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Trevor Smith
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 6:35am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

A question inspired by the Friends reunion thread - when
it comes to TV series, what do we *really* want, as
viewers? It seems we (me!) are never *truly* happy. A
series drags on past it's best before date and there are
cries of "ugh, should have hung it up long ago" and
suchlike. But go out on a high note at the height of
popularity and it's "NOOOOOOOOO" and we're sad, we miss
the characters, etc. What's the answer? Is there one?
Are we just flat out impossible to please?
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 7:08am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I appreciate very much when a show stops at peak quality, which does not necessarily overlap with popularity. For example, "Seinfeld" was #1 at the end, but after Larry David left, for me the show's quality dipped so severely I would have been perfectly satisfied if it had ended with his departure. There's an element of Monday Morning Quarterbacking in even that mere opinion, though.


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Bill Collins
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 7:21am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I loved CSI at the start, but when there were 3
different versions airing, the quality really did drop
off and it became a chore to watch, similarly, the DC
series Arrow, Flash etc are past their sell by date in
my opinion. Leave them wanting more!
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 7:49am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"Seinfeld" was #1 at the end, but after Larry David left, for me the show's quality dipped so severely I would have been perfectly satisfied if it had ended with his departure."

---

Seinfeld got...."weird" after LD left. There were still episodes that I enjoyed but there was definitely something that felt different about them. There was some definite Flanderization at play. George not being able to avoid running over squirrels. Kramer thinking he's hosting a talk show inside his apartment (granted that episode had me laughing, but still I realized that they were stretching the character too thin).
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Jim Muir
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 9:19am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Its unwinnable - you have no way of knowing a show has reached its peak until you're halfway down the other side in the middle of the dreadful following season!
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 9:53am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

There can also be peaks and valleys.  I was listening to Alec Baldwin talk about 30 Rock last night.  He said that he and others had felt that season 5 was relatively week, and wondered if maybe they shouldn’t pack it in.  But then the same folks felt like season 6 was among their best work and were ready to keep going.  
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 10:17am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

For me it's easy: end early before decline sets in. Better to have that and have viewers saying they miss the show than keep going on until things seem very samey. I think it is very rare that a show has enough quality and ideas to justify going beyond a third season (for the record, I gave up on Friends in the third season).
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John Popa
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 1:49pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

In TV, as in everything, I'm in favor of a well-planned and executed ending instead of a serial that limps to a finish or gets the plug pulled by the suits.

I'd rather go find something new.

Edited by John Popa on 07 June 2019 at 1:49pm
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Trevor Smith
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 3:04pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"For me it's easy: end early before decline sets in."

**

And I think that's pretty much how I'm leaning. As much
as a case like, say, Rome, just kills me, I'd much
rather be left wanting more than see something I once
loved descend into utter tripe.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 June 2019 at 11:27pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I'm going to vote the other way. While we can bemoan and gnash our teeth over dreadful final seasons, the thing we enjoyed for so long is still there, in some form. 

No one despises Buffy Season 7 more than I do. I hate that year with a passion. Nonetheless, it is more Buffy than we'd have had had the show ended with Season 5, as Whedon truly thought it might, hence the finality of that season's last episode. 

Had it gone out then, fans would still be bitching and moaning over the move to college and Glory (which is a complaint I share. The show started the season with the joke that Harmony was going to be the Big Bad. Then it subverted that with the reveal that the true villain was... basically Harmony, only with more powers. Hated Glory. Hated Ben. The whole storyline with the two of them can go die in traffic.) But overall, they'd have been fine with that being it.

And we'd never have gotten the Musical. Or been able to spend more time with Anya. Or Faith. We'd have lost out on time with Spike. Hey, I like Dawn. More Dawn was just fine with me. Yeah, the episodes themselves were not the best ever, but many of them were still very good. 

All of this "kill it before I hate it" snobbery is disingenuous. We may not go back and revisit those despised later seasons of our favorite shows after we've seen them once, but for the most part, we were still watching while they were on. There were good episodes or at least good moments in among the dross. So long as there's life, there's hope. And where there's Hope, there's Crosby.*

* Joke from St. Elsewhere, another show that arguably overstayed its welcome, yet gave television an immortal moment with that final episode's last moments. Even a show on its last legs usually has something to offer. Sometimes something amazing.

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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 12:29am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The problem with some shows is that you get so invested that you almost feel an obligation to keep watching.

FRASIER should have ended a season or two earlier, with Daphne and Niles never getting together.

FRIENDS went on a season or two too long. 

HAPPY DAYS is responsible for the term "jumping the shark" from a season 5 episode, but it really didn't start going downhill until Ron Howard left (season 7), and really hit the toilet in season 9.

Trying to keep THE GOLDEN GIRLS going without Bea Arthur as THE GOLDEN PALACE was a big mistake.

I've been slogging my way through ARROW for the past two seasons, and am glad it is ending. The prison arc and the future segments definitely did not help. (I disagree with Bill Collins about the other CW DC shows....though I wish they'd drop the Tom Cavanaugh playing a different alternate version of Wells bit on THE FLASH each season.)

Some shows have been ruined by major cast changes. Look at the original CSI and NCIS (which I can't believe is still airing), for example. On the other hand, LAW & ORDER's cast changes helped keep it fresh.

(Incidentally, I gave up on SEINFELD in season two.) 
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Trevor Smith
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 3:55am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

"All of this "kill it before I hate it" snobbery"

**

I wouldn't call it "snobbery".
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 4:32am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Brian, one of the reasons i`m bored with The Flash is
"Sherloque" etc!
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 10:12am | IP Logged | 14 post reply


“HAPPY DAYS is responsible for the term "jumping the shark" from a season 5 episode, but it really didn't start going downhill until Ron Howard left (season 7), and really hit the toilet in season 9.”


It got really bad when they stopped bothering to dress like they were in the 50s/60s. The actors started rocking 80s perms and poufs. 


Edited by Vinny Valenti on 08 June 2019 at 11:30am
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Dave Phelps
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 11:03am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

 Trevor Smith wrote:
A question inspired by the Friends reunion thread - when it comes to TV series, what do we *really* want, as viewers?


I would say what we "really want" is for the series to go out "naturally" and before any decline sets in, but the problem is that you don't know what bullets you've dodged if the episodes don't exist.

The ending of Angel Season Five left me wanting more, but if Season Six had aired and was terrible, I'd be saying that they should've stopped after five.

Long running series tend to evolve over time as the cast ages, old cast members move on, new cast members come in, original set-ups run their course, etc. The trick is make the new situations/relationships as (or even more) appealing than what you started with, which isn't always easy.
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Trevor Smith
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Posted: 08 June 2019 at 1:21pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

"I would say what we "really want" is for the series
to go out "naturally" and before any decline sets in,
but the problem is that you don't know what bullets
you've dodged if the episodes don't exist."

**

Exactly. And you can't even really go by just one
first, bad season. Who's to say that rather than
continue to decline, writers/creators don't look
around and say "well that was the drizzlings", pull up
their bootstraps, and come back with a vengeance the
following year? I say that I'd rather see a series go
out while still great, but even then I'd forgive ONE
bad season, I think.
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 09 June 2019 at 8:34am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

 Dave Phelps wrote:
I would say what we "really want" is for the series to go out "naturally" and before any decline sets in, but the problem is that you don't know what bullets you've dodged if the episodes don't exist.

I'd say the rot tends to creep in when shows are kept going because the money is still there.   It's harder to make coherent creative decisions when the tail is wagging the dog, so to speak.   Keeping a show going for those reasons always ends badly, IMO.

Inevitably the writers fall into the trap of shoving two characters into a relationship because of proximity or lack of anything else for the characters to be doing, introducing a new disposable love interest just to prop up a relationship between two series regulars, or writing cliche character-centric episodes (eg. "this one is a Kramer story") because they are popular/breakout.   

Once the writers begin crafting episodes they think will please the audience versus stories that ring true to the characters then it's all over.   Yes, you might get an amazing gem or two in those final seasons where they are going through the motions but you'll be picking those diamonds out of a big manure pile.  I've noticed lately that many shows now try every season to artifically replicate quirky experimental episodes you'd encounter in a final season -- you know the type, they are more often than not musicals or zany breaking-the-fourth-wall stuff.   Thing is, these episodes are more often than not borne out of desperation on the part of the writers ("hey, I just noticed that half our cast worked in musical theatre.  We should take advantage of that") versus good creative decisions.  Everyone remembers when it works brilliantly and conveniently forgets when it makes total garbage -- for every "Once More, With Feeling" (BUFFY) there's Webster crossing over with STAR TREK:TNG.

Best to end a show before you think you'll run out of ideas rather than demonstrate this to your audience onscreen and start to lose them.  

My all time favorite show that went out when they were on top and never declined in quality (and arguably that quality increased year to year) was BARNEY MILLER.


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 09 June 2019 at 8:35am
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 10 June 2019 at 6:59am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I don't know. Some might say that the X-FILES went on at least a couple of seasons too long. But there were some good episodes in those final seasons. And though the end was dreadful, I was delighted when it returned - as a continuation, not a reboot.

I used to love BIG BANG THEORY, but gave up about four-five years ago. Have no interest in it now. But that doesn't mean I think they should have stopped making it when *I* lost interest. That's kinda arrogant. 

I feel a lot worse about shows that ended too quickly than the ones that may have outstayed their welcome.  
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 10 June 2019 at 4:38pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

SCRUBS had an awesome series finale.

Except, then it wasn't.

Though I tend to think of Season 9 as  "AfterSCRUBS"


Edited by Brian Rhodes on 11 June 2019 at 10:35am
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