I’ve been watching a lot of TV shows lately that I think have missed their mark. Were it not so misused, I’d say they jumped the shark. I’m only going to mention shows currently on the air and I don’t watch all of them, sometimes the show jumps the shark, right into the bonfire. For what I think are the worst offenders, I do give up. I’m also not mentioning shows that I don’t think ever really had good points, they didn’t jump the shark, they started off as shark bait.
Bones – I’ve posted about this before, but they killed the show by allowing Bones and Booth to get together. A certain amount of tension was fine, but the second they get together, you’ve blown the balance of the show. Of course, the original books by Kathy Reichs had a lot of this stuff in it, but that’s exactly why I don’t read them, and even my wife, who loves the TV show, hated the books and doesn’t read them. It ought to be about the science and the crime-solving, not about who is jumping into bed with who. I guess that’s a problem with Angela and Hodgins too, although to a lesser degree. It’s one thing to see characters change and grow, I support that, and I suppose that Angela and Hodgins did evolve into a happily married couple with a kid, but they spent so much time throwing Bones and Booth in people’s face, it just got to be obnoxious. There really has to be a place where Bones ends because it’s strayed too far from it’s origins. Is this going to be a detective show or a drama? Right now, it’s doing badly at both.
Dexter – I haven’t watched this since season 3, but from what I’ve heard, it’s got the same problems it had back then. Dexter is ridiculously formulaic. Someone finds out Dexter’s secret, he angsts over it for a while, then he finds a way to off the person who knows, thus protecting his secret. Where the show went wrong, though, has nothing to do with that. They should have ended the show when he and Rita got married. The show was very much about the journey from sociopath to normal person. Journeys have ends. His relationship with Rita started as a way to hide his sociopathic tendencies, then he developed real emotional bonds with her and the kids and they fell in love and got married. That should have ended his need to kill. That should have been the end of the show. Ratings, unfortunately, keeps things going far beyond their prime.
Chuck – Chuck is in it’s final season and I think that’s a good thing. Everything that made Chuck fun to watch is gone. First off, no Intersect. It’s just not Chuck without it. Second, they made the show all serious, it had a lot of light-hearted comedic elements. The magic is gone, sorry. I’m really not sure what they’re trying to accomplish with this last season. They worked for a long time to get Chuck and Sarah married. That part isn’t a problem, like it is in most shows because they never lost the “edge” in the relationship. They worked hard to get Chuck to be a “real spy”, which I suppose was a disappointment because part of Chuck’s charm is that he was a geek trying to play spy in a world he just didn’t understand. I can live with it though, especially since it plays into the Chuck/Sarah story. However, it looks like now they’re trying to take fun, geeky Chuck and turn it into a semi-serious spy show? Doesn’t work. If this wasn’t the final season, I likely would stop watching after this season is over.
Fringe – Fringe started off as a “monster of the week” show and that’s what made it great. I had no problem with them introducing the “alternate universe” storyline, but when they virtually did away with the MOTW elements, that fundamentally changed the show. It became a running disaster and they had to keep enlarging the plot, usually in absurd ways, to have any semblance of a story. The season-long “Fauxlivia” storyline was ridiculous, although not quite as ridiculous as the current “Peter never existed” story. This show isn’t going to go on much longer, it’s hemorrhaged most of it’s viewers and I bet the producers can’t figure out why. It’s because it no longer resembles the great show it once was, it’s just a bunch of stupid nonsense with the name of a once-excellent show stamped on it.
Sanctuary – This is really what sparked the thread, I was watching the latest episode last night and honestly, I think the show goes downhill every season. Where I think they failed was revealing not only a large sanctuary network, but that there are an absurd number of abnormals everywhere. It was nice when it was one small facility and a small number of abnormals. Now that they’re everywhere, now that there seem to be as many abnormals as regular people, it’s ridiculous. It’s like finding out that the show that you thought was about a small wildlife sanctuary trying to protect an endangered species is really about a trillion-dollar multinational organization trying to save stray dogs and cats. It loses just about everything attractive in the translation. What’s more ridiculous is they have absurdly powerful abnormals and apparently, the humans know nothing about them! Giant sea creatures who make massive earthquakes and nobody has a clue. Oh, and all of the gods are real, they’re just powerful abnormals! Oh brother. I wonder why these abnormals need a sanctuary when they outnumber the population of many European nations. Add to that the fact that many of them have super-science and “magic” on their side and I’d say it’s the humans who need a sanctuary against the rampaging abnormals. It’s just lost it.
Supernatural – Like Fringe, Supernatural started off as a great “monster of the week” show. It had a lot of humor and was a lot of fun to watch. It went straight to hell, no pun intended, when they introduced the “heaven-hell war” angle. First off, I hate the religion aspect, it’s entirely unnecessary, but worse, you took Sam and Dean, who were directly involved with every storyline and made them sideline characters. They couldn’t win against the angels or demons, they were just pawns in the game, predestined to be punching bags for the superior forces at work. Secondly, it became extremely angsty. Sure, there were still good episodes here and there when the writers let themselves get silly, but most of the time, it got extremely dark and dreary. No thanks. This is another series that should have ended early and one that I just don’t watch anymore.
Largely, what I think we’re seeing in most of these shows is the absurd American television tradition of taking anything successful and running it into the ground. TV shows never go off the air until people are sick of watching them. So long as they can squeeze any money at all out of a show, it stays on the air. Unlike places like England and Japan, where most TV shows get a certain number of episodes and they’re done, U.S. shows go on and on and on and on. A lot of these shows, as I said, should have ended while they were good. They should have been remembered for going out while they were on top. I was watching the extras on Super 8 and they talked about Lost and how they had planned on getting people off the island pretty early in the run, but the producers told them they weren’t allowed to because the show had to go on and on and on. By the end of Lost, it was a mess because American television is run by committee. It’s not a creative process, it’s a money-grubbing process.
No wonder so much of it sucks.