Threshold is an American science fiction show only SCI-FI fans remember I think. The show first aired on CBS in September 2005, it was described as thriller, horror and SCI-FI and I think this was correct. It has a stellar cast and I don’t exaggerate! Dr. Anne Molly Caffrey was played by Carla Gugino (Karen Sisco, Spin City, Sin City, Wayward Pines, San Andreas, way, way more), a great actress and a beautiful woman if you ask me. Her acting performance on this show really impressed me! Brian Van Holt as Sean Cavannaugh, hadn’t seen much of him before Threshold but already was an experienced actor with lots TV and Movie work under his belt. His most notable TV role after this was Cougar Town where he plays Bobby Cobb in 91 episodes. Brent Spiner as Dr. Nigel Fenway, does not need any introduction if you are a SCI-FI fan of course. Peter Dinklage who plays Arthur Ramsey, he of course later became very famous with his role on Game of Thrones as Tyrion Lannister. Rob Benedict who plays Lucas Pegg, I knew him from the TV show Alias when Threshold started. Afterwards he has done so many things, like Supernatural, Head case, Bosch, Lucifer and way, way more. Last but certainly not least Charles S. Dutton as J.T. Blalock, acting since 1985, started on shows like The Equalizer, Miami Vice and Cagney and Lacey, did so many things, in 2013-2014 he also had a role on Longmire but the list too long to name.
The producers of this show aren't the least experienced either! - Brannan Braga (Star Trek); David S. Goyer (Batman begins, Dark City, Man of Steal and more) and David Heyman (I am Legend, Gravity and more)
Why am I being so extensive with the naming of the actors and what they’ve done? Well as you can see, these are names to be reckoned with, so much experience in one show, so much quality of actors, the production values were top-notch, the stories were massive, engaging, terrifying sometimes, “at the edge of your seats” stories but still, with so much quality of everything, still a show like that is cancelled after 13 episodes. Well, in fact, it was even earlier, the show was cancelled after only 9 episodes!
Back in those days, don’t know if this is still the case, TV shows, first got a pilot order and after that, if it went to a series order, it got a 13 episodes order and along the way it was decided if the show would be renewed for a full season order of 22 episodes, so 9 more episodes. Although only having had a 13 episode order, the producers had begun planning a 14th episode in case CBS decided to pick it up. So as I said, CBS cancelled the series after 9 episodes and the 14th, called "Head Trip", never made it past paper. The series had a three-year planned arc which would have been reflected in the series title changing to "Foothold" in season 2 and "Stranglehold" in season 3, to reflect terms for the stages of the invasion in Dr. Caffrey's contingency plan.
I tried to find some data about how the show did it in regard of viewing numbers, it aired on a Friday but I believe, in those days, I’ve read it did not have fantastic ratings, but it also wasn’t awful and remember, the Friday is normally not the day you wanna be on with a new show. In my memory I believe they had around 9 Million viewers per episodes, not sure. I did find a 2.3 rating, average(?). Rating of 2.3 are impressive in the present day but in 2005 it was on the low side. CBS, which broadcast Threshold, wanted to boast numbers and changed the air-day to Tuesday. On Tuesday it had to compete with the popular Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and in another week it also had to complete with the American Music Awards. This obviously resulted in a ratings drop which caused the show to get cancelled!
Brannan Braga, one of the producers, told, in an interview, that the cast and crew were told about the cancellation while they were filming the 13th episode “Alienville” With this knowledge they opted to change the last moments of the episode to give the show some closure. The ending of the episode was changed to show Molly having a dream conversation with an alien-human baby (who had been born in the episode, but appeared in the dream as a nine-year-old boy). The boy tells Molly that her Threshold plan will eventually succeed in stopping the alien invasion (the age of the boy implies it will happen within nine years), but that she would herself "not be there" (i.e. die) before this happens.
Three SCI-FI TV shows debuted in the fall of 2005, plus also the popular “Supernatural”
When Threshold came out, there were two more SCI-FI shows seeing the light of day! The first one was Invasion, this was an attempt to copy the success from Lost by the ABC network. And if you ask me, they were quite successful. The other one named Surface, a show which aired on NBC. In that same year, also in September, “Supernatural” started on the CW! As you know Supernatural ran 15 seasons or something, a show that was fun, good action and all, but it got 15 seasons! Invasion, an intelligent piece of storytelling got a full season order of 22 episodes but was cancelled. Surface got 15 episodes, this started out a bit mwah but got more interesting over the course of its first season. But more than 15 episodes it didn’t get. Finally Threshold, already cancelled after 9 episodes, quality TV, quality actors, a thrilling story, it had everything if you ask me. It is mindboggling to me that Supernatural gets 15 seasons while a show like Threshold doesn’t even get 15 episodes. I think this is bothering me still since 2005 because till 2020 Supernatural came back each season and everything I could only think: how is this possible!
Threshold has been released on DVD in only a few continents. In North America it was released on August 22nd, 2006. In Australia it has been released on April 13th, 2011! That’s it as far as I know anyway. It is a 4-disc set, all 13 episodes are on it (obviously). This show comes with Dolby Digital soundtracks in both 5.1 and surround stereo. Video is 1.78.1 widescreen anamorphic image looked pretty good overall.
The Special features:
- Commentary on the two hour long pilot with Executive Producers David Goyer and Brannon Braga.
- Deleted scenes from the pilot
- A 4-part featurette about the show: The Threshold Brain Trust (30+ mins)
- Threshold: Visual Effects (10 mins)
- Behind the Fractal
On the DVD set there is a featurette which shows what more that would be in store for us viewers had the show was given a longer life:
- The series had a three-year arc that would have seen the series change its title each year, from Threshold to Foothold, referring to the next level of Molly Caffrey's plan for a mass alien invasion, and finally to Stranglehold in which a well-established alien presence has appeared on Earth.
- In the episode "Vigilante", it is revealed that Ramsey has a drug and alcohol problem. This would have progressed causing Ramsey to "hit bottom" at one point. Meanwhile, it would be discovered that the abnormality in Ramsey's brain that caused his short stature actually made him immune to the alien infection.
- The Threshold team would learn that 80 more probe ships were headed to Earth.
- The aliens had been sending probes to Earth every 160 years or so, but these probes failed to start widespread infection due to the lack of travel and technology on the planet at the time. The episode "The Burning" hints at this with a buried 320-year-old probe. The episode "Outbreak" continued this arc by having Lucas encounter a 19th-century man in a dream who says he fought and defeated the aliens.
If you read these planned storylines, and you love SCI-FI, you would have to get excited, this should have been something everyone still remembers, at least 3 seasons (planning) but perhaps more. I am disappointed about a lot of shows getting cancelled after half a season or a full season, even two seasons, but Threshold definitely had the potential to become a TV show you and I love and remember but also the mainstream viewers still would remember today! I did not need 15 seasons, who wants 15 seasons of anything, it is beyond me that people still watch shows when they are beyond 7 or 8 seasons, certain exceptions of course. Threshold really deserved more than what it got, real shame to let such a good show go to waste.