‘Fire Country,’ the new TV show about Cal Fire, is a hit. Just not with Cal Fire itself.
“I’m hoping that the show is more of, like, a real fire and a real fireman that we’ve seen on ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ and such, where we’ve seen them on all the different shows together that they’ve participated in,” said Cal Fire’s chief of media and communication, Larry Siegel.
But after weeks of preproduction, Siegel said “Fire Country” has “got to be one of the most disappointing episodes of any reality show I’ve ever seen.”
Cal Fire was hoping for a ratings boost for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” when it aired the pilot for “Fire Country” earlier this year. But the show “is not like ‘Law & Order’: It’s not a drama where you know anything happens next month,” said Cal Fire spokeswoman Marlene Carrión.
The network decided to turn the show into a reality show after a year of “Law & Order” ratings declines, according to Siegel.
Reality shows have been “disappointing in the ratings” for several months, Siegel said.
In addition, Cal Fire has been working with “Fire Country” creator Mike Wartell on a new series for local TV station KALW to fill the time between the show’s production and premiere.
“We’re going to have to let people in,” Cal Fire Chief Paul Bitter said about the new show. “I don’t think we’re going to know that we’re going to get our audience back until it’s air. And we haven’t gotten our audience back on this show and that show, as well.”
While the episodes of “Fire Country” produced by Wartell may not do the ratings justice, he plans to make them into a feature-length film. “Fire Country” will be airing on Cal Fire’s local stations and will be available to view online. In the meantime, viewers are welcome to watch the pilot episode online. “It takes a whole week of preparation leading up to the actual episode,” Carrión said.
Cal Fire’s TV show “Fire Country” airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.
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