When TV shows go bad …

Mrs. MMM recently read me something (which is why I don’t have a link) in which a bubbly writer suggested that Scrubs fans are hoping Zach Braff and Donald Faison continue to be regular fixtures in our prime-time lineup for years to come.

One Scrubs fan — this one — would like to object. Especially after tonight’s episode, which was every cutesy affectation you hate about the show wrapped up into one nauseating collection of musical numbers. In Season 6, it’s no longer funny that J.D. likes appletinis. And it’s not believable that Turk doesn’t know Carla’s Dominican rather than Puerto Rican.

Scrubs has now run longer than NewsRadio. They’ve produced more than twice as many episodes as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Most BBC sitcoms run a couple of six-episode seasons — The Office and Fawlty Towers were 12 episodes each. (The Office added a holiday special.)

Sure, 12 isn’t enough. There’s always the Absolutely Fabulous approach — do a couple of six-episode seasons, add the occasional special, then do another season if the muse strikes. That’s why we’ve seen five seasons over 12 years.

Sometimes, jokes get run into the ground (Scrubs). Dramas have a different problem. They’re usually contingent on characters facing some sort of crisis. After a while, you hit crisis fatigue (ER).

Which brings us to Friday Night Lights.

I was thrilled that the show got picked up for the whole season. But if it’s not renewed, I’m OK with that. I’d rather have 22 great shows than 44 shows of gradually decline. I want closure, not more tragedy. (What else could they possibly do to Street?)

Networks are going all reality these days, anyway, because it’s cheaper to produce. So why not save money by producing fewer seasons and shorter seasons, boosting the incentive to make those shows better?


4 thoughts on “When TV shows go bad …

  1. I’ll still watch Scrubs on occasion, but the syndicated reruns get me more excited. I started losing interest once Dr. Cox was no longer an authority figure over the leads.

    I agree with the less-is-more approach (Alias could have gone down as one of the best shows in history if it ended at 3 seasons), but I guess it’s bad for business.

    All the same, I really don’t want Prison Break to try a 3rd season.

  2. Neel — Prison Break is one of those shows I haven’t seen but might want to catch on DVD one of these days. The ads and everything I read about it look intriguing.

    So there’s another reason to do only two seasons.

    I don’t watch Lost, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge, but maybe the dropoff in ratings stems from viewer fatigue. Five years, and they’re still on the island? To keep it fresh, they’re shifting focus to the “others.”

    Even Wagner kept things to a few hours of opera.

  3. I don’t watch Lost either, but each season only covers about 2 months. So they’ve only been on the island for half a year.

    I think the TV industry (and more to the point, syndication) has changed enough so that the 100 episode, 5 season rule no longer applies. House is on USA. Grey’s Anatomy is on Lifetime. Heck, Heroes and Ugly Betty get replayed on Sci-Fi and ABC Family.

  4. I still enjoy Scrubs very much, but wanted to wait to comment until I saw the musical episode, which I finally caught last night. This episode was much, much weaker than the others so far this season. I think they were just working so hard to fit the musical format that they pretty much forgot about any of the show’s development. Stephanie D’Abruzzo was also a disappointment, and I adored her in Avenue Q.

    I won’t stop watching just yet, but I’m still waiting for a moment so hysterical that I have to pause while I stop crying (like when guest star Julianna Margulies kicked all those guys in the crotch in her dance number).

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