Friday, February 03, 2012

Why TV shows shouldn't last past three seasons

In writing, we rarely talk about a great book without reference to character and how the main character grew and changed over the course of the book. It's that character arc that takes a book from good to great. At some point the character reaches their end point, they have grown enough to have earned their happy ending and as a reader we close the book with a sense of satisfaction.

TV shows that focus on one character, or even a few, do the same thing, usually over a season, or two. But after three seasons, with the characters still making mistakes, and not growing quickly enough, especially in character driven shows like House, or Grey's Anatomy, I get frustrated.

I'm there right now with 30 Rock, a show I still watch every week, and love, but no longer find as funny as I once did. It's starting to feel like a 'been there, done that." Lemon still has self-confidence issues, Tracey is still an idiot, Jenna completely self absorbed and there's not much new in that.

House I gave up on several seasons ago.

Everything else I'm watching is either at the three seasons, or less. There are some shows that are exempt from the rule, like procedurals where the focus in on the crime of the week, or something like Game Of Thrones where the huge cast of characters and complex plot keep everything moving.

I'm even concerned about my beloved Vampire Diaries. Will I ever get tired of Damon's snark, or Alaric's morality or the brother's competing for Elena's attention? I'd rather it have three seasons than get tired in my memory and lose what I love about the show.


Eileen said...

Oh, Sinead girl, I am with you 100 percent. Grey's Anatomy. Desperate Housewives. ER (back in the day). There are a bunch of others. I get irritated and I'm done.

I'm the same with book series. I rarely last past book 2 or 3. BTW, I'm about halfway through Daughter of Smoke and Bone and was just getting bored and then Akiva found the wishbone. I'm back in.

Anonymous said...

It picks up from there, Eileen. It is a bit of an up and down read that book.

As for TV shows, I want shows to leave on their own terms, my good memories of them intact. The way I feel about Arrested Development, and even Battlestar, though that last season wasn't amazing...

Although now that I think about it. Friday Night Lights lasted 5 seasons and of all the seasons, it was the second that was the weak leak. The 5th season was as strong as the first.

Eileen said...

Good. I was about to give up on it last night, but it made a resurgence this morning while I was blowdrying my hair.

No TV show ending will ever be as good as the last episode of The Newhart Show. Absolute brilliance.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Totally agree!!!! And of course for me it's always the romance angle.

Shows featuring a couple (that we eventually want to get together) are simply in my mind contemporary romances being played out over a long time.

Castle, Bones, etc. Let them meet and be attracted, let them have their obstacles, let them over come them, and then let them get together - then let them leave.

To my way of thinking - you can eek that out for 4 seasons tops.

Bones was on this perfect path of actual character growth until they got greedy and wanted more.

Then they ruined it. Not it's a shell of what it was.

Same with House and Cutty. For five seconds as they moved the relationship along there was growth for him. Now... poof. Same old House. I haven't watched it since she left - but without her (or someone like her) where will his motiviation to grow as a human come from?

Saly said...

Till now I am loving my favorite Vampire Diaries as well but I have started seeing a pattern but it has not become that noticeable yet.

I am kind of tired of Grey's Anatomy but see it out of loyalty. I guess the best part of watching procedural's is that you don't have to worry about all of that, that is why I love Criminal Minds.

I am over the will they, won't they in Castle & got over that in Bones too, though I still see them when I have nothing to watch.

Pretty Little Liars is my guilty pleasure since I don't enjoy teenage romances.

To be honest Bones needs to end, they cases are not that interesting anymore and I am happy that Desperate Housewives is ending.

Do you see The Good Wife? It has great acting.

Eileen said...

Love love love The Good Wife. Great acting. Great characters. Great writing.

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, that post I did a month ago about a deeply flawed book I didn't want to name and almost stopped reading was Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But then I started to love it again. It's jarring when it flips from urban fantasy to full on high fantasy, but ultimately it worked for me.

I get sick of shows too if they don't have the chars change. I do still watch Grey's because I really think they have let those characters change. It will kill me if they ruin Vampire Diaries. Love that show.

Anonymous said...

Season 4 of Mad Men was the best ever! But that show has some of the best writing I've ever seen on TV. But Matthew Weiner says he won't go beyond 7 seasons, (I thnk) or is it 6? Anyway, he realizes it should not go past a certain time.

As for books, I love Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series - it fascinates me how much the character continues to grow. I've also loved the first 4 books of Laura Caldwell'z Izzy McNeil series - looking forward to book 5.

MJFredrick said...

I think Grey's has gotten good again. The whole Izzy hallucinating thing was bad (though I LOVE Jeffrey Dean Morgan) but I think last season it really got good. Supernatural, too, is on its sixth season and is pushing some boundaries. Battlestar Galactica was 5 seasons, wasn't it? And Gilmore Girls was 7 (but should have stopped at 6). Buffy was 7, Angel was 5. Maybe 5 is the magic number?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree - characters on the shows should have arcs, when the arc is over, end the show or kill the character and move on. NYPD Blue had me going for several seasons because the new guys...

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