Category: Forays into TV

The Devolution of a TV Show

Though there are some shows that get cancelled after a single season (like Firefly), and some shows that run for over a decade (like Law & Order), I’ve noticed a pattern that the majority of one-hour dramas seem to follow that ultimately leads to their downfall in about five seasons. It goes something like this:

Season 1

The show’s premise is fresh, with the possibility of thousands of different scenarios stemming from it to create drama, like patients coming into a hospital or crimes being investigated. But the actors and writers are still finding their way with the new characters. No one’s quite sure how the relationships are going to shake out, so it’s not perfect yet.

Example: In the first season of Bones, the premise of forensic anthropologist + FBI agent as a crime fighting team yields plenty of interesting cases involving everything from suicide bombers to pirate treasure. However, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) are still a little wary of each other and haven’t settled into their full partner dynamic yet.

Booth and Brennan from Bones

I feel that we should have some sort of ritual. Perhaps involving diners and pie?

Season 2

The show has hit its stride. The characters are all fully rounded now and have intricate interpersonal relationships. Their jobs/lives provide a seemingly limitless source of external conflict, and it seems like with the premise they picked, the writers can keep coming up with great new ideas for stories until the end of time.

Example: During Season 2 of Alias, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) helps to bring down the villainous spy cell she unwittingly worked for, freeing her up to do a myriad of different official missions for the CIA and to give in to sexual tension and actually have a relationship with her former handler Michael Vaughan (Michael Vartan).

Vaughan and Sydney kiss on Alias

This is so perfect! I’ve been wanting to kick ass and suck face since the first episode!

Season 3

The show is still operating at peak efficiency and there still seems to be plenty of drama to be had from the premise. In fact, the show is so popular that the network execs are preparing to give some supporting characters their own spinoffs. Sometimes these spinoffs are introduced during episodes in this season. In preparation for filling the gaps next season, the writers introduce some fresh new secondary characters.

Example: During the third season of Grey’s Anatomy, the character of Addison (Kate Walsh) leaves Seattle Grace Hospital to take a trip to Los Angeles, where she meets up with an old friend and is invited to join her practice, thus setting the scene for the Addison-centric show Private Practice, which will start next season. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) moves into the hospital to fill her spot.

Addison and Naomi from Private Practice

NAOMI: You should so totally move here.
ADDISON: You are so totally right!

Season 4

The departure of the spinoff characters alters the dynamic of the show. In addition, the writers are running out of credible interpersonal problems to give the remaining cast. Writers force secondary and guest characters to step up and shoulder more responsibility, often forgetting that those characters were secondary because they weren’t very interesting. The writers put some of the original characters in mortal peril (or if the show is an action based show, in really serious mortal peril) as a way of forcing fans to stick around and find out what happens.

Example: In the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the characters have graduated from high school. David Boreanaz, who plays Buffy’s vampire boyfriend Angel, departs for his own show, Angel. His place is rather inadequately filled by a college TA named Riley (Marc Blucas).

Riley and Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

RILEY: I’m your new TA. Bone me?
BUFFY: My vampire boyfriend cut out on me, so why not?

Season 5

Things are starting to fall apart. Some of the other actors are leaving to pursue other projects, forcing the original secondary cast to become the primary cast. Any remaining original characters have long since exhausted all avenues of interpersonal conflict with one another and now interact almost entirely with guest or supporting characters. Additionally, the writers are running out of story ideas that have to do with the original premise, and they turn more and more to extra-premise storylines and mortal peril to keep things going. For many shows, this is the last season.

Example: By the fifth season of McLeod’s Daughters, main characters Claire and Becky are gone, as are a lot of popular secondary characters. The writers bring in previously unmentioned friends and cousins to round out the cast. Episodes, which were previously based on the trials and tribulations of running a cattle station, start to be more about other things, like drag racing, organized crime, and mining rights.

McLeod's Daughters peril

You got run over by a car? But I only just rescued you from being kidnapped yesterday!

Further Seasons

If the show has a strong, loyal fan base that is miraculously not driven away when the show’s premise stops being relevant to what’s happening on screen, the show may malinger for several more seasons. After this point, the cast has often been almost totally replaced. Secondary characters are repeatedly introduced and discarded when they don’t fit in, and the external conflict becomes increasingly ridiculous. Eventually the show slips quietly under the waves to die.

Example: By the seventh season of One Tree Hill, the writers are really reaching. They lost their “high school” premise at the end of Season 4 when the characters graduated, and they lost main characters Lucas and Peyton at the end of Season 6. Episodes in this season revolve around pregnancy scandals and moviemaking. Lucas’ brother Nathan is now the main character and his wife’s new sister Quinn and former secondary characters Clay, Mouth, and Millie moving up to the main cast.

Haley and Jamie from One Tree Hill

JAMIE: So daddy went dancing with another lady, and now I’m going to have a half brother?
HALEY: Something like that.

I was thinking of this because Private Practice seems to be devolving at an alarming rate. Last season was only Season 3, but already they had a bunch of car crashes, were lost in the wilderness, were attacked by psychos, and killed off. Now in the beginning of Season 4 they’re entering into random chemistryless marriages. It smells like impending show death, so I’ve jumped ship.

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Spongebob Squarepants: Quote of the Week

I can’t believe I’ve been doing the “quote of the week” thing for three weeks and I haven’t mentioned my favorite quote EVER IN THE WORLD. Every time the profile police ask for my information they always want a favorite quote. This is the one I always give them.

There are many quotable quotes from Spongebob Squarepants, on account of it is hilarious and awesome, but this one is the best of them all. It’s from the episode “Naughty Nautical Neighbors,” where Squidward tries to ruin Spongebob and Patrick’s friendship to stop them from being so annoying but it backfires when they start competing to be best friends with HIM instead.

The quote is from Squidward, after Spongebob has done yet ANOTHER exceptionally clueless thing.

SQUIDWARD: Spongebob, If I had a dollar for every brain you don’t have, I’d have one dollar.

I feel this way about most people.

Buy SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 1 on DVD

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New Summer Episodes: Why They’re Bad

I have a love/hate relationship with television. I love to watch the shows. I hate that I HAVE to watch them. I hate being tortured by cliffhangers and “to be continued”s and “will they/won’t they” relationship arcs. Does that make me a masochist?

Anyway the summer months usually gave me a break from being jerked around by fictitious characters and a LOT of extra time in which to accomplish things, like reading books and writing stories and hiking hikes.

Now there’s this (relatively) new thing where some shows are continuing to show new episodes all summer long. I guess it was only a matter of time until this happened. After all, the reality TV shows have been doing new seasons in the summertime for years. I wondered how long scripted TV showrunners would stand for the summer usurping of their fan base.

No longer. This summer, some of my favorite shows will have summer episodes. And yet I am not happy. Because this is bad. Both for me and my free time and for showrunners. To illustrate why, I will use one of my favorite shows as an example: Cougar Town:

I think I’m the only one in my generation who likes this show. Everyone I know under 40 hates it.

I love Cougar Town. I have to make a special effort just to watch it because it’s on on my busiest day at the same time as a show I’ve been watching for much longer (Criminal Minds). But I make the effort. I do it because of ditzy Laurie (Busy Phillips) and sarcastic Travis (Dan Byrd) and quick-tongued Jules (Courtney Cox). But most of all, I do it for Grayson (Josh Hopkins), because he is cute and he plays funny songs on a tiny ridiculous guitar.

I lament episodes that pass without the appearance of the guitar.

However, Cougar Town was nestled into my TV watching schedule like a house of cards. You take away all the other cards, and you tend to forget there’s any left at all. With no other new shows to remind me that TV even exists (I don’t think I’ve turned on the television in over a month) I keep forgetting to actually tune in to Cougar Town. Hell, I keep forgetting when it’s Wednesday! And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Even if people do remember when it’s on, they’ve got vacations to go on and barbecues to host and campouts to have in the yard. They don’t have time for TV.

The result: ratings will plummet. Executives will start looking at the money it’s making vs the money they’re paying Courtney Cox to be in the show and find a disparity. And then Cougar Town will get cancelled. And I will have a tiny funeral for the tiny guitar. Reality TV doesn’t have this problem, because it’s extremely cheap to make. I’d rather Cougar Town didn’t get cancelled, which is why I think it’s better if scripted TV continued to take a summer hiatus.

So take the characters of Cougar Town and freeze them in place until September. Just like this:


Au revoir, mon amis.



If you start to miss them too much, try buying a Cougar Town: 2011 Wall Calendar to stare at or getting Cougar Town: The Complete First Season – 3 DISC DVD and watching the old episodes over again.

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Human Target Review

Fox has been advertising Human Target since at least September. I came across promos for it while I was compiling my list of new 2009/2010 shows to watch. I thought “meh, looks a bit campy, but maybe I’ll give it a try,” and then mentally filed it away because it didn’t start for like six more months.

By January I’d totally forgotten about it. Then I saw the name of the show listed in the CTV online video library. I had an hour to kill, so I clicked. And it was AWESOME!

You can get the gist of the show by reading the following sentence:

Human Target is a series of weekly hour-long action movies based on the DC comic book of the same name. It follows a former hitman turned undercover bodyguard who infiltrates the lives of clients to draw out and eliminate threats.

Or by watching the trailer. But if you want to know why it’s awesome, you’ll have to watch the show.

…. or you can click below and I’ll tell you.

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Instant Drama

Say you’re a television writer and you’ve got writer’s block, but you’ve got to (somehow) keep the drama rolling if you want the paycheck that’s going to put food in your kids’ mouths.

You’re doing 24 episodes a year, writing flat out. Your house looks like a bomb went off in it. Your kids are whining that they a) never see you and b) are hungry. Your boss keeps thrusting the ratings in your face.

Your show is supposedly grounded in reality, so you can’t bring in aliens or magical fairies to poof you out of the corner you’ve written yourself into. What do you do?

You turn to the writer’s ammunition pouch and pull out the surefire guaranteed instant drama pills, which miraculously expand into storylines when fired at a blank piece of paper like those caplets that give birth to little foam animals when you put them in hot water.

If you’re new to the scene, let me fill your ammo clip for you by giving you examples of instant drama pill storylines from the one hour drama series SATURDAY NIGHT TRAILER FEVER.

If you’re not familiar with this fabulous yet relatively unknown show, here’s the premise:

Mulleted idiot Joe Bob opens a discotheque with his brother John Bob in their trailer park after they discover they both love to imitate headless seizuring chickens to the beat of porno themes sung by men with voices only dogs can hear.


those are mullets, not squirrels sleeping on their heads

Don’t let the fact that these magic pills are known as cliches in critical circles stop you. Remember: your kids need bread.

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McLeod’s Daughters Review: Television Writers and Crimes Against Storytelling

We interrupt our series of articles on how to save money in a recession to bring you this important article on why I hate TV.

It’s not that I don’t watch TV, because I do (too much). It’s just that television has the ability to let you down harder than any other medium. You can be totally in love with a show and then it’ll take a left turn on 5th and Stupid and suddenly the whole world it created for you is ruined, retroactively destroying your enjoyment of what came before it because you know what’s going to happen later on.

Greedy executives who won’t let a story die a natural death are the guns to the heads of TV writers, who are forced to commit atrocious crimes against storytelling to keep the money rolling in.

I’ll use the Australian drama McLeod’s Daughters


…as my example, because if you’ve been reading through my old blog entries you already know my feelings about Star Trek: Enterprise.

This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, because the material I cite was released in 2004 and approximately zero other people I know have ever heard of the show. But just in case:

WARNING! Spoilers up until the end of the end of the 3rd season of McLeod’s Daughters

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Down With Gravity! Why Defying Gravity is My New Favorite Show

First of all, it’s time that someone stepped up and told gravity to go screw itself. I’m tired of walking on the floor. Maybe sometimes I want to walk on the ceiling. In the new sci-fi drama Defying Gravity the eight characters who have been chosen for a six-year mission around the solar system have that luxury. Lucky bastards.

Defying Gravity cast
they’re the ones in grey here

Now, the two descriptions of the show I see floating around most often are “eight astronauts go on a six-year mission around the solar system” and “Grey’s Anatomy in space”. One makes it sound like a boring Discovery-channel documentary with terrible fake CGI cinematics and the other makes it sound like a chick show with the depth of the teaspoon. In reality, it’s neither.

Defying Gravity is a genre-crossing show that you will probably like if only you would bother to watch an episode or two. Or you can click below and let me tell you why you should watch.

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The Thorn Birds Miniseries Review: Why does no one else think this is terrible?

 The Thorn Birds: the book

For the longest time, whenever I heard “The Thorn Birds” I thought of “The Thunderbirds”. The former is a novel by Colleen McCullough about the Australian Outback in the 20th Century and the latter is a British television drama featuring marionettes who fly toy rockets and rescue people.

When I did finally get around to reading the Thorn Birds book and learned that it was awesome, I borrowed the video of the Thorn Birds miniseries.

It’s about a girl named Meggie who moves to a sheep station in the Outback with her Irish family and falls in love with an older Catholic priest named Ralph that she can’t marry but keeps trying to bone anyway. For years. Her other family members play into the story as well, as does the Vatican, World War II, and Queensland being very hot, but for the purposes of the miniseries and therefore this review, they’re largely irrelevant.

Usually I feel slightly guilty about not paying for things but am I ever glad I didn’t hand over any money for this one. It saves me the trouble of demanding it back.

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The Coroner’s Report on the Death of Battlestar Galactica

It's dead. Put this in its mouth and break its jaw.

I am very sorry to inform you that your friend/lover/colleague, Battlestar Galactica perished in the line of duty at 12:01am Eastern Standard Time on March the 27th, 2009.

For a full report on the incident, click below. Caution: this report is EYES ONLY for people who have witnessed the incident.

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Islanded in a Stream of Stars (aka Nothing Happened Today, Part III and counting)

No spoilers until you get beyond the “read more”, I promise 😉

So we’re entering into the last few episodes of Battlestar Galactica and I expected to be amazed and astounded and excited as everything is revealed, things wind up, pieces fit together, etc. etc. etc.

Instead what I get is an increasingly frenzied series of shouted ultimatums and tearful breakdowns that aren’t moving the plot much and only last for about 90 seconds before they cut to something else because they’re trying to juggle WAY TOO MANY CHARACTERS.

the cast (theoretically, anyway)
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen some of these people this season

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, more characters does not equal more betterness. All it does is bury the primary ones they’ve made us love underneath a slurry of new secondary characters that I don’t care about and probably won’t even have time to care about before the series ends.

We haven’t seen more than about a minute per episode of Helo since before the New Caprica fiasco (not counting last week’s out-of character epic failure at life that we shall not speak of) in favor of increasingly large numbers of identical 6s and 8s and periperary political figures. (I’m sure hjea will agree that this is not at all okay)

Because of this barely anything has even happened since the middle of season 3. So at this point, I’m not pumped about the 2-hour finale because the way they’ve been going they’ll need two full hours just to give all the characters each a 10-second “closure” scene.

In fact, I can solve all their problems right now with my brilliant idea on how to save the world.

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