The dilution of a TV series

It’s a sad day when a good TV series goes bad. It happens all the time and for various reasons. The most obvious thing is that once a new show is “good” or even “great”, it sets the bar for the following seasons. Ideally a show would want to be average and continue to improve but more often than not, no body watches an average TV show. So basically the shows that make it all start out good, hit their peak, and then descent down to nearly unwatchable. Once a show has been good for 4-5 years, there is no incentive to end at the height of the show. It’s a money maker and creators will milk it for what it’s worth. Starting from scratch is insane. Aside from The Wire, which quit after 5 awesome seasons, I have 4 shows that I think fall into this category.

The Simpsons

The first Simpsons episode aired in 1989 and has been continuing for 22+ years. This is unheard of. This is the longest running American sitcom. With 488 episodes, this will be my number one candidate for a show that has diluted itself into oblivion. Is this show still good? I honestly don’t know. I stopped watching 10 years ago when I felt the episodes declined into mediocrity. The ratings describe this as well. In 1990, the Simpsons drew 13.4 million households. In 1999, that total using the same metrics declined to 8.2 million. In 2000, there was a switch to actual viewers and that boosted ratings to 14.7 million viewers (which I suspect is comparable to the 8.2 million households.) In 2011, that number is down to 7.3 million actual viewers (probably half that in households.) The show has been on a decline and I assume they just continue making it because it’s the Simpsons and it can be put in history books no matter how shitty it becomes. No one will forget Mr Plow, Don Mattingly’s sideburns, Lisa needing braces, or who shot Mr. Burns, but no one will remember any episode after the year 2000.

Entourage

Who wasn’t fascinated with a look into Hollywood movie star Vinny Chase, his agent Ari and his amusing gang of friends in 2004. This show gave your everyday TV viewer a glimpse into Hollywood. Plot lines were simple with Vince’s attempt to be famous, E and director Billy Walsh’s conflicts, and Ari’s job trying to keep Vince out of trouble. The Aquaman season that brought Vince to fame and all the cool things that success brought was the height of the show. The Medeillin plot line in the 4th season is when things started to turn. The 5th season brought about Smoke Jumper, a movie with Vince as a firefighter, and a terrible decision to bring Turtle into a major plot line with a relationship with Jamie Lynn Sigler. If they would have made an epic 5th season and quit, this show would go down as greatness. Instead the 6th season is complete trash. Vince is out of the action, Turtle is in college, Drama on a TV show and E dating a girl (Ashley) other than Sloan was complete boredom. 7 was an interesting idea bringing Vince’s demise with pornstar Sasha Gray and 8 trying to save his career. The show, running only 22 minutes each episode, brought a show of celebrities and money that most people never have seen before. It was really entertaining even though the plot lines started to fade but this show was about 3 seasons too long. Stopping at the height of success isn’t easy.

Weeds

I can’t remember a show I was captivated by like Weeds. For 3 straight days I caught up and watched the first 3 seasons. A series about drug dealing, on Showtime, was a show that went that extra step with creative plot lines and a hilarious group of characters. The chemistry worked between Nancy and Andy, the family was dysfunctional enough to relate to and Agrestic was the perfect setting for a drug dealing female named Nancy Botwin. The series has been ongoing for 87 episodes which is more than it should have. The beginning seasons with Nancy and her rising role in the pot dealing was awesome. Nancy sleeping with the DEA agent at the end of season 1 made for the best season of the series in 2. The last episode of 2 with U-Turn, the Armenians and everyone else pointing a gun at Nancy in a room made for an unforgettable cliffhanger. I read the synopsis of 3 and nothing really rings a bell. I remember being interested but this show started fading. Season 4 with Esteban and the hole to Mexico is when it should have stopped. 5 is a pregnant Nancy dealing with Esteban. 6 was the worst season with Botwin family on the run and this 7th season was forgettable. I believe season 2 was the height of weeds. I seriously hope there isn’t an 8th season even though they had a Soprano-esque ending in season 7.

24

This was another series I caught up on in a matter of weeks. After watching the first season, I was hooked. After the 4th season, I was saying what the heck. The same plot line kept occurring. Someone was trying to blow up the world, there was a mole in CSI, and Jack Bauer would save the day. Season 3 was my favorite with the Salazar brothers. Jack’s heroin addiction, Kim and the Mountain Lion, Chloe’s constant annoyance and Jack falling for a female were enthralling. The hour by hour concept was also what made this show such a hit. It had never been done before and the shows attention to detail was unreal. However, once David Palmer went down and Wayne took over, I think the show should have quit. FEMALE President Taylor should have never happened. This show was as addicting as any show of all time. I still have great respect for this show but the last few seasons were just not as good. I have a feeling Kim Bauer should have taken the lead.