Sunday, November 10, 2002 - Joss Whedon is TV's cult hero

If television has a cult hero, it's not the guy with the S on his chest on Smallville. It's Joss Whedon.

His first two TV series, UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the WB's Angel, attract small but rabidly loyal audiences -- 4.6 million viewers for Buffy, 4.3 million for Angel. That's 24 million fewer viewers than CSI, TV's No. 1 show.
Firefly -  TV space cowboys.
Firefly has more viewers than Buffy or Angel, but it is also Whedon's most vulnerable show. That's because it airs on Fox, which has higher viewership expectations than UPN and the WB.

Firefly has struggled. It opened Sept. 20 with a respectable 4.0 rating and 8 share, attracting 6.2 million viewers.

The show dipped after that, reaching its lowest point on Oct. 11 with just 4.3 million fans. But now that baseball is over and the season schedule is finally unfolding, Firefly is inching back up. The Nov. 1 episode drew 4.7 million viewers.

Maybe it's too soon to call the show Fireflop, as one reporter did recently. For the season, the show is attracting an average of 4.9 million viewers.

Asked to describe the show's health, Whedon said, "I think Firefly has a little sinus thing."

Audio: Clip from the Chronicle's interview with Joss Whedon:
• On Fox's decision to postpone airing Firefly's pilot episode

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