Television is a cruel mistress

I have always held the belief that most shows run for just too long. Shows rarely end at their peak, because a show on it’s peak is an opportunity to make a shit-load of money. Therefore, it’s usually slightly after the peak, in which a show will usually quietly end before things get too bad.

But not all shows give up so easily.

Producers of a TV show will rarely end it until the show starts to get extremely negative reception. If it’s not getting really bad reception, then there’s money to be made – right? It’s totally understandable, from an economical point of view. However, just one bad series can really bring down the quality and reputation of a great show – such is the case with Prison Break, 24 or Lost.

A couple days ago I left a questionnaire up about your favourite TV show, and how long it had been running etc. (Which garnered a grand total of eight replies! One of which was me.) I asked to you tell me if you think that the show had been running for too long, and if you would like to see it brought back. I learned several things from this; the main thing being that you shouldn’t ask people if their favourite shows have been running for too long, because they are obviously going to be biased and say no (except for me.)

See, looking at the statistics (people moaning online) it seems that most, if not all TV shows are considered to have run slightly too long and “should have ended a season earlier” or something. In fact, there’s usually only a few people that think otherwise – people who consider it their favourite show. Everybody who replied said that they were happy with how long their show ran for, which honestly was not what I was expecting.

Several replies feature Doctor Who as their favourite show, which is a show that has been going on since the dawn of time. They all said it had not been running too long – and you know what? I kind of agree with them. Doctor Who is a rare case of a show being genuinely timeless, it has been reinvented several times throughout several generations and has been incredibly successful through and through. I’m not a huge fan of the show, honestly, but I will admit that it probably won’t get old any time soon. The reason for this is that every episode is a new story – shows like Prison Break or Lost are tied to a constant overarching storyline, which obviously hinders how much they can do with the show, therefore how long it can run.

But try telling J.J. Abrams that.

The trouble is, TV Shows can’t really win. They are destined to eventually burn out in a disappointing end. No matter how amazing a TV Show is, people will get tired of it eventually; leaving only the true fans to stick around for the shit. There is no indication that the next season will be bad, until it’s on the air, by which point it’s too late and the quality is compromised. I do not consider Prison Break to be a bad show because the last season was not very good, but it definitely lowers the overall tightness of the show.

People are always going to moan, aren’t they? People even complain that The Wire perhaps went on a little too long, and that just says it all really, doesn’t it. Shows will always fall because our nostalgia vision refuses to let us see that Season 1 of Dexter isn’t really that much better than the rest – but we will constantly talk about how the show has declined since then, comparing new seasons to our idealised version of the first one.

But I’m in a glass house right now, so I don’t really want to throw any stones.

I’d just like to thank the people who replied to my survey for this post, it means a lot, and your contribution  made the third paragraph.

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10 responses to “Television is a cruel mistress

  1. When confronted with your survey I couldn’t think what my favourite TV show was, House? (stopped watching that because it went on too long), Due South?, Sherlock? I got all in a tizz and had to do something else to calm down. Too much pressure.
    My conclusion is, anyone who has spent long enough with that difficult question to actually know what their favourite show is, is a nutcase.
    I hope those seven other people don’t know where you live or anything.

    • Next time I will make sure my questions are less intense, apologies for any mental strain caused!

      (Desperately want to write a ‘seven psychopaths’ joke here, but it feels too tacky to do it un-ironically.)

  2. i had trouble at that moment to come up with one favourite series. i have had quite a few. The Office is one of my favourites. Has it gone on too long? No, but this was the final season and i think it was good time to end. i loved the seasons with Michael Scott as much as the ones with him. Arrested Development is probably my all-time favourite. It was cut short, but we get a new season this month. Parks and Rec is another. It is still great. Modern Family, but this season sucked. The New Normal was great, but one season. i have many favourites that have one or two seasons. Pushing Daisies was awesome too. But i agree that many series over-stay their welcome, such as How I Met Your Mother; now i hate it. Doctor Who works because it takes long breaks and then changes the cast. i have not seen enough to say i like it.

    • Fully Agree, HIMYM came up in the replies quite a bit – it was sort of funny at first but now (especially considering the premise) it has definitely lagged on too long.

      I personally didn’t really like the series’ of the Office after Michael Scott had left, sure the rest of the cast were good but for me he was the true heart of the show, and it sort of fell flat without him.

      Ha, it seems like quite a few people had troubles with coming up with a favourite! I’ll rethink my opening question next time!

      • i disagree, i felt Jim and Pan were the real heart of the series. And that is why so many people were upset this final season with the “will they break up or not” storyline. i love Michael Scott too, but i love seeing the other characters step up to the plate and get a moment in the spotlight. i wrote a blog about it.
        i look forward to seeing the next question.

        • While I agree that they were an integral part of the show, Michael was still the real reason I watched it. The show felt so empty without him (In my opinion.)

          • Okay, we can disagree. 🙂 Next question. Are you from England? If so, is it normal to watch so many American television series? What are your favourite British series?

            • Yeah I am, and yeah it totally is! I think American TV is more popular than British TV even over here! Haha!

              Got loads of favourites, IT Crowd, Father Ted, Red Dwarf, Life on Mars…

              • American television is taking over the world. hahaha.

                i am hoping to visit England this summer before i return to the U.S.

                i will check out some of your favourites, perhaps i will like some of them.

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