Heroes returns! and driving shows into the ground

Sep 21 2007 Published by under Entertainment

Rejoice, one and all, for Heroes returns on Monday with its season premiere.

Truth be told, I'm only in the process now, on my trip to San Jose, of watching the DVDs of season one. Although many, many people whose opinions I respect told me it was a good show, I've assiduously avoided watching it until now (I caught an episode on the BBC while in Amsterdam, and got hooked). After I thought about it a bit, I realized that I'm afraid of getting hooked on yet another television show which promises intricately crafted plots, complex characters and real development of the story line, but fails to deliver after I've invested lots of emotion into it.

The X-Files is the archetypical example of this effect. The show noticeably and apparently consciously jumped the shark somewhere around the season 4 premiere. It was as if the producers suddenly decided that they should just make as much money as possible while driving the show into the ground.

This seems to be the problem with most television serials: either it does poorly in the ratings, in which case it is unceremoniously dumped without resolution (Quantum Leap, Firefly), or it is a big hit and the show is continued, often with different writers, until the point when all fans have finally jumped ship (X-Files, Twin Peaks, Dark Angel).

I'm hesitant now to get involved with another show which has this problem. I was a devoted fan of Smallville until it jumped the shark in season 5. Prison Break, which I adored seasons 1 and 2, is gleefully continuing into season 3 and possibly for another 3 seasons beyond (how long can you stretch the premise of a prison break?). 24, which was magnificent in seasons 1 and 2, has reached the point of absurdity in that every year a new, urgent 24 hour crisis arises that only Jack Bauer can stop. I understand the new Battlestar Galactica has pretty much withered on the vine. I still have high hopes for Lost, but I'm in the 'wait and see' mode right now.

Come to think of it, I can't really think of any show that I've seen ended satisfactorily. I'm probably missing something, but does anyone else know of some sort of good dramatic series which has been brought to a satisfying conclusion?  Or, alternatively, which shows that 'jumped the shark' or were driven into the ground bothered you the most?

5 responses so far

  • Personal Demon says:

    While not a "dramatic" series, I thought Futurama ended well. I was sad to see the series end, but the fifth season was excellent and the last episode perfect. I hope the new movies don't muck things up.

    I'm a season behind on Lost, and apparently I'm going to stay that way, as ABC has decided to release the next box set in DECEMBER!

  • The Girlfriend says:

    The only series that comes to mind that didn't "jump the shark" is M*A*S*H. Although the finale was a bit hard to swallow because it really portrayed Hawkeye surprisingly out of character.

    I didn't get to see it, but supposedly the Bob Newhart show had a great ending where he wakes up his wife to tell her about the strangest dream he just had and it is Suzanne Pleshette from the original Newhart show.

    As fare as driving shows into the ground, I think Lost bothers me the most. It had such promise and now it is just wandering around looking for a story line. Some oldies that were great and then dove into some unbelievable waters - LA Law, Moonlighting, Wings (don't laugh, I really liked that show!). They probably aren't as complex as Heroes or Lost, but still engaging and well written at the beginning.

  • skullsinthestars says:

    TG: Moonlighting is one I remember well, as I was watching it with interest when it collapsed. If you recall, that was the consequence of the writer's strike of the time - they brought in 'scabs' to fill in, and by the time the real writers returned, the show was lost.

    The only thing I can think of that ended well - or at least ended - was the original television series The Fugitive. I got obsessed with watching it a few years ago, so much so that I dreamed I was Dr. Richard Kimble, on the run from the law! They did bring the series to a conclusion, which was satisfying in its own right but not necessarily worth the overall invested time.

  • PD: Futurama is sort of the exception that proves the rule. Though it did have a broader storyline, it isn't really a drama. It was, of course, canceled unfairly (low ratings because it was always preempted by football), but it ended well I suspect because of the powerful and talented hand behind it (Matt Groening). Still, though, it clearly wasn't ended in the way that the creators had intended.

    Lost is the only hopeful one, since the creators have negotiated an end date for the series. Of course, it could still be canceled before then.

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