7.30.2003

JumpTheShark.com is a pretty cool site, where people vote on exactly when they think certain TV shows go bad. For instance, like when Leonardo DiCraprio joined the set of Growing Pains. It's also interesting to see which shows most people didn't think ever jumped, and compare them with the shows I think never jumped, like the X-Files, or the Wonder Years. To me, it's really hard to know when a show jumped, because I don't really think there are that many defining moments in a television series where you can say, "Well in Episode X this was great, but after they did this in Episode X+1, Episodes X+1, X+2, ..., X+n" all sucked. It's more like you can notice a steady decline of quality, and you just go to the very last point in which you know the show was still outstanding. Take Roseanne for example, which I never had I regard for, but when I heard the show was ending, I was surprised; I'd figured the show had ended seasons ago. It was more of a gradual process that made me not even care about the show anymore. Of course, there do exist the extreme cases where we can really chronicle when a TV show goes downhill. A good example is NewsRadio and its demise after Phil Hartman died.

It's also amazing that every single thought I've ever had about any television show is on this site. It just once again reaffirms that the chance that I'll ever have an original thought is nil. Also, it reinforces the idea that most television shows out there suck. Even the ones I remembering enjoying as a child -- Full House, Growing Pains, Family Matters, Step by Step, etc. -- were all crap. But it's also good to know that the shows I thought were really great, like Quantum Leap, for instance, really were great.

(Sidebar -- if anyone has a copy of the last Quantum Leap episode, let me know -- I need to watch it)

However, it does give me a newfound respect for the writers of television shows. There are so many different variables to account for when writing a TV script, like network censors, greedy/stubborn actors, limited time -- it definitely doesn't come close to the freedom one gets when writing, say, a novel.

I think the main problem is that networks are afraid to develop new shows, preferring to stick with their solid hits, which of course, is natural. But that mentality leads to less quality. A good sitcom probably has only a good four-five years. I think dramas have a longer lifespan, though. With that said, here are some shows I think need to end:

1. Friends: They had billed this as the last season. "Cherish every episode," NBC execs told us. You could even begin to see a contuining story line from week to week. Then they signed on for another season.
2. The Simpsons: I feel like this show has been done for a long time now.
3. Law and Order: What's been keeping Law and Order alive for so long is the fact that the show is very plot driven, allowing NBC to modify its cast seemingly every season now. However, now we're at the point where we have no links to the original cast, and the formula's getting tired.
4. Dr. Phil: Ok, so this show is relatively new. This guy just kind of annoys me. I tend to be against advice shows anyway.
5. Crossing Over with John Edward: "Yeah, I'm seeing an S, anyone out there have an S, a Susan, Sally, Sammy?" No, but I see a particular four-letter word, John: SCAM. This guy doesn't annoy me, but television networks shouldn't be airing some faker who happens to be a relatively convincing cold-reader. I believe Dateline ran an expose of this guy and his cheap tricks.

And then lastly, some shows... which I'm not sure are still on the air anymore, but if they are, they should probably disappear soon:
6. ER
7. The Drew Carey Show

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