As NBC pounded the last nail in The Cape’s coffin last week, the internets starting rumbling that the show had fallen victim to the “Summer Glau Curse.”
Thus readeth the curse: Wheresoever on TV Summer Glau doth appear, whether as regular or recurring character, cancellation follows.
In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, let’s examine the facts. First, Summer Glau is awesome. And not just because she can rock a tank top.
Glau is a talented actress – just think about her character Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron was a cyborg, with no emotions, yet Glau brought depth to the character and made us feel what her character could not.
If any of you watched the final TSCC episode without a shiver or tear when Cameron asks John to cut her open, we may have to seriously reevaluate our friendship.
In a Rant column at io9.com, Charlie Jane Anders addresses the curse by examining Glau’s actual track record.
Blaming the demise of Firefly on Glau is just silly. I mean, her character River Tam was one of the most interesting on the show — the queen of unpredictability in a vessel full of unpredictable characters. Firefly seemed doomed from day one, when Fox aired the wrong pilot and put in squarely in the middle of schedule Doomville on Friday night. If you were among the millions who missed Firefly, catch up on DVD or Science Channel. The only curse here is the one Whedonites still throw at Fox.
Glau, as Tess Doemer, was barely in this show. If anything, giving Tess a major storyline near the end of The 4400 was an attempt to revive the ratings. Too late — and certainly not Glau’s fault.
Again, Glau’s minor character Crystal was hardly enough of a presence to affect the fate of The Unit. She appeared for a story arc in one season and the show went on for a couple more. The show was cancelled because people quit watching.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I’ve already praised Glau’s performance in TSCC and I still mourn the loss of this show. It got incredible ratings when it started — it was the highest rated new scripted series that season — but then the writers’ strike happened and the first season was chopped into pieces. Fox renewed it, but put it on hiatus in mid-season them moved it to, yes, Friday. Buh-bye. Unless Glau secretly worked in programming for Fox, she’s certainly not to blame for this one.
Sigh. My rage finally has subsided into irritation and frustration at the treatment of Dollhouse. One of the best shows on TV, Fox doomed it to failure from the start by airing it on Friday. (Do you see a pattern here?) Glau wasn’t a main character in Dollhouse and she was terrific in her story arc as Bennett near the end of the show. The demise of the Dollhouse was due to lack of vision and good taste on the part of Fox.
OK, let’s just blame this one on me. I am one of the multitudes that watched The Cape hoping for a good comic-book-style superhero story. But the couple of episodes I watched didn’t draw me in. Apparently, I stopped watching before Glau’s character Orwell got interesting (forgive me, Lesley Goldberg) — but The Cape’s weaknesses had nothing to do with her.
As Anders points out, the problem is not with Glau, but with the fact that science fiction TV struggles for an audience. Fringe, which is excellent watching, has a loyal following, but weak ratings (and it, too, has been banished to Friday). FlashForward wasn’t brilliant, but it was at least as good as CSI, which goes on season after season. Most sci-fi shows do not, in fact, star Summer Glau — and they get cancelled anyway.
Fair weather fans point to the Summer Glau Curse because Glau has become something of a science fiction icon, with a series of memorable roles. Thus, Anders says, “She’s ripe for a backlash. Because nerds love to hate anybody that nerds love.” Kind of like lesbians do.
Do you believe in the Summer Glau Curse? What is your favorite Summer role? What kind of part would you like to see her in next?