problem is the show "failed" in S2 to deliver enough science fiction to boost the ratings, this forced a location move to save money, and the location move created a bunch of discontinuity in the storyline which made it even less coherent and made ratings worse, leading to its cancellation.

I'm convinced that if S2 had significantly upped the reveals on the science fiction part of the story, it would have helped ratings a lot. S1 as a mystery setup wasn't bad, but it couldn't go on like that.

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- I think the series was great

- I think Season 3 was just great, although i could understand the first few camp episodes could feel it does not really go somewhere (although there was the gauntlet suspense),
with seattle it really picked up for me. Season 1 was also good, i find the premise of earth becoming an alien colony very very interesting, also the aspect of different blocs. Season 2 was also 'very good' for me.
The show for me was never much about aliens, but about humans (how they react to it, big topic of resistance or acceptance/being complicit)

- Why was this not so successful as Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad?
I think it was not much worse than them- for me only just a little bit.
I am just thinking it did not create so much hype as them. I think the plot point 'some science fiction' is not as good as 'Loser physics teacher becomes druglord'
or 'Dragons and supercool'.

- Also: Perhaps the 'big picture' overall storyline should exist and be moved forward a bit every couple of episodes. (ok i just read some of you already wrote something like this)
I like that the main characters are thrown into new situations, instead of always eg staying in the same colony, that keeps it fresh, but there should be some over-arching storyline like
'secret of the aliens' that should be an overall storyline coming into play every few episodes.
Else the story seems to not move forward but we just see the same characters in different locations (colony one, working camp, colony two...).
Season 3 did a great job of moving the big storyline (alien war, Tynese plan) forward, that's one thing that made it so great.
Funnily enough Walking dead seems to be very audience-successful, and they don't bring the zombie-storyline forward *at all*. There was some little attempt once in earlier seasons on finding some possible cure or something,
but nothing since then, and it will not change. I think this is a drawback of walking dead.

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I think you have it right there. The frustration was with the overall storyline arc. As said many times here, the pacing was more like that if a show w 20 eps per season, not 10.

I also want to add that for me, i just didn’t buy how some of the humans were living. In the beginning, the desperation for insulin, for instance, felt true. That sort of thing was quickly dropped. So therefore i had little sympathy for our main characters’ plight bc I wasnt very worried for them.

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Just semi-binge watched Season 3 on Netflix. Dammit. I actually liked where Season 3 was going, mostly, and I thought a 4th season would be able to bring it to a close. In general, I think it was well acted, produced, and had a good to great storyline. I am bummed.

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I agree. The aliens should have been major characters. It would have made it more "believable", as far as sci fi alien invasions were concerned.

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