Of the four shows, Freaks & Geeks stands the best chance of surviving NBC's short-term thinking. The show may have had a small following, but it's a rabid fan base that maintains several Websites, all of which began coordinating an effort last week to petition other networks to pick up the show. The sites are running the names, addresses, and phone numbers of network bosses. The show's official site, www.freaksandgeeks.com, asks only that callers "be persistent and courteous." One site, www.haverchuck.org (so named for one of the show's geeks), is planning on taking out an ad in Daily Variety, calling for reinstatement. But as Action's Thompson likes to point out: "Death in this business is pretty permanent."
Feig is optimistic that MTV will pick up the show and run it in its entirety, including the six episodes NBC refused to air -- and the amazing season/series finale, "Discos and Dragons," in which the line between freak and geek becomes blurred. Until that happens the Museum of Television and Broadcasting in New York and Los Angeles will host marathon screenings of the series, including the unaired shows. "MTV wants to make new episodes, but they don't have the budget we need," Feig says. "But other networks are interested. People like our show so much, we're going to get them out there come hell or high water. I vowed as much over the Website. With our show we have this underground network of tapes that go around between the fans. They have this whole thing worked out where you contact someone and for the price of the tape, they will dupe it and send it to you. And if we can't get these other episodes out [on a network], we'll get it out that way. That's the power of the Internet, and that's a small indication of how the Internet will change these networks. And we don't take rejection too well."
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Berg hopes ABC will air the remaining six episodes of Wonderland, but Thompson is more realistic: He knows the corpse has grown cold. At the very most, he wants to release all of Action on DVD, though trying to figure out who owns the damn thing (Columbia/TriStar, Fox, producer Joel Silver, and, ya know, Chris Thompson) won't make it an easy go. "I have to say, I give Fox credit for trying to put Action on," says Thompson, smoothing off the rough edges in his voice. "We treated the audience like grownups. But it could be wrong for networks to treat the audience like grownups. You should drive 40 miles outside of Dallas to a strip mall and look around and say, 'Do I want to treat these people like adults?' Then, maybe, you'll have your answer." The cackle returns. "Death in this business is pretty permanent."