Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good-looking corpse: yea or nay?

Something to keep people occupied while I'm off writing about mobsters in tacky track suits:

Between the "Lost" producers declaring their intention to end the show sooner rather than later, Ron Moore's comments that "Galactica" is entering its third act, and "The Sopranos" and "The Shield" in various stages of wrapping everything up, I'm wondering what people's thoughts are about when/if their favorite shows should call it quits.

It's hard to be more fixated on a show than I was with "NYPD Blue," but I was ready for that show to end long before it did. I feel like the last few seasons, while competent enough, dragged down my opinion of the series as a whole because they kept hitting the same notes that had been played so beautifully in the early seasons. At the same time, I kept getting e-mails through my website from people who were anguished that things were coming to a close; they couldn't get enough of their weekly Sipowicz fix, no matter how watered-down or repetitive it might have been. A few of them even asked me what they could do to change ABC's mind about the cancellation.

We all know that "X-Files" would have been better off ending on Chris Carter's original five-year plan, and I'm sure some of the weak spots in latter-day "Sopranos" have come from David Chase and company trying to stretch out their material past the point of usefulness. I loved the last season, but at the same time I could see how the episodes began losing their momentum halfway through -- right around the point when the writing staff realized they would be doing another batch of episodes after that one. And even "The Shield," which has been remarkably consistent throughout its run, bothers me from time to time with the fact that Vic keeps narrowly escaping justice, year after year.

So, a few questions for the peanut gallery:
  1. On average, would you rather a show you like overstay its welcome just so you can spend more time with the characters, or do you subscribe to the old Branch Rickey "better to trade a player one year too early than one year too late" philosophy?
  2. In the past, what shows do you like that have suffered the most from sticking around too long?
  3. Have any shows that you love seemingly overstayed their welcome, only to have an unexpected creative resurgence towards the end? (I'd put "Cheers," "Frasier" and, to a certain extent, "NYPD Blue" on that list.)
Fire away. Rerun season's a good time for open threads.

66 comments:

Tosy And Cosh said...

Depends on the show, or more specifically, the type of show. I know there are many, many Simpsons fans who wish that the show had ended six or seven years ago and that these past less-than-stellar seasons have irrevocably downgraded the show's overall worth. But for a non-serialized show like the Simpsons, I don't mind. Especially since I think it's easy to overstate the decline in quality any long-running show might experience. Sure, The Simpsons is not as good as it was in season six, not remotely, but it still is of a much better quality, overall, than many fans give it credit for.

Now for a truly serialized show like Lost or BSG, I would rather see a definite endgame, no doubt. The trickier question is for shows that fall in the middle of that spectrum - shows like Gilmore Girls, ER, and The Sopranos that have major long-term arcs to be played out but that also maintain pretty self-contained seasons. In those cases, I tend to again give shows a pretty wide berth. I know many would love to see ER die already, but for me it's still producing engaging, exciting, moving drama on at least a pretty decent basis.

And I also think we have to remember that fans who watch pretty much every episode of a series aren't the only audience to be served. Keeping with the ER example, I only really started watching regularly five or six years ago. So for me the sense of rehashing old ground isn't as strong as it might be for a devoted fan who's been watching since 1994. And for the producers to keep going to serve those fans I think is eminently fair.

Louis said...

There are so many shows that have overstayed their welcome, Seinfeld being the most prominent in my mind. Cheers is another great example, and while I agree it experienced a creative resurgence, that resurgence was brief -- maybe the last three or four episodes of the series' run. I still love watching reruns of both shows from their heydays, but their legacies are tainted.

Meanwhile, the shows that end while they're peaking -- or even prematurely -- won't suffer the same way. Barney Miller and Arrested Development leap to mind. And you know you'll never see a disappointing episode of The Wire.

Anonymous said...

You know, if you had asked me last year, I would've said The O.C. is a show that should've quit after the third season jumped the shark so hard, but the fourth season was just as fresh and perhaps due to it being shorter, a more perfect season than even the first.

I think "Arrested Development" is a show I would've taken for several more seasons. "Family Guy" is a show that so many of us clamored for its return, and yet, maybe because of "American Dad," it's disappointed more often than it makes me say, "I'm glad it's back."

"Oz" is another favorite that on more than one occasion lost me.

"Veronica Mars" is a show that I want in any form, even if it's an FBI show just because the writing on it is so good, and when the show is on, it's untouchable.

I hope "Heroes" keeps up its quality for as long as it can and doesn't overstay its welcome.

I think "ER" should've died a long time ago and no matter how many new cast members it brings in, I still won't care about it.

Anonymous said...

Really great discussion topic!

And one that could not be more relevant right now given the fates of Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars. I DEFINITELY prefer quality over quantity. And I look to the great British shows as a perfect example of how a series should bow out while at the top of its game. Imagine how people would look back on Ally McBeal had Fox and David E. Kelley said "enough!" after the first two years. It would be a complete classic. Instead it's looked back on as something of a joke.

However, I know there are A LOT of fans who want their shows on the air no matter what. The phrase "I'll take the show any way I can get it" has come up numerous times in regards to Veronica's possible shift in setting. But in my opinion, what's the point? I'd much rather see the show bow out gracefully than completely abandon everything that once made it good just so it can squeeze out a few more episodes. Same with Gilmore Girls. If the show ends this year they'll have to rush the Luke & Lorelai reconciliation that everyone wants to see. But I'd much rather see that than watch the show drag on for another 22 episodes just so the diehards (who refuse to let the show go after 7 years, the last several of which have been of substandard quality) can get what they consider the "perfect" conclusion.

As for shows that stayed on the air too long and tarnished their legacies: Buffy is the prime example. The first 5 seasons were incredible. Had the show ended with Buffy's death it would have been probably the greatest series in TV history. But instead they came back for another 2 years. And its impossible for me to remember that show now with anything but mixed feelings.

Tina said...

Homicide: Life on the Street had a sharp decline after season 5 (some would probably say season 3 or 4) but I loved it and watched it to the end. The West Wing, though, is an example of a show whose later seasons dragged down my love of the series as a whole. Alias became downright silly in its final season. And I can't even remember why I loved Gilmore Girls at all, it's so frustrating to watch now. I'm one of those people who stick with a show to the end, no matter what (ER being an exception) so that can lead to a lot of disappointment.

As for NYPD Blue -- it was still good in later seasons but nothing special, like its electrifying first few years. I appreciate the fact that it kept its dignity and integrity to the end, if those aren't strange words to apply to TV.

I agree that where shows with standalone episodes can run forever, serialized stories should leave us wanting more. I'm hoping for one more knockout year of both BSG and The Wire, and I'll be happy. With The Shield and The Sopranos also winding down, that will leave some holes in my weekly viewing, but trusting the creators of the shows, I want to see them bring their stories to a proper end.

Anonymous said...

This is why I think Scrubs (so bad this year) and Prison Break (where else can they possibly take it??) should have ended this year. But since everyone thinks there's money to be made they'll be back.

I do like the British model, and often feel less is more, but I also think Ricky Gervais sometimes seems a little lazy with his insistence on ending his shows so soon. The US Office has surpassed the UK version in my opinion, in part because they took the time to really develop the background characters and really get you invested in the Jim/Pam relationship. There's no way that could ever have been accomplished in only 12 episodes over 2 years.

Finding shows that hit creative strides late in the game is tough. Of shows already mentioned, Scrubs was actually really funny last year, The OC had a good year this year, and Gilmore Girls was great 2 years ago. Friends best seasons were probably the 5th and 6th seasons, which are pretty late in the game. But more often than not, once a show has jumped the shark it's impossible to come back. And some of the examples you site, Alan, only saw creative upticks near the end because it was the end and the creators were pulling out all the stops.

Jennifer said...

I really, really wish American television producers (and the advertisers they seek to please) would be given more latitude to say look, we're developing a show, and we know we want it to run for exactly three seasons, no more, no less. It would be brilliant. Writers could build the entire arc of the show with a set deadline in mind, so that they become more like episodic movies rather than a weekly brain-dump in which the writers try to tease out a plot. And for shows (like Lost) that rely on byzantine mythology, I believe that a fan base is far more likely to invest its time knowing that the show won't drag on and on and get completely bogged down in its own mystery (like X-Files).

Ricky Gervais is, in my mind, the gold standard for this. With both "The Office" and "Extras" he managed to contstruct two brilliantly funny shows and call it quits at the perfect point in the game. Sure, he could have easily gotten another few seasons out of both, but as they stand now they're these wonderful little gems of television.

But TV (and entertainment in general) is so profit-driven that it's very, very rare that a successful show is allowed to stop at the most logical point. A network is far more likely to squeeze every last drop of revenue from a show, even when it's way past its prime (see: Frasier).

Toby said...

I've always said that had 'The Sopranos' been one season, with Tony smothering his mother with the pillow, it would have been a GREAT series. But it's dragged on for far too long, with meandering boring storylines and with David Chase even stealing his own plotline from an episode of 'The Rockford Files'!

It's still a good series, and I will watch to the end to see how it all turns out, but my enthusiasm for it has been long gone.

Anonymous said...

Part of this is the American television season model, which forces networks to come up with 22 to 24 hours of material. Good ideas stretched so thin turn to crap. Based on the last two seasons, I would much rather see Jack Bauer for a half day than a full day. The HBO shows and British shows as well have been succesful because they map out a season over 6 to 14 episodes and then call it a season. Maybe they come back and do another, maybe not, but that works. Look at "Rome," which was excellent at two seasons and only a handful of episodes per season. The American model permits a show to overstay its welcome if the ratings are acceptable, and because network shows must be dumbed down for a mass audience, well, there you go.

Eric said...

Here's an interesting case: Babylon 5. It was conceived of from the beginning as a five-year-long saga, but renewal was shaky each year. JMS wrote and filmed a final episode wrapping up the entire show at the end of Season 4 that they then held back and showed after Season 5. Yet if it had ended after Season 4, it would have been more satisfying, I think. Season 5 introduced too many new plotlines and characters that didn't add much, and the loss of Claudia Christian as Ivanova sucked out some energy from the show. There were some good episodes here and there, but I think the overall arc suffered.

I will put up with a lot of the substandard Seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy if only because we got "Once More With Feeling" and the Nerds of Doom.

Sara Anne said...

I agree that the latter seasons of The West Wing were disappointing as were the later Homicides...both of which I loved..to a point.

The flip side of that being shows like Sports Night and My So-Called Life getting cut before they were finished but also before they had the chance to not be good...

I also loved Six Feet Under, but the last season and a half were just...not good anymore. So I'd say I'd rather have a show I love go out on a high note (forced or not...I miss you, Deadwood)rather than stick around too long...cuz also, if you feel you haven't spent enough time with the characters, you end up getting the shows on DVD...the seasons that you like, of course.

Taleena said...

Not long Enough on air? Rome for sure. Firefly and Arrested Development.

It is easier to think of shows that have outstayed their welcome than not. I think BSG will come in just right given the unevenness this last season in story telling.

I really liked Millenium and while the fans have done an admirable job of creating 2 more seasons worth of scripts to resolve the story line I doubt that Chris Carter et. al. could have sustained quality into two more seasons.

Lost seems to be shaping up that way. I think the fans could create satisfying storylines better than the actual writers are.

Pandyora said...

Great point about the American television season model, anonymous. I've always enjoyed the miniseries format of British television which seems to force writers to think in terms of contained story arcs.

(Although there are exceptions to this, see Spooks, which has dragged on too long and suffered after the departure of Matthew Macfadyen).

As for shows that overstayed their welcome, I'd second the nominations of MASH, West Wing, NYPD Blue, Homicide, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

As for shows that hit a minor upswing near the end of their run, I'd include Angel (the Season 5 Wolfram and Hart plot especially) and Six Feet Under (the decision to kill Nate being particularly inspired).

My wife has this theory that 5 seasons is about the perfect amount of time for a serial television series, the idea being that each season can loosely mirror the dramatic structure of a five act play.

Indeed, its hard to think of a dramatic, story driven series that has managed to be consistently strong after five seasons of 20+ episodes.

Of course, part of this might be as much a function of turnover in the writing staff (as creators of successful shows move on to bigger and better pastures) as it is some limitation imposed by the requirements of good storytelling.

Brian said...

I don't think the problem with most dramas is overstaying their welcome or ending too early, it is, as Jennifer points out, that creatively the producers are working with too much uncertainty. When you begin, you're not sure if you're going to make it to the end of the season so you have to create certain escape valves. Once you're successful, you have to stretch the story to stay on the air. Or, if you suffer a rapid decline in ratings, you have to tack on an ending. Twin Peaks is a pretty good example of a show where all of these things happened and definitely ruined the creative vision.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree it would be great if going in creators knew the show was only going to be on for X number of seasons (and I agree 5 or 6 seasons is usually the max a show should go.) But creators also have to be able to roll with the punches a bit. Like if an actor is a troublemaker and needs to be written out or if a storyline just isn't working.

The one thing I will say in favor of the US tv model is that at least actors are signed to long-term contracts. This doesn't seem to be the case with the UK tv model which often results in there being several years between seasons since people become unavailable or actors suddenly deciding they don't want to come back.

rukrusher said...

The beauty of TV is that you can end it anytime you want. I enjoyed ER up until the season Carol left. Then I just stopped watching, it was in my mind a perfect way to end it. The fact that the hospital has new doctors and new patients does not interest me, I ended the show and have not looked back.

I think House might need to end based on the writers insistence of driving him to deeper and deeper bottoms. But I would not mind if the show just had House move to LA and start all over. I would watch House among the shiny happy people and interacting with the celebrity class.

I loved Rome and clearly felt the last two episodes of the season forced things in to tie up stories. They could have done seven or eight more episodes in my opinion.

Carnivale was six episiodes two long.

Six Feet Under, again, I just stopped watching when I felt it slip and had no problems with that.

Homicide, I liked Homicide to the end because I felt, and still feel that it was better then anything else I was watching at the time.

The Wire, Every episode a treat. I will hate to see it end.

The Sheild, I agree, the way Vic keeps escaping is getting old. I think David Simon pointed out in his interview to UBM, the reality of the system is that an individual like Mackey would never be able to act this independently for so long, the politics and road blocks would have caught up to him long ago. Hence the reason McNulty had to give up, the energy to buck the sytem is too much.

I think South Park is very consistent but that format is more a comic strip for TV.

Overall I agree that serialized dramas on Prime Time need a definite ending. When that is however is a case by case basis.

~CW~ said...

I think The OC is a great recent example of a show that gained back a lot of fans after a crappy seasons two and three with the way they closed it. Now when someone watches Season One, as my roommate is doing now, I can gladly tell him that if he wants to make the commitment, Season Four is worth watching again as well.

Buffy is the perfect example of a show I never wanted to end yet it probably would have been better if it had after Season Five. As already mentioned in this thread, the ending of Season Five was relatively perfect, and while the last two seasons had their high points, they were rather uneven and not up to snuff with the rest of the series. Of course, if it ends after "The Gift", we never get "Once More, With Feeling", so that's a good trade-off, I guess.

Richard Cobeen said...

I think MASH is the ultimate example of a series that overstayed its welcome. It suffers from the McCartney Syndrome, where all the annoying, maddening, tiresome aspects an artist displays later in a career (when attitudes and styles have calcified) infect the earlier, greater work. I can't watch early MASH without reflexively shuddering every time it gets sanctimonious. Those early years are almost lost to me, just as McCartney's later failings have infected too many of his early performances (not all. "I Saw Her Standing There" is still one of the greatest lead tracks to an album). NYPD Blue is another show I can no longer watch for the same reason.

Rick said...

I've recently been saying to people that I'd be willing to sacrifice a second season of Friday Night Lights in order to get a fourth season of Veronica Mars. The way I see it, Friday Night Lights is such a magnificent series if it ended after one season it'd be put in the pantheon of television achievement. Veronica Mars on the other hand is just so much fun to watch I could see it going for a few more years even if those seasons declined a bit in quality. (Not like the ratings for FNL would suggest that it has the potential to run for 8 years -- or even two).

Richard Cobeen said...

Also, as much as it kills me that I will never know what happens to Lindsay and Kim after they go off with the Dead Heads, I think Freaks and Geeks is incredible and stood the chance of being ruined eventually. I at least have my near perfect 19 episodes to rewatch and have now handed that love down to my children, who live the reality created by Apatow and Feig.

Susan said...

I actually think "The West Wing" is a show that, for me, went downhill and then experienced a resurgence at the end. Seasons 5 and 6 were painful. Bad couplings (Will and Kate?!), bad stories (Zoey's kidnapping), the loss of snappy dialogue and a president we couldn't help but love. But I really liked the shift in the last season, with the focus going back and forth between the White House and the candidates on the campaign trail. I felt it gave the show back some tension and some dignity.

"ER" should have died ages ago. I was obsessed with this show in the beginning. I stopped watching when Carol left and came back to watch Mark die. Now I see commercials and I'm like, "Bus crashes into the ER? Whatever, didn't they do that twice already?" I don't even know who the people in the cast are anymore.

In general, I would rather have the show die early, go out on a good note, and leave us with good memories. I think it's sad that great shows have to keep going just because they have decent ratings and still bring in ad revenue. It takes all the art and creativity out of it and makes it purely business.

The only show I admit to wanting it to stay on even though it was past its prime was "Quantum Leap." The last two seaons were bad, filled with gimmicks like Sam being famous people or three-part mystery trilogies. But I loved that show and didn't want it to end. And it went out with a fantastic final episode.

Marsha said...

The quintessential example of a show that went on too long is LA Law. Great show for a while, hideos at the end. The phrase "jump the shark" might as well be placed by "fall down an elevator shaft."

Murphy Brown went on too long, but did have a resurgence. I could watch Murphy try to figure out parenthood over and over again. "Sway, sway...pat pat pat."

ER needs to go. I'm with Branch Rickey (as on so many other things).

David J. Loehr said...

Depends on the show. I could probably watch "Slings and Arrows" and "The Wire" for as long as they wanted to run. On the other hand, part of their excellence is their short, well-planned lifespans. I was happy to watch "Homicide" for its full run, because I liked the storytelling, the characters and the setting, but I've got a soft spot for Baltimore anyway; I didn't feel the show was quite as good without Andre Braugher, but I think most people see Jon Seda and immediately say no, the show's gone downhill. The film they made to wrap up the series was okay up until the last act, because that was one long scene with Braugher and Kyle Secor, and that scene was tremendous. (Does that count as a creative resurgence?) "Barney Miller" was wonderful, and I could have watched that forever.

Shows that stayed too long? "MASH," "NYPD Blue," "Cheers," "West Wing," the usual suspects. "Seinfeld" should have ended before the finale. "X Files," of course. "Fraiser," I'm sorry to say. "Arrested Development" may have stayed a little long, actually; the whole Charlize Theron storyline went on waaaay too long, but they got their mojo back by the ending. "Scrubs" seems to be righting itself this season, but it scared me for a while there. "Studio 60" should have stopped after the pilot. (But "30 Rock" has had an amazing turn for the sublime. Go figure.) "ER" by several years; I'd say it wasn't much interested post-Clooney, and having watched with med students when it premiered (at U Penn, btw), I know it was never all that accurate. And I'd say "SportsNight" suffered in its second season.

As much as I love Bob Newhart, I thought that "Newhart" was never very good; for me, it exists only for the last episode, which is an extreme creative resurgence. And as for "Cheers," the only reason that suddenly bounced back at the very end is because the last five or six episodes were written by the dream team of writers who'd written the series early on, when it was more about characters than dopey plots, like Heide Perlman and Sam Simon and Angell/Casey/Lee. I loved the show and watched it till the end, but it was never quite the same after Shelley Long left, and I do not like Shelley Long. But I can't really think of any shows I've loved that had that surge at the end (sorry, "Frasier").

Now, "The Simpsons" and "South Park" are in a different league. I think we should compare them to comic strips and other such commentaries. In fifty years, there were some Peanuts strips that just didn't work, but it doesn't lessen the overall genius of Schulz. Nobody turns off "A Charlie Brown Christmas" because they were scarred by the creative bankruptcy of "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown." These shows are turning out satire and commentary, and in the case of "Simpsons," decent stories, and that's a whole 'nother ball of wax compared to a sitcom or drama.

Anonymous said...

As hard as it is to let go, I have to agree with the philosophy that it is better for a show to leave in it's prime than to just hang on. As someone has already posted, Buffy should have ended at the end of it's 5th season. While Season 6 had a few moments of brilliance like the Musical and Tabula Rasa - overall the quality was so poor that it hurt the show more than it helped to have the extra two seasons.

And this year, I have sadly come to the conclusion that Veronica Mars should have been cancelled at the end of it's brilliant first season or it's uneven ast season. This year the show has had such an up and down quality that it has now tarnished the show for me. I for one have no desire to see Veronica Mars FBI because she has become the most disliked character on the show in my eyes. I watch now only for Jason Dohring.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I actually don't think The Mary Tyler Moore Show (or, technically, Mary Tyler Moore) had a bum season in its run, which was seven years long. Then again, I'm a lot more charitable to late Cheers and I'm not horribly familiar with Barney Miller (haven't seen every episode because it runs so sporadically, and the DVD sets petered out), which ran EIGHT seasons.

I actually think a sitcom or cartoon can have a longer, more interesting run than most dramas, though procedurals can certainly go on for years. Whenever you're telling a single story in each episode, the potential is always there for one writer or one director to hit it out of the park.

But five seasons would seem to be just about the perfect number for the "most" a heavily-serialized drama could run and make sense. There are exceptions -- Prison Break might have been better off hanging it up last season.

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed by the thoughtful comments by everyone above!

I love the comment above that you can leave the shows whenever you want. I've done that frequently, with NYPD Blue, ER, Law & Order, X-Files, etc., sometimes only a few years into their runs. I've even given up on The Simpsons, whose first 7-8 seasons are among the best television anywhere.

As far as shows hurt by going on too long, while I agree in principle about L.A. Law, if it had ended earlier, we wouldn't have gotten John Spencer's unforgettable Tommy Mullaney, who I still think of more than Leo McGarry as Spencer's perfect role.

Babylon 5, also mentioned here, is an interesting case. Was the 5th season a letdown? Sure. Did it fit the structure of a book, where the climax occurs about 3/4 through, and the remainder is resolution and conclusion? Yes, it did. The loss of Ivanova was huge, and the show somehow felt more cheap & plastic-y, but I was glad it got a chance to breathe and tie everything together nicely. 13 episodes might have worked better for that.

I agree that Buffy would've been far superior if it had ended after S5. Although it had some good shows in S6, and maybe one in S7, possibly, dramatically S5 was the place to end it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You guys are good! You've articulated most of the pro-con arguments I wish I had if I'd had more time, and then some.

Couple of points on specific shows:

-I would say it wasn't just the last handful of Cheers episodes that was an improvement, but that entire final season. There was a concerted effort from the season premiere on to turn Sam back into a human being again instead of the idiot manchild he'd become in the later Rebecca seasons, and the show was vastly better for it.

-Barney Miller really faded for me towards the end as the squadroom shrunk and more of the load kept being put on Ron Carey's small shoulders. Not to speak ill of the recently-deceased, but Levitt was always my least favorite character on that show.

-The finale aside, the last year of Seinfeld was one of the series' strongest, in part because Puddy became a semi-regular, in part because the writers totally embraced the shift into surrealist fantasy. "The Burning" and "The Maid" in particular are two of the 10 best episodes ever.

-While there's certainly something to be said for seeing the finish line approaching and trying harder
("Frasier" or "The O.C.," for instance), plenty of shows know the end's in sight and still can't pull out of the tailspin ("Friends"), while others just coincidentally improved in that last year. ("West Wing," for instance, essentially turned into its own spin-off.)

Dennis Wilson said...

Dirt has already been on too long, and it's only in its first season.

As for the oft-mentioned M*A*S*H, its decline was less a function of time than the result of original writersshow runners Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds exiting the show and leaving it to new people who couldn't write those characters. Ditto for Married... with Children when Leavitt and Moye left, for All in the Family / Archie Bunker's Place, when Tolkin and Rhine left, for Dallas, when Philip Capice was forced out, and many, many other examples.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dennis, original writer departure is usually the number one cause of decline, but sometimes a show is better off with the creator's absence after a while. To go back to "West Wing" again, the final Wells season was better than either of Sorkin's last two years, and Milch leaving "NYPD Blue" was something of a blessing; though the show never again reached the heights he was capable of, it became more consistently watchable than it had been in several years.

Anonymous said...

Usually the creator leaving a show is a bad thing. But in some cases I think it is actually for the best. As talented as Amy Sherman-Palladino may be, her last season of Gilmore Girls was barely watchable. And the fact that she's repeatedly defended the introduction of April is a signal to me that she's completely lost it. This season may not be the greatest, but I give Dave Rosenthal credit for at least turning crap into crap-ade.

And I can't believe I'm even bringing this show up, but I think Charmed got significantly better when the original creator Constance Burge, who favored stand alone episodes, left and was replaced by Brad Kern, who favored season-long arcs. I also think the show actually benefited from outside circumstances taking over as the loss of Shannen Doherty and introduction of Rose McGowan gave them a lot of good dramatic material they never would have been able to mine otherwise. Of course, it was still a mediocre show and definitely stayed on the air a season or two too long.

BlueNight said...

Does anyone remember Exo Squad? It was a drama-themed space cartoon. It led us through a police action that was cover for a conspiracy to take over the solar system. It led us through the capture and rebellion of Earth, and the eventual downfall of a Machiavellian ruler.

It lasted two seasons, and had a lasting effect on its young fans.

The final episode tied into a third season that was never made, but I personally feel it was exactly the right length.

And I miss Daybreak. That would have been a perfect one-season or two-season show. Two seasons max, though.

Lindy said...

Tina: "Alias became downright silly in its final season."

Ah Alias, how you vexed me. The first two seasons were almost perfect escapist TV, but after the two-year jump the show was never the same. I think it would have been much better to end the show early rather than bring in Lauren and the zombie virus.

DonBoy said...

On The Shield: I'm kind of unhappy that this upcoming season isn't the end, since all of us who have been watching know exactly what Vic will have to do eventually, and that act should be what he finally goes down for.

Rain said...

I've always had the opinion that I WANT my favorite shows to become sucky and then end, instead of going "out on a high note." If the show is begining to suck, then I don't really mind if it gets cancelled. But if a show is doing just fine creatively, and then ends, well, that's sad.

That said, I would really like to see more series start out with a definite end and timeframe for reaching that end. I think three or four seasons is probably good enough for most shows--which is why I think they should start basing more TV shows on pre-existing stories--like books or comic books--and make really, really long "mini-series"....

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Veronica Mars, I think, was doomed to be somewhat disappointing after its first season, if only because that season's setup was so strong and so compelling. You just can't top the Lilly Kane case in an ongoing series, and that's fine, but it means everything afterward is going to have something of a "whatever happened to..." feel.

jim treacher said...

I'm still hold out hope for "24." Not that it's any sillier than it's ever been, but more and more it just seems like a mix-and-match from previous seasons.

Tosy And Cosh said...

"That said, I would really like to see more series start out with a definite end and timeframe for reaching that end."

Rain - I agree, but to me it all depends on the series. A show like Lost or Prison Break or Freaks and Geeks or even The West Wing has a natural end to its story that would be well-served to be designed around. But a show like ER isn't telling one long story, it's telling a series of stories centered around a hospital. And to me, a series like that needn't be designed with an end in mind, especially if as time goes by some characters leave and new ones arrive.

Anonymous said...

Great Analysis Everyone, but much like relationships and bad jobs, I think we can hardly ever make the exit "at the exactly right time". There may be some regrets if we leave too early or pain if we leave too late, but that seems to be the way it goes.
With a beloved show, the audience feels part of the family, (certainly before Tivo, it took up a designated space of time in our lives), so its hard to walk out on friends and family with a shove or them leaving us.
For me, WKRP in Cincinnati was the show that I wished had lived on. It was still at a high creactive level, at the time, though in retrospect, some elements of that show would have gotten rickety after another season or so.
But I still look out for plummetting turkets and the phone cops.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post. Once I get into a show I have a REALLY hard time walking away from it. I also have a really hard time getting into a show if I haven't been watching since day one. But I also probably take my TV a little more seriously than most people :-)

One show I was able to walk away from was That '70s Show. I stuck with it for WAY longer than I enjoyed it, mostly because I wanted to see it through. But once it was announced the show would be coming back without Topher and Ashton I finally decided enough was enough.

Brian said...

I think it's best to think of what a show's mission is to determine if/when it should end. Basically, when the mission, however defined, is over the show should be over or should continue with another mission under a new title. Even sitcoms can be given a mission statement, but I think it's easier to change missions on a sitcom. Let's review some of the shows discussed and see if they have a clear mission statement and what that tells us about when they should end:
- ER: I would say the mission here is to reveal what it's like being an ER doc in a major metro hospital. They set up that mission in the pilot when Green kept trying to sleep and was woken up. I don't watch it anymore, but it seems like they have a new mission, soap opera + crisis of the week.
- Friends: show what life is like for a bunch of single yuppies. Should've ended earlier b/c they grew up.
- Homicide: To speak truth about a homicide dept in a city. This show could have kept going forever as long as they told fresh stories. Those who feel it should have ended earlier, like me, prob felt like they ran out of things to say.
- Every HS show (OC/BevHills/F&G): to relate the high school experience/coming of age experience. So, F&G ended too early b/c they didn't get through it and Bev Hills 90210 lasted two long b/c they changed missions (the mission on 90210 (and the OC) was really to explore how two outsiders fit into their swank new zip code, so once that was done, the show should have been).

Some shows can change missions just by tacking on a new name like Saved by the Bell the College Years.
BTW, this is why The Wire works so well. They have a clearly defined mission/theme (institutions and their effects on individuals/society) and each season is a look at that theme from a different POV/institution. David Simon has said there are a set # of institutions/themes and then he has nothing more to say.

Dan Coyle said...

Bluenight: I remember Exo Squad. For a kids' show that series tackled some tough issues. I remember the animation particularly at the end becoming horrifically downgraded, though.

99.9% of the time, I prefer the show to go out before it wears out its welcome. I still think Farscape should have ended with D'Argo screaming "NOOOOOOOO!!" in a terrific display of overacting.

Signs are certain that BSG is going to that great Cylon raider in the sky after 4x22, and that's probably for the best.

The one show I could have probably watched forever was Twin Peaks. I also didn't want The X-Files to end with so much left hanging, likewise Millennium. However, the problem is, I wouldn't want Chris Carter and/or Frank Spotnitz to be involved in any future endeavors.

Of course, XF is the poster child for sticking around too long. The show got so awful... and yet, IT'S NOT FINISHED. That ticks me off.

Sopranos began a creative slide off the rails in season 4 that it really hasn't corrected since; did ANYTHING memorable happen in S4 aside from the one obvious event? Granted, there were some well executed scenes and events, but lord was it frustrating. S5 was much improved, but S6 gave us extremely well staged, written, and entertaining episodes that didn't move the story at all or tell us anything new.. Oh well.

Shows that experienced a creative resurgence? Six Feet Under definitely did, at the end of its final season. Resolved everything quite nicely. The O.C., of course (but that finale went on and on and on...). Angel got unexpectedly brilliant in the first half of its final season... then Whedon's usual fetishes for dead girls and end of the world plots gummed up the works for an irrtating cliffhanger to nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I like to think that a show needs to say what it is going to say, be itself, and then be done. The BBC has a host of great shows that only ran for a few series. The Office comes to mind.

There are a number of shows on today that I feel have lost their stride and would have been better had they ended sometime ago. Gilmore Girls is a show that has run out of ideas and is a collection of contrivances, much as The Office could become if the Jim/Pam storyline is not closed.

Sure, you could do any number of "quotideien" stories about life in the fleet on Battlestar Galactica and their race against the Cylons, but dramatically, it has more punch if it comes to an end in the next 22 episodes. After the true "Final Five" are revealed and the path to Earth revealed, the show needs to end.

Eventually, with any show, it will all be over except for the fouling and the timeouts and then what's left? Do we add more time on the clock just because it was a good game? The characters are intriguing when they are at their dramatic or comedic best, not their worst. Friedns was much more amusing before Ross was a complete loser and he kept getting divorced. Does Rory/Logan really seem genuine? Do we need to see life with Mrs. Ted after we found out How I Met Your Mother?

Better yet, would Casablanca be better or worse had there been a coda attached to it?

Kat said...

Good questions! Let's see. I would rather the show end on a really strong note. I think the UK version of The Office is the perfect example. It ended on an incredibly emotional point and then the Christmas specials were a perfect way to round out the story.

As much as I adore ER and will watch it simply because I have for years, it needs to go. Once all the original cast members have left the show, it's time to move on. I think it's time for Gilmore Girls to end, too - I only hope the rest of this year is strong so it ends on a high note.

I never liked Friends, but it did have a creative resurgence of sorts towards the end. So did The West Wing, after its Sorkin-less slump.

I guess I just like to see shows run a creative rather than a financial course. Certain shows, like procedurals or reality TV, can really go on forever. But character-driven TV? It gets stale. Thinking about it, the shows that really stand the test of time are shows that were cancelled before their time and never got a chance to suck - Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, etc.

David J. Loehr said...

Alan--

On "Cheers," I agree with you about Sam, and that was a monumental and much needed turnaround in that last season. I just found everyone else a little too cartoonish by that point--Rebecca had rarely been anything but--at least until the very end. (Full disclosure: I live in Hanover, Indiana now, and not only do I know and work with Woody's first real acting teacher, I even know the real Uncle Fergie. And no, no one in Hanover cares one way or the other about French Lick.)

And I agree with you on the final season of "Seinfeld." The finale is maybe one of the only episodes I can't stand.

And you're right, "Barney Miller" wasn't quite the same after Jack Soo passed away. The older the show got, the quieter it got, which isn't always a bad thing, but you're right, more Levitt was never a good thing. I do miss Steve Landesberg. (In a perfect world, it might be fun to see one of them pop up in one of the "Law & Order" shows. If Richard Belzer can keep going, then why not?) I think one of the reasons I still love the show overall is that it created and populated a real universe of its own, so that even though you only saw Kotterman a few times, you really felt it when his liquor store was robbed for the last time. "Night Court," which was sort of an off-shoot in a way (sharing a lot of writers in the beginning), tried for a similar, shallower thing, but only came into its own when it embraced its own surreal side, and then it stayed on at least five seasons too long.

This is a great topic, by the way...

Anonymous said...

Shows that left too soon that have yet to be mentioned here already: Wonderfalls and Grosse Pointe. And Deadwood – which someone did mention but I bring it up again just so I can say – Damn you Milch!

And I'll be the lone voice in favor of Buffy seasons 6 and 7. I loved 6 and while I felt 7 was flawed, it redeemed itself for me. I think people need to remember that just because you didn't like a particular direction or storyline doesn't mean the show's quality necessarily suffered. To me, Buffy always maintained its high standards even if I didn't always agree with or particularly enjoy certain aspects (I'm lookin' at you Kennedy!)

Besides, if you end after season 5, then Buffy’s story is a tragedy. She just another slayer, in a long line of slayers who fight and die. And that wasn’t the story Joss wanted to tell. He wanted to tell the story of a girl who wouldn’t just accept whatever fate dealt her – rather she wanted to live (and die. And live again) on her own terms. Which she does and ultimately she changes the world.

Sorry for the Buffy tangent – old habits (even really old ones) die hard.

Back on topic – shows that should have ended much sooner: X Files will always be the epitome of this to my mind. Twin Peaks also didn’t know when to let the head lie down. And 24 this season is rapidly proving it should have quit last year if not the year before.

Shows I fear are headed that way: Jericho – this would have been perfect as a one season show but by trying to make it a bigger, longer story they are really undercutting their pretty cool concept. Ditto with The Nine (now cancelled I think) – if they would have let it be one intense, jammed full season it would have been awesome, but by trying to make it something that could last multiple years it just took the steam out of it and wrecked it. Lost and Prison Break: both dance close to this line but I still have faith they will pull it together. And as far as Prison Break goes – I don’t really care how nutty it gets as long as they keep moving and having fun with it.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of a show having a "mission" is interesting, but it's usually not the mission that draws viewers, it's the characters. Prison Break has tried to come up with a new "mission" every year, but people really only tune in because they like the characters. Same with 24. After the first season the writers supposedly toyed with bringing back all of the actors and having them play entirely new characters. But they rightly scrapped that idea because it's the characters people care about. I also think that's why this season has been so subpar. They've now killed off so many of their great characters that there's really no one left to root for.

David J. Loehr said...

Now that I think about it, here's a pair that could spark a thread of its own...

"Sesame Street" has been far too long, and "The Electric Company" not near long enough.

My five year old and two year old don't really care for a lot of the current shows, but when we put in the DVDs of "TEC" and "Sesame Street: Old School," they're rapt and happy. Same goes for "Schoolhouse Rock."

Dennis Wilson said...

Alan Sepinwall: Milch leaving "NYPD Blue" was something of a blessing; though the show never again reached the heights he was capable of, it became more consistently watchable than it had been in several years.

I dunno... Though the season-long Kirkendall runner was tiresome, Milch's final year as NYPD Blue show runner was among the series' best. I'll take "Tea and Sympathy" or "Who Murders Sleep" over anything that aired in Seasons 9-12. Even some of the weaker episodes had great moments, as when new detective Baldwin Jones prejudges Sipowicz in "Everybody Plays the Mule." And I'll take the cryptic and unresolved character beats written for the intriguing Rick Schroder any day over the pat TV cliches handed the not-quite-up-to-it Mark Paul Gosselaar.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Comment to Dan Coyle (I think): The final shot of Angel is brilliant, redeeming in many ways a kind of uneven show. And it wasn't constructed as a cliffhanger, since they knew they weren't coming back. I know it frustrates some to not know what happens next, but it's even cooler (to me) that we're not MEANT to.

Eric said...

I have a feeling that "How I Met Your Mother" is going to go out on (or near the) top of its game. One or two more seasons before CBS decides the ratings are never getting where they want them to be. Any longer than that, and it's likely to degenerate into - wait for it - "Barney and Friends."

Dark Tyler said...

Another vote for Angel's brilliant finale. To me, "Not Fade Away" is the single best series finale ever, only because it summarizes and champions the whole essence of the show's mission statement. Angel always was a show not about empowerment and about growing up, like Bufy; it was always about accepting the responsibilities and keep fighting, and the heroes in that final scene did just that. They chose to fight the good fight. And they chose to do it even though they they were all going to die in that alley. That's what Angel was about, and the ending was ideal.

Re: Buffy, the problem with Seasons 6-7 (by the way, I love season 6) wasn't that they weren't good. The problem was that they lost the metaphor. Marti Noxon did an awesome job with the characters, but the heart of the show, it's mission statement, it wasn't there. And that's where Joss' involvement played a crucial part. It's not that he necessarily told better stories or that he developed the characters more (which he did, but that's besides the point). It's that he carried the mission of his shows with him. He brought it back to Angel after an all-over-the-place Season 4. And he brought it back to Buffy just in time for the finale.

To me, to return on the post's subject, Buffy lived as long as it should have, while Angel clearly had a couple of years in it. But Firefly... now there's a real crime. Damn.

Jessica said...

I feel like one show that's stayed around too long is Smallville. I still watch it, and there's storylines I like that feel fresh, but then there's the whole Clark/Lana thing which would have been a much better story if back in episode 100 they had killed her instead of that stupid changing the timeline crap.

I don't think scrubs has stayed around too long, although I really found the 5th season kind of unbearable at points, I've loved this season...for whatever reason. Also I feel like the episodes have been picking up as they near the end...a nice sendoff for a show IMO although you of course find the show kind of ridiculous ;) But I would watch these characters play toe or finger for 30 minutes...sooo..

LOST is a show that needs to stay around just to answer all those questions...but if it doesn't answer them already I think people are going to get sick of it.

Mia said...

I enjoyed Buffy S6/S7, though S5 was my favorite by far. The story ended naturally, in my opinion. While I would have loved to see Buffy continue forever, it had to end.

Another show that needs to end, immediately and post-haste is Veronica Mars. I stopped loving this show after the Season 2 premiere. The boyfriend gotcha after the rape reveal was too much for me to take. It's been downhill ever since. Rob Thomas seems to be of the belief that gotchas and stunt casting will make up for lackluster mysteries and wooden characterizations. S3 has been unbearable for one reason only: Veronica Mars is an annoying, smug, judgmental twit. I don't root for her at all.

If the networks want to do something good, get Jason Dohring a show pronto!

Travis said...

Just to addd to what Brian was saying re: missions of the shows, I think that there is a lot to do with the central theme off the show.

Take ER for example: the central theme is the hospital, almost to a point where the hospital is the main character. Regardless of the actors coming and going, as long as the hospital is there, the show will go on. In recent seasons, they have been trying to hard to expand outside of the hospital (Luca&Forrest Whitaker, John Stamos, Omar Epps&Danny Glover, for example) which has been detracting from the show overall. Just like how MASH was about the war, and the characters within the army fighing the war, once the war is over, the show is too. Cheers=the bar. Not so much the patrons, but the bar. And when the management at the bar changes (lose Coach, add Rebecca), so does the atmosphere, and the show suffers accordingly.

The Sopranos, to me, is about Tony. Point blank. Everything in the show centers around him and his reaction to it. Carmelle and the kids? Gives Tony a reason to do what he does. All the other capos? Just fuel for Tony’s fire. The shows low spots for me is when they start to deviate from Tony. Season 4, as mentioned, centered too much on Junior and Adrianna. Even S6, with all the dream sequences during the coma, too much time was spent on the reactions of those around Tony than was actually spent on Tony. Right now I just want to see it end, because I know that for a guy like Tony, there really isn’t going to be much of a change in him to carry the show forward. “I am what I am” and expecting something more is just going to dull the show as a whole. That, and I really want to pick-up the final dvd set to complete my collection!

Friends died because everyone grew up, and then it was no longer about a group of yuppies learning about life through experience. I got to a point where I could predict how Ross would react to a situation (excusing for a moment how lame the situation and following reaction would be), and then when he did, it wasn’t funny anymore. Unfortunatley, I see the same fate for HIMYM, even though this is by far my most favorite show on tv right now. As someone pointed out previously, once you find out who the mother is, you’ve got maybe a season left before it falls into the same trap. HIMYM is a tough one for me... I really want to see it last longer, but I fear that if it does find its audience, suddenly the execs will want to hold onto it longer, and the writers will stretch for material causing the show to lose it’s current luster.

I could wax poetic about a handful of other shows:
Six Feet Under being about the family. Nate dies, ergo show is finished.
Sex in the City (which I’m surprised no one mentioned) was similar to Sopranos, in that it was all about the main character. Once Carrie realised what she really wanted in life (ie: Mr.Big) the fat lady has sung.
Simpsons (which I feel is being held onto simply to break some sort of records and should have been cancelled long, long ago) South Park, Family Guy, etc, can literally carry on forever, because these shows aren’t really even about the characters. I think these shows are just reflections of current pop culture, so as long as things keep happening, these shows can carry on indefinitely.
Lost , right now is about the island, which is throwing up so many questions without answers that I’m starting to lose interest. (did we ever find out what was with the smoke monster? or the polar bear?) I think recently they’ve been trying to shift the focus (create a new mission) to make it about the ‘others vs. losties’, but I’m still not convinved.
Prison Break, as the name suggests, is about the prison. Even if you change the mission (prove that Lincoln didnt shoot the guy) it still lost me once they climbed the wall.

I have a question (and if you’ve read this far, I’m impressed)

If the networks are all concerned about the ratings (where ratings=number of tv sets tuned into a particular show) why do they bother putting shows on hiatus during certain periods? It seems to me that it is much easier for the average family to set the vcr to record “every monday night at 9pm” regardless of what is happening outside the living room, rather than have to take a vacation and remember that their favorite show comes back on in the second week of April. Just something that has never made much sense to me.

filmcricket said...

I'm with those who'd rather see things go out on a high note than get run into the ground; I'll just stop watching if the quality starts to really go down, and then maybe tune back in for the finale.

Shows that outstayed their welcome:

The Simpsons: hasn't been watchable in a decade, at least.

Seinfeld: can't speak to a last-season creative resurgence because I stopped watching along about S7.

Friends: jumped the shark when they had Ross & Rachel have a baby together but not get back together. I know some of that was because of the continual cast negotiations, but still, it was obvious the writers were heading towards an "R&R finale" which was not only lame but did a real disservice to the other characters.

The West Wing: probably couldn't have predicted how much it was going to decline in quality in S3. I thought S4, although uneven, was better overall than anything that came after, but with 20/20 hindsight, if it had just ended after S2 it would stand as the best two seasons of television ever.

Twin Peaks and The X-Files: two more shows that lost the plot and my attention long before they wrapped up.

"Some shows can change missions just by tacking on a new name like Saved by the Bell the College Years.'

The best example I can think of of this is the original Degrassi series, which started out as The Kids of Degrassi Street, moved to Degrassi Junior High and then Degrassi High. Whatever one thinks of the shows themselves (they're both a joke and a major cultural touchstone for Canadians of my generation) they did manage to sustain those characters and their storylines for an incredibly long time. Catch 'em young is the lesson here, I guess?

cgeye said...

Just wondering if producers depend on making 100 shows, anymore -- it seems foolish, nowadays, to push those resources toward a syndication goal, when a well-thought-out set of seasons would have more enduring value on DVDs

Michael said...

One of the most bizarre overstays was "The Prisoner," the '60s tale of a mysterious secret agent trapped in a surreal and sinister fairy-tale village.

Conceived as 10 episodes with a most definite (if bizarre) ending, the producers had to shoehorn an additional 7 episodes into the continuity to make the thing salable in the States, as the rumor goes.

Having used up their location budget for the fantastic exteriors, they came up with four scripts shot entirely indoors on existing sets and slapped a few scraps of leftover location footage at the front and back.

Then the studio sets were lost and they shot two dream-sequence episodes with no Village exteriors OR interiors.

And for the final filler episode, they had no locations, no sets AND no star (Patrick McGoohan being unavailable), so they put our hero's mind into another actor's body, shipped him off to adventure about London, and made their quota.

The filler episodes each have their charms, but they turned a tightly plotted arc into a meandering mishmash.

Toby said...

When David Kelley walked away from 'Picket Fences', perhaps that series should have come to a conclusion as well. While I watched the show to the end and still enjoyed it, I could still feel the slippage in quality.

Sometimes these suits should just forget about that magic five season/100 episode goal for syndication and go out with dignity.

Edward Copeland said...

In most cases, I always feel that less is more. I think The X-Files should have wrapped up midway in its sixth season, which I thought had some of its greatest episodes and really wrapped up the mythology arc. As a fan of Homicide, one of the more depressing things was watching how the show kept getting debased in the hunt for ratings it was never going to get. With a few exceptions, I don't think they offered much after season 3. The loss of Ned Beatty and Melissa Leo really hurt the show, though not as much as the addition of the awful Jon Seda. In fact, I abandoned it completely when Andre Braugher left at the end of season 6. I've never seen a season 7 episode. For an example of a show that really wore out its welcome, I always think of M*A*S*H which lasted nearly three times longer than the war it was about and became obsessed with its own self importance in its later years. Once Gelbart left and Stevenson, Rogers and Linville were all gone, they should have pulled the plug. I do though hate when shows get iced without a proper conclusion (such as the current status of Deadwood) or how ABC didn't allow proper wrapups for Soap or Twin Peaks. As for The Sopranos, I have thought that it's gone on much longer than it should have but what I think really has weakened it are the insanely long hiatuses that make whatever shows up seem inevitably disappointing. The one exception of a show that really kept up quality control for a long period of time is Cheers which despite cast changes managed to stay pretty good throughout its entire 11-year run.

Pandyora said...

Great point, cgeye, about syndication and the pressures to reach the golden 100. I think there are a number of fifth seasons that owe their existence solely to syndication rather than quality or even ratings.

In general, I think there is an important distinction to be made between hour-long dramas with serial story arcs and stand alone dramas or sitcoms.

I think Law & Order has gone on way too long, but theoretically, if the writers could keep coming up with interesting stories / legal wrinkles, then the show could go on indefinitely.

The same goes for most sitcoms - Friends, Sienfeld, Fraiser, Cheers - where most viewers stay tuned for the punchlines, not the plot twists. Sure, people got involved in the Sam & Diane relationship, but does Norm really need a character arc?

The problem for most hour-long serial dramas is that they are either constrained by their premise or become static.

Lost, Prison Break, 24 and shows of these type seem to be constrained by their premise. Once the characters get off the island, escape prison, or defuse the nuclear bomb, then the arc is over.

I think Buffy (espec S5 and S6) is a good example of a show that became static. The three main characters - Buffy, Willow and Xander - became so beloved they were essentially immune from peril. As a result, the show struggled to generate tension.

BSG is an interesting exception, I think. If anything, Ron D. Moore's wild season finales have been designed to reboot each season to ensure that characters do not become static or predictable.

Perhaps he takes this a bit too far, straining believability. But its thrilling, none the less.

Edward Copeland said...

I forgot to mention All in the Family, which really should have ended when Mike and Gloria moved out west. There were some good ones, but bringing in Stephanie and then morphing into Archie Bunker's Place nearly ruined one of television's greatest characters.

Dan Coyle said...

One of the benefits of TV on DVD is that studios are looking past the typical 100 episode mark, and seeing that the DVD sets can turn a profit, regardless of the episode count.

Todd: to me, a kamikaze strike to prove "They don't own us" seemed such a... adolescent guesture for a show that to me wasn't about adolescene at all, but adulthood. And Whedon has already broken down and agree to let IDW resolve that cliffhanger in their Angel comics.

I guess my problem with that finale could be summed up by all the things Lorne was saying throughout the episode.

Edward Copeland said...

I wish they'd see that about The Larry Sanders Show not releasing any complete season past 1 is ridiculous. I refuse to get this compendium of episodes, because I want the whole thing and for some reason they even include episodes from Season 1. If crap like Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard can get releases of their entire run, a classic gem such as Larry Sanders deserves the same treatment.

Anonymous said...

Good heavens, how I wish that "Buffy" had ended after 5 seasons, even if that DID mean there'd be no musical.

vonkrum said...

I like it when a show goes out when its run out of ideas and has gone all sucky, thats usually when I dont care about it anymore.
The X Files lost it around season 7 and thats pretty much when I stopped caring, which was good, because last year guess what .. I cared again and got to buy them all on DVD and LOVED them!! I got to see all those awful eps that delved into the mythology arcs and could fast forward them!
The worst thing about The X Files ending is that there is no ending, Mulder and Scully are still running around out there eluding the men in black! Continuing its non-closure clause CC loved to foist upon us. Gah!

I agree with all the Buffy comments about it being too long, but still no OMWF? maybe not.

Anyway most shows have about 3 seasons in them before they start to get all ridiculous and crazy, take Grey's Anatomy .. its at that dangerous 3 season period and I challenge anyone to say it isnt drifting off in lalaland .. bring on that Addison Spinoff pahlease! And make it go for 5 years only, give it arc and closure!

Anonymous said...

I'm with the quality over quantity camp...I've suffered through my beloved shows' inevitable decline (X Files, Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure among many others), and I think most shows wear out their welcomes. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. The worst is when a show dies way too young (my all-time fave, Freaks and Geeks, for example), but second worst is seeing a formerly can't miss show go downhill (and often crash and burn at the bottom of the hill).