A TV show that does not overstay its welcome and actually manages to stick the landing is exceptionally rare. Especially in this age oif overarching storylines, rather than done in one shows.
In the early days of television shows just concentrated on done in one episodes. And the shows were relatively successful, and the quality high, with that model. Shows like THE RIFLEMAN, SPENSER FOR HIRE, BIG VALLEY, THE UNTOUCHABLES, TWILIGHT ZONE (ORIGINAL), STAR TREK (Original), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE to name a few, are as good and watchable today, as the day they were first aired. The writers concentrated on telling the best story possible every episode , rather than trying to sustain and drag out a reoccurring storyline.
The concept of the novel for television was really born with Michael Straczynski’s brilliant BABYLON 5, a series that even though sabotaged by abrupt cancellations and threats of cancellation is remembered as a game changing and well regarded series.
DEEP SPACE 9 also managed to grow into a successful novel for TV, despite abrupt syndication and time slot changes.
However they were early successes, and early exceptions.
Every show soon wanted to do the novel for tv model. Unfortunately most did it badly. X-FILES, was always strongest with its self contained monster of the week shows. When the show tried to milk and drag out the Alien reoccurring storyline, the show was at its weakest.
LOST is another example of writers getting lost in the weeds, in trying to fabricate an overarching storyline rather than just telling great contained episodes. Going away from the initial strength of the show.
It can be done, shows like FRINGE, GRIMM, MUSKETEERS and RIPPER STREET managing to stick the landing. Start off great, and end at least very good.
But unfortunately too many can’t and don’t stick the landing. Five of the worst recent crash and burn tv shows are the following:
HELL ON WHEELS – The first two seasons of HELL ON WHEELS are magnificent. The third season is okj, but you feel the wheels coming off by the end of the third season.The fourth season should have NEVER been green lit, as it is one of the most disapointing and atrocious seasons of TV I have ever seen. Completely fast forward, lowest common denominator, unwatchable dreck. I never finished it, it was that bad.
BEING HUMAN UK – A great three seasons, but pretty much wrote themselves into a corner. Should have left it as a cliffhanger, rather than the insipid and moronic 4th season. Unwatchable, after season 3.
LONGMEYER- After 4 strong seasons, by the close of the 5th season Longmeyer’s stoic nature started veering wildly into just ungrateful and irrational, and by the 6th season he was a completely unlikable character, and the storyline uninteresting because of it. Longmeyer littering says everything you need to know about the end of that show.A disappointing end to a formerly beloved series.
ELEMENTARY – A show I had no faith in when first announced, became over 5 seasons one of the most enjoyable shows on TV. The writing on this show, superior to the more well regarded BBC series SHERLOCK. The sixth season was solid, if a bit uneven and forced at times, but forgiveable,. up to the last two episodes which was completely inane. Writing the characters completely out of character and to a moronic choice by the protagonists which undoes all the moral work they did by catching killers, by letting a cold blooded murderer go. Just noting makes sense about any of the characters actions. The episodes, unless a dream, completely ruins the previous 5+ seasons. Just inept writing. There is talk of a 7th season, but I can’t see investing in these characters, when they just pooped over all the relationships we cared about and followed for 6 seasons.
There are more TV shows that broke their leg at the finish line, but those 4 are the most egregious examples.
Feel free to like this post and/or suggest your most disappointing recent TV shows.
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