Braga Talks 'Threshold' But Tuesday Ratings May Doom Plan

By Michelle
November 23, 2005 - 5:22 PM

Former Star Trek writer-producer Brannon Braga has big plans for his new CBS series, Threshold, but the show's future is in question after a move to Tuesday nights resulted in a dramatic drop in ratings.

"Paramount and CBS came to me with this project," Braga told "This show is really about an alien conspiracy...but at the end of the day it's about the conspiracy within the conspiracy which is the conspiracy to stop the aliens. That's what the show is really about, and the threat to the Threshold operations."

The series, noted Braga, focuses on "a sort of What if" by an expert in facing disaster scenarios. "What if a nuclear war struck St. Louis, or New York? What if the Bird Flu hit? What are the contingency plans we would have if aliens invaded Earth? It may seem absurd, but in fact in real life a plan like this has been written and that's what she's done," he explained.

In upcoming episodes the core team will find itself overwhelmed with the magnitude of facing the latter problem. "There's a case coming up in the next couple of episodes where Fenway, Brent Spiner [Data]'s character, is getting very overwhelmed with the amount of genetic research he has to do. So they bring in another Red Team member, who is a genetic engineer, played by Catherine Bell from JAG." In addition, the Threshold project's creator, Molly Caffrey (Carla Gugino), will find her competence under fire from a new government official.

"We are a ripped-from-the-headlines show to some degree," said Braga, who talked about dealing with the "morally gray area" of when and whether individual civil rights should be violated in the name of public safety. "The show's most obvious metaphor is does tap into contemporary and primal fears going on."

Braga said that he was optimistic that the show would continue for more than the twelve episodes filmed so far, saying, "I think a lot depends on whether people come with us on Tuesdays." Unfortunately, the news from Zap2It is not good. Last night, in its first Tuesday airing, Threshold brought in only a 4.4 rating/7 share in the fast national ratings. On Friday, November 5th, it had earned a 5.2/9, while on Friday, October 22nd, it had brought in a 5.7/10. Even a Friday night rerun on October 29th earned a 4.4/8.

Yet Threshold cannot return to its Friday night spot, which Zap2It reports has been given permanently to Close To Home. That series was picked up by CBS for a full season following a dramatic rise in ratings in the Friday 9 p.m. time slot following Ghost Whisperer, which skews toward similar female audiences.

Since moving to Friday nights, Close to Home has averaged almost 2 million more viewers than it had on Tuesdays. NBC's Law & Order: SVU dominates the Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot, and it dominated Threshold this week. William Shatner (Kirk)'s Boston Legal did not air this week because ABC aired the American Music Awards, but it is competitive in the time slot as well.

Viewers can watch repeat episodes of Threshold streaming at CBS. And Braga will be discussing the show at his official web site, where fans have been invited to submit questions.

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