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The 411 Douchebag of the Week: The Ash vs. Evil Dead Edition

April 30, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 3 2018

The 411mania Douchebag of the Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of The 411 Douchebag of the Week. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.

This week’s Douchebag of the Week is going to be a little different. It’s about one subject and one subject only. There are no “honorable mentions.” Again, it’s about one subject and one subject only. And what is that subject?

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The recently cancelled Starz show Ash vs. Evil Dead, which just had its series finale April 29th.

The show, in case you don’t know, was a continuation of the Evil Dead franchise that started with the 1981 low budget horror flick The Evil Dead, directed by future A-list director Sam Raimi and future B-movie God Bruce Campbell. There was a sequel in 1987, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, and a third movie, Army of Darkness, which came out in 1992. A sort of remake/reboot was initiated in 2013 featuring a whole new cast of actors and characters and the same basic story as the first movie. The box office success of that movie led franchise principals Raimi, Campbell, and Robert Tapert, to explore a full on continuation of the original story. At first, a fourth movie was proposed, but it was deemed not particularly cost effective. The trio then decided to explore a TV series continuation, an idea that eventually gained traction due to the “peak TV” need for content. Cable channel Starz agreed to fund the proposed show, a teaming that made sense as Tapert and Raimi already had a relationship with the network (Starz produced the Spartacus series). Starz was also the only entity that was willing to give Raimi, Campbell, and Tapert the ability to do the show as they wanted to do it (there were no content restrictions. The show could be as gory and bloody and nasty as it wanted to be). Fans of the franchise rejoiced, as their hero, Campbell’s chainsaw and boomstick wielding Ash would be back. But how would the franchise work as a weekly, half-hour TV show?

The first season, which debuted on Halloween night 2015, showed us that Ash had been living a relatively quiet life since the end of Army of Darkness. He was living alone, in a trailer, and working at some retail place somewhere. He had a friend at that retail place, a young guy named Pablo (Ray Santiago) that looked up to him for some reason. Ash was also perpetually drunk or blazed out of his mind. One night, Ash, while on a “date,” tried to impress a woman with a weird old book he still had in his possession, the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead). Ash read a few passages from the book and, as a result, ended up summoning the old evil that hadn’t reared its ugly goddamn face in damn near three decades. It was all a mistake, of course, but it was a mistake that Ash would have to, eventually, and reluctantly, deal with yet again. The Evil Dead were back, and it was time to go back to work.

The first episode, directed by Raimi, was a hit for Starz, and the channel renewed the show for a second season pretty quickly. The second season, debuting in the fall of 2016 and once again featuring ten half-hour episodes, was also a hit and a third season was commissioned almost immediately. The expectation among the Ash vs. Evil Dead faithful was that the third season would premiere in the fall of 2017. The fall of 2017 came and went and the third season was… delayed. For whatever reason, Starz held the third season until February of 2018. There were a few potential explanations for the delay bandied about. Starz was holding the show because of the return of both The Walking Dead on AMC and Stranger Things on Netflix. Starz just wanted to try a different scheduling scheme. Starz was unhappy with the show and dumped it at a time when the potential audience for it would be diminished. The show somehow got caught up in the politics revolving around Starz’s new owner Lionsgate. Those are the ones that I remember reading about. There were probably others but I don’t remember what they may have been. Regardless of what was really going on, the third season was in the can and ready to air, and Starz was going to air it. Ash vs. Evil Dead was alive.

The third season finally started on February 25th, 2018. Fans were stoked. Ash was going back to school. Ash was going to meet his daughter Brandy, a kid he didn’t know he had. And, at some point, based on the trailers and commercials and artwork and whatnot, Ash was going to fight a giant monster demon thing. The third season was shaping up to be epic. February 25th came and went.

And no one watched.

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Well, some people watched. The show’s rating, inexplicably, was down by more than fifty percent. What the hell happened? Where were all of the Ash vs. Evil Dead fans, the ones that were all over the internets and Facebook talking about the show and the return of their hero Ash and his deadite killing teammates Pablo and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo)? Why the hell were the ratings so bad?

Maybe people just didn’t know the show was back? There were other shows going on (the second half of the new season of The Walking Dead had just begun), there were sports events, etc. The fans would show up again. It was just a momentary blip in pop culture viewing habits. People would get eventually get caught up via DVR and On Demand and whatnot. Later episodes would get the ratings back up to where they needed to be for the show to continue. It would have to happen.

It didn’t happen. The ratings basically stayed the same for each new episode (there were fluctuations up and down, sure, but they basically stayed the same, somewhere around 172,000). Campbell and others involved with the show asked and told fans that if they wanted the show to continue they needed to get involved and get involved fast. They needed to subscribe to Starz and the Starz app. Fans needed to watch the show “live.” Fans also needed to get on social media and let everyone know that Ash vs. Evil Dead was back on, it was awesome, and that it was going to go away if we all didn’t get more involved.

The true diehards stuck around and made noise. No one else did.
The show was officially cancelled on April 20th, 2018. The third season finale was going to be the series finale. Ash vs. Evil Dead was over and the Evil Dead franchise as the world understood it, with Bruce Campbell killing deadites, was finished.

What the hell happened? Where did everyone go?

I don’t know. All I do know is that the people who needed to show up didn’t. And that’s bullshit.

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 2017

Fucking douchebag bullshit.

Douchebag

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And that’s why, this week, the 411 Douchebag of the Week goes to every Ash vs. Evil Dead fan who didn’t fucking show up. I’m not including “international” fans here, the ones who watch the show via their local channels or streaming options, as Starz as we understand it in the United States isn’t available worldwide. All they could do is talk about how much they loved the show and couldn’t wait for its next season to begin. It was up to us, the ones that could get Starz, to keep the show going. Everyone was warned that if we all didn’t get involved the show would be over. Some of us made the effort to get involved. Plenty of us didn’t. And, as I said, that’s just douchebag bullshit.

But Starz sucks, you said. The network didn’t really care about the show. It was easier to watch the show on Netflix, the network that “should” have produced the show in the first place. Or you pirated it because “free is always best.”

How did Starz suck? Starz made the fucking show. It gave Raimi, Campbell, and Tapert the creative freedom to do whatever they wanted. Who else was going to give them the chance to make the show they wanted to make, the show that we eventually got, the one with blood and gore and beheadings and that sequence where Ash was pushed through a corpse’s ass? No one. Not HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Netflix, or anyone else. Starz was the only one who was willing to do it. Did Starz make a mistake when it held the show until the winter of 2018? Maybe, but once you found out what was going on you could have gotten onboard. You didn’t show up, though. You apparently had other priorities.

But Starz was expensive! What isn’t expensive, either in terms of cable or streaming options? If you want a show, you have to pay for it, and Starz was the thing you had to pay for in order to support the show. You didn’t have to subscribe to Starz forever. You could have subscribed for only a few months in order to watch the show. You also could have used the app option for the same reason. But you didn’t. You thought not showing up was the right strategy.

But what about the Netflix option, especially after the show was cancelled? Why can’t the show just go there? First off, why would Netflix pay to produce a show no one wants to watch? And why would Starz, who owns the show, want to get completely out of the Ash vs. Evil Dead business, as there are still years of merchandising money to be made? Netflix isn’t going to pay for something no one apparently cares about, and Starz isn’t going to give up a property that it can still make something out of without a damn good reason (you know, like a giant check from someone. Again, who is going to produce that check?)? S

But what about a fourth movie? Didn’t Bruce Campbell say that even if the show got cancelled that a fourth movie was still an option? The movies were better anyway. At first, Campbell did say that a fourth movie was an option, but that option went away almost as soon as it was printed. Campbell said, multiple times, that if Starz cancelled the show, there would be no fourth movie. He also said that he didn’t want to be involved with Ash vs. Evil Dead without Starz’s involvement. You didn’t show up, the show got cancelled, and Campbell announced that, as a result, he was retiring from playing Ash. No more TV show, no movie, Campbell is done. We all heard it, but only some of us gave a shit. Only some of us fucking showed up.

But what about a spinoff? Couldn’t someone just do a show with the Ghostbeaters team? Who is going to pay for it? And why would you watch that show when you didn’t watch the show with the big star Bruce Campbell?

But what about Starz just “not understanding” the horror audience? I’m mad at them and I’m just going to boycott them from here on out because the network made a big mistake! And what mistake did Starz make? You didn’t show up to watch the show. Why is Starz going to continue to produce new content for you to watch when you told Starz that you weren’t interested and didn’t care? And this “big mistake” argument might have some merit if the ratings for the show stayed the same or got a little bit better than the previous seasons. Then it would be appropriate to ask Starz what the hell it was thinking. The ratings tanked. You didn’t watch. The show is gone now.

But what about Bruce Campbell retiring from the character? Isn’t that the “real” reason the show is over? No, it isn’t. Campbell was set to be involved in the show for the long haul. A five season plan was in place. Why the fuck would he bail on a show that his fans loved, that had good ratings, and, based on the “five season plan,” was just hitting the half-way mark? Campbell is done playing Ash because you told him that you didn’t care anymore. You didn’t watch the show. And now he’s done with it all and moving on to new things. None of that would have happened if you bothered to show up.

So what’s the moral of the story here? If you like something, you have to make an effort to show up for it. You have to pay for it. You have to make the people in charge understand that you want more. You can’t demand more content and then not pay for it. You can’t steal it. You have to show up.

And that’s why Ash vs. Evil Dead is over. That’s why The Evil Dead, as we understand it, is over. And that’s why nerd fandom can suck.

You want to bitch about The Walking Dead still being on? It may suck, but its fans keep showing up for it. Even with a significant ratings drop The Walking Dead is still incredibly popular. You want to complain about Grey’s Anatomy being on for fifteen seasons and being awful? Go ahead, but its fans keep showing up. And the Marvel movies suck? Fine, but people still want to see them, and because people still want to see them Marvel keeps making movies. If you loved Ash vs. Evil Dead so goddamn much, why didn’t you watch the fucking show? Why did you let everyone down?

I don’t know. The only thing I do know is what you didn’t do. You didn’t watch the show. And now it’s gone. Good job, everyone.

Good job.

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