Outrun Change

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Initial reaction to soap opera allegedly set in Bakken. Viewership collapses by third episode.

Not a mountain to be seen during flight across North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

Not a mountain to be seen during flight across North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

ABC has a new prime-time soap opera supposedly set in northwest North Dakota. Akin to the old show “Dallas”, the drama is set in the context of the oil industry, this time the booming Bakken region.

Initial reports make me wonder if the writers and producers have even been to North Dakota, let alone set foot inside the northwest part of the state in the last seven years.

Dickinson Press reports on 9/28 that ABC’s ‘Blood and Oil’ gets modest ratings in premiere. First show drew a mere 1.4 rating/4 share. I’m guessing that is good enough to keep the show alive for the moment.

A Reuters article, also in the Dickinson Press on 9/28 reports on the unintended comedic angle: Snow-capped peaks of ‘Blood & Oil’ get panned by North Dakotans. Mountains showing up in the background on a regular basis prompts some viewers to make the show a drinking game. Every time you see a geological farce, like snow-capped mountains common in a reeeeealy flat state, you take a drink.

Lots of wells down there, but not a mountain in sight on flight back to Minneapolis. Photo by James Ulvog.

Lots of wells down there, but not a mountain in sight on flight back to Minneapolis. Photo by James Ulvog.

The show was filmed in Utah because that state provides taxpayer-funded subsidies to filming projects in the state. So with the fine citizens of Utah covering 25% of the production costs, there will be lots of tall mountains in the show.

Williston’s mayor is quoted as saying it is obvious that the show’s creators have never been to Williston. Looks to me like they have merely read a few dozen news reports on the ‘net. In their defense, I’ve read lots of other reports about Bakken written by authors who don’t seem to have ever been in the state.

I hope viewers don’t turn the non-geological errors into a drinking game. Or if they do, they have designated drivers lined up before the show starts.

In some places, there are LOTS of wells. Photo by James Ulvog.

In some places, there are LOTS of wells. Photo by James Ulvog.

For example, the main character wrestles with an attacker in a pool of thick dark crude. Bakken oil is light brown and quite thin. Article suggests you picture thickened apple juice. I think of something close to the color and a little thinner than refined motor oil.

Also, another main character gets a job as a pharmacist even though she dropped out of pharmacy school. You see, those hicks in the midwest don’t even require pharmacists to graduate, let alone be licensed. Hey guys, yeah, you with the whiskey bottle, you get another shot.

Viewership is collapsing by episode three.

Rob Port explains at Say Anything Blog on 10/14: North Dakota Inspired ‘Blood & Oil’ Might Be Canceled After Ratings Fall 40 Percent. Industry stats say the soap opera had 6.3M viewers for episode 1, about 5.2M in week 2, and a paltry 3.82M in week 3.

That is a 17% drop in the second week, another 26% for the third episode, totaling 39.4% over two weeks.

One commenter on the article suggests the show’s ratings are imitating the price of oil.

What oil production curve should have been for last decade according to Peak Oil doctrine. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Possible graph of viewership for first season? Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Mr. Port doesn’t think the collapse in audience is due to showing North Dakota in a negative light. More likely explanation:

I think it’s just a bad show with poor writing, cringe-worthy acting, and a sense that the show’s producers seemed to care very little about the authenticity of the story they are telling. Starting with the choice of snow-capped mountains as the backdrop.

So when do you think a one-disk DVD of the show’s entire run will be available for purchase? Christmas ’15 or Valentine’s Day ’16? Allowing for production time, maybe Memorial Day ’16?

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One thought on “Initial reaction to soap opera allegedly set in Bakken. Viewership collapses by third episode.

  1. Pingback: More film coverage of Williston. ‘Blood & Oil’ ratings drop as production run chopped from 13 to 10 episodes. | Outrun Change

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