Saturday, July 12, 2008
Shows that didn't survive
I was just watching Eli Stone (rerun), and an ad ran for its second season this fall. This pleases me, because I enjoy it, but so many of the shows I enjoyed last year didn't survive. This happens far too often, particularly with the shows that are articulate, well-written, thought provoking. I like to call it the Sports Night effect, after the show Hubs and I loved so much. We were both big Sports Night fans, and watched religiously, and SN was also loved by critics. Apparently that wasn't enough for ABC, which cut it after its second season. Aaron Sorkin went on to write The West Wing, of course, which I enjoyed initially but which really wasn't as tightly constructed and elegantly deployed as Sports Night. I think the 30-minute format forced Aaron Sorkin to be even more effective with his dialogue, and it kept him in check in a useful way - not unrelated to the way that some writers excel in writing short stories, but become a bit too verbose when writing a novel.
There are so many shows that I enjoyed, that did not survive. This tells me that my tastes do not correspond, in many cases, with whoever it is the networks hope to attract. They also choose to renew some of the most bland, boring programs imaginable, and they keep other shows on life support far too long (case in point: ER, which I haven't been able to bear to watch in years).
I know I have quirky tastes. I know I'm nerdy, and I like sci-fi and fantasy more than your average bear, but I can't stand that feeling of getting invested in a show, and getting really into it, watching for it, making it a part of my routine, only to have the rug pulled out from under me. I don't like falling on my butt, literally or figuratively. But The Powers That Be - or The Man, or Mr. Columbia, whatever you want to call the suits who make television programming decisions - have no qualms about seeing me land on my tuckus again and again.
And so, my list, of Ten Shows That Ended Too Soon:
1. Sports Night - The Complete Series Boxed Set
2. Jericho - The Complete Series
4. The Dresden Files - The Complete First Season
5. The Mole - The Complete First Season (original version, with Anderson Cooper)
6. The Dead Zone - The Complete First Season
7. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - The Complete Series
8. Threshold - The Complete Series
10. The Agency