Episode 48: That Sinking Viewership Feeling

As much as Captain Clerk wanted to enjoy The Attic, he was summoned away by the one thing a Captain fears most… a Priority One message. They nearly always come directly from Fleet HQ, and are practically guaranteed to be bad news. And of all the Priority One messages Clerk had received in his career, this one was the one he hoped he’d never get.

Naturally, this meant a Senior Staff Meeting had to be called.

Once everybody got there — and Lt. Kato was searched for projectiles — the meeting began… and Clerk had to drop the tsar bomba on everybody.

“Guys, I’m gonna cut to the chase on this one, I–”

“Oh, please, please… can’t we have at least one lame joke beforehand?” Dr. Flüshaht sarcastically interrupted.

Clerk sighed. “As I was beginning to say, I have just received a Priority One message from Fleet Headquarters. It would seem that our ratings have been considerably low of late, and that we are in danger of… being canceled.”

Everyone gasped.

What?” asked Lt. Whatsisname. “How can we get canceled? We’re going on way better adventures than a lot of the other ships in the Fleet. I mean, if the Trepidatious can stay on the air, surely we can.”

“Yeah, but the Trepidatious has pretty much moved over to the Comedy genre, so they’re doing pretty well, actually,” Clerk replied.

“Why do you think we’re having so much trouble?” asked Commander Klaa’ck.

“Well…” Clerk said with a sigh. “I’d blame our timeslot, but you can never be sure when it comes to stuff like this. Look, I’ll be upfront with you guys: I was given almost no details at all. It was like a 30-second message. Just ‘you’re on the verge of being canceled, try to do something about it, have a super day’ and that was pretty much it.”

“Should I go ahead and get the letter-writing campaign started?” Yeoman Rind asked, already looking up the form letters.

Ugh. Not more paper. “No, that won’t be necessary just yet. We’re not canceled now… we just have to really step up our game and try to get our numbers up.”

“Well, the season’s almost over,” Whatsisname said. “So we should have some time to get our act together during the break.”

“That’s what I’m counting on,” Clerk replied. “We’ll have to have a two-pronged attack: brainstorming on good ideas and increasing our promotional efforts.”

“Increasing it from zero, eh?” Flüshaht interjected.

“Isn’t there some some sick person somewhere you could be treating?”

“That’s what I’m doing.”

Walked right into that one. “But we’re going to have to come up with something pretty quickly if we’re gonna stay in business. We don’t want to waste time. We’ve got to get the creative juices flowing now, and get an idea or two to start off with so we can get started on the mandatory Focus Group testing. And you know how long that can take.”

“How about soliciting ideas from the crew?” asked Whatsiname.

Clerk shuddered a bit, but did his best to hold it in. “Hold off on that for now. I’d like to see if we can come up with something first.”

Lt. Wharf raised his hand. “Not to be rude, Captain, but you’re dealing with Senior Officers who had trouble with planning last year’s bake sale.”

“You just had to bring up the bake sale didn’t you?” said Rind, folding her arms.

As murmurs began to rise, Clerk raised his hands and spoke up over the noise. “Hey, hey. We all played a part in botching the bake sale, okay? No single one of us is to blame, and it’s best that we just forget it. Let’s focus on the here and now, alright?”

Wharf slid down in his chair as the other officers quieted down.

“Come on, guys,” the Captain continued. “Surely one of us has an idea. Like… go searching for wherever our Ship’s Counselor is, or… I don’t know… having Communications Officer auditions. I know this is short notice, but we gotta get started on it ASAP. I mean, if we at least have some sort of starting point, we’ll be able to–”

Whatsisname chimed in. “There’s always rigging the transporter. You can really get a lot of mileage out of transporter mal–”

“Only if we can get ourselves a new transporter operator. That robot–”

“Artificial life form,” Whatsisname interrupted.

“–robot, CUL8R, scares me to death. I don’t trust him around that thing when it’s working properly. I don’t even want to think of what he’d do if it were tampered with somehow.”

Suddenly, a loud alarm began to sound. Clerk began looking around to see where it was coming from.

“What is that?” Clerk asked.

“That’s the Red Alert, sir,” said Rind.

“Oh. I didn’t even know we had one of those.”

“Of course we do,” the yeoman answered. “All ships have one. We’ve just never had to use ours.”

Maybe that would explain the low ratings.