Why do networks kill my favorite shows just when I am getting interested? Or is the problem my choice of shows? Either way getting invested in the characters and plot of the shiny new offering and having it canceled is a drag. I mean I am an average fan and have a weakness for the flashy promotional trailers of movies and television shows, you know the ones where they cut and piece scenes together to make the offering irresistible.
I can offer you a list of shows I have experienced this with: Last Resort, Jericho, V, No Ordinary Family, Dollhouse, Eli Stone and most of all Pushing Daisies. The bad taste left in my mouth is so bad I decided I would stop watching series from their debut and wait until they proved themselves. This was problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all, until recently when Netflix offered so many television shows you could not go back to catch up. Another complication was the shows that make it will often weave in a long developing plot element that does not make sense if you cannot watch the shows in chronological order.
I experienced this as I developed an interest in NCIS in season four. Sixty some episodes in the references to prior events were quite confusing. Thanks to the USA Network’s purchase of the syndication rights I was able to catch up piece by piece and feel like I am up to snuff now. Catching up can be hard, especially if you do not have the access. My experience with Lost was all courtesy of Netflix as I did not become a fan until after the finale.
So how do you combat this situation? Choose to not watch a new show during the first season. Right, like there are that many good shows to occupy the space. That is where I got in trouble with Last Resort, the ABC show that lasted just a few weeks last fall. It was about a ballistic missile submarine that decides to disobey a direct order and not launch nuclear missiles on Pakistan. When I got really interested the announcement came that the show was going to be removed. Nuts! Not again!
I have violated the rule again this season with three new shows: Hostages, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and The Blacklist. Of the 3 only The Blacklist is a shoo-in to make it to a second season. Meaning Hostages and Once Wonderland could possibly break my heart. But such is the game it seems.
I am hoping a leftover from last season, Revolution, will survive, but it seems to be slipping down the ranks of the “safe” shows also. Now that there are all these fledgling television networks there is also the possibility that it could slide off a major network and catch on somewhere else, but that is little comfort when you get invested in the franchise. The story about Jericho was that it would surface somewhere else, but as of now that is not true.
So what do I get out of this as a bottom line? Nothing will change. If the show is well-written, well-acted and well-directed it will survive. If not, then perhaps it should be cancelled. Maybe our standards have eroded as the proliferation of networks places even more demands on the pool of directing, producing, writing and acting talent. It happens with sports leagues, the more expansion there is the lower the qulity of the action on the court or the field. Until the day when quality is consistent (meaning never) this will be the norm. So, off I go to find the next long term jewel.