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Old September 14 2011, 09:15 PM   #16
JiNX-01
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

The main factor in a show's shelf life is viewership. Ratings = $$$.
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Old September 14 2011, 09:16 PM   #17
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

By "should" I meant, "in an idea universe that allows a good series to run for as long as its premise allows."
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Old September 15 2011, 04:31 AM   #18
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

I guess what I'm getting at is, it seems like the viewers have short attention spans, canwe really pay attention to a show and follow it up to or past a certain number if years? Let's say a show has all of the good qualities, what is the magic number. I believe it takes at least two seasons to really develope characters. So we get TNG that lasted 7 seasons, but I felt it could have gone another season or two. Then there's BSG which the story was contained within 4 seasons. Then you have Smallville and CSI which lasted a long run, but felt like should have ended somewhere around season 4,5 or 6. So I guess the shows that have ongoing story arcs can only last somewhere between 4-6 seasons before the writers, actors and audience starts to get tired of it.

Also, shows like Mash, X-Files, Cheers, ect. all existed in a world with less channels, less reality shows and longer attention spans. In the past 10 years we have seen these factors increase more and more. So, like I said, I just don't think Americans can really take long running shows anymore. I also don't think it's fair to cancel a show after only two seasons because like I said , I think it take that long to develope and become noticed. So I think studios should take a risk and give certain shows a 4 year contract. Give that show time to develope and grow, then based on ratings, they go year to year contracts. It just seems like this would work better. I think 4-6 years could be the magic number and then we wouldn't have writers dragging things on and on like in Smallville, plus you'd give writers a chance to explore their ideas. So if they want ongoing story arcs they could do that very well and if they want stand alones , they can explore those very well also. The only problem I have with ongoing story arcs is if you miss a couple of episodes or you don't start watching until later, you miss a lot of shit.
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Old September 15 2011, 09:18 AM   #19
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Lets narrow the question a little bit. We the viewing audience can handle as many quality seasons as a show can give us.

The problem is shows, and we're really talking specifically about high concept genre shows, need two important things to even make it onto TV. They need a concept/gimmick/premise that can get the show picked up. And they need a producing/writing staff that can sustain that premise.

For most genre shows one or both of those two things does wear out after a couple seasons. And I think that is due to the sort of showrunners and writers that are attracted to writing the sort of stuff we like to watch. They are extremely creative people, but it is also hard for them to stick with the same premise and keep plugging away at it day after day, season after season.

JJ Abrams creates some of the most high concept TV shows around, and almost immediately abandons them to lesser producers. Ron Moore seemingly loses interest in any show he writes for after two seasons. Joss Whedon could have stayed focused on Buffy, but got sidetracked onto other projects.

All of our genre writing heroes have an attention span of just a couple years, before any given show or project is stale to them. And once those creative forces are no longer fully committed to those projects they invariably suffer.

Yeah, budgets, ratings, all of that stuff matters as well. But we're never going to get a really good long lasting, sustained high quality genre show until we get some showrunners with a stronger sense of loyalty to their creations.
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Old September 15 2011, 05:25 PM   #20
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Agreed, the creative teams need to stay together and quite frankly, step their game up. These are their creations for the gods sake, take some pride in it. Don't just leave us fans hanging, we are what brought you to this point in the first place.

This is part of what happened to Smallvile, Millar took off and so did the quality of the show. I see these creative teams much like a band, yes members can be replaced and yes they can maintain a certain sound, but the band will never be the same if one member is gone.
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Old September 15 2011, 08:20 PM   #21
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Hilbilly Rage wrote: View Post
I guess what I'm getting at is, it seems like the viewers have short attention spans,
Do they have short attention spans? Or are their long attention spans actually hurting shows by pushing them beyond the point where the premise says they should have stopped?

Dexter's ratings are what's pushing that show beyond the number of seasons it should have had, to optimally explore the premise. If they're not careful, the producers will turn that show into a procedural, simply because they've run out of ideas.

Entourage went on and on, long past the point where there was anything left to say about the characters.

Kurt Sutter has said he's got a 7-year plan for Sons of Anarchy, which if he can pull off, bless him, but that show sure looks to me like the story needs to kick into high gear now (Jax's long awaited confrontation with Clay and Gemma) for a big wrap-up by the end of next season at the most.
I just don't think Americans can really take long running shows anymore.
Tell that to The Simpsons.

Or its sibling, Futurama. I love Futurama, but this past season, eeesh...they are really really out of ideas now.

Here's another show that has gotten hit or miss because the premise has been thoroughly squeezed: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
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Old September 16 2011, 07:31 PM   #22
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

I think when a show has story-arcs, it becomes harder to write something beyond 4 seasons. It's often why every new season will have a new story-arc. It's when a show that doesn't really have story-arcs that end up running longer, where the stories are a lot looser and not necessarily connected. The way I take it is, writers will get burned out quicker while writing story-arcs, and the show will run out of situations more quickly. Shows like the Simpsons are a good example of why a show like that can continue; no story arcs, and tons of pop-culture that can be used as the show continues to grow older. Sure, the writing may not be as sharp as it once was, but the formula is tireless, like a perputual machine.
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Old September 16 2011, 09:25 PM   #23
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Here's a TV show structure that could go on forever: where each season is in effect a different series, with new characters and maybe a new setting. Tim Kring wanted to use this for Heroes, and Harper's Island was going have a similar structure (each season a different murder mystery).

It's a sneaky way of having your new series auto-greenlit, by linking it to the series that actually was greenlit. But Heroes' fate shows why it might not pan out. When a series succeeds, the actors/characters are a big part of the success, so why dump them and screw the whole deal? Sounds like a sweet deal for showrunners but not so much for networks.
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Old September 16 2011, 11:41 PM   #24
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

At then end of the day the key figure to a shows continuation is viewers, and to a secondary extend how much it earns. As for whether or not 4 seasons is all we can handle, perhaps that is when the creative team need to be mixed up a bit to prevent it going stale.

After all some shows such as DW are at something like Series 32. Of course the TV landscape has changed over the years to a much more diverse market, but generally quality attratcs
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Old September 17 2011, 08:21 PM   #25
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Quality attracts viewers on cable. On broadcast, formula still seems to be king.
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Old September 19 2011, 01:06 AM   #26
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

The other thing to consider is that the writers of shows (not all, but most) also take very seriously what they can and can't do with their characters. How far have we taken Ryan? What else can we explore with Christine? Is there any more mileage left out of Peter's story? ... sometimes, you can write certain characters out and bring in new blood and reinvigorate a series. Sometimes, you can't. Sometimes actors want out. Sometimes actors simply won't leave

If the writers feel they've done everything they can with a certain character, they try to wrap that character up and give them a fitting exit. Sometimes they don't. But if you have a show where the story has been told, the energy may be better spent in wrapping everything up.

Based on the post-screening panel discussion of "Crossroads" at the Arclight in Hollywood a few years ago that the in-between-the-lines conversation that Ron Moore and David Eick had with the audience, it was fairly evident that what ended Battlestar Galactica when it did was that they wanted to have the show go for five seasons but SciFi essentially told them they'd only get four. So, rather than drag things out, Moore and Eick decided to focus on wrapping up the show.

Another element to consider: what is the franchise of the show? What's the basic hook that gets you in to each episode? Example: On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the franchise of the show was that every week there was a monster to fight so Buffy and the Scoobies would go to the library, then later the magic shop to research the demon of the week and how to fight it.

Depending on the show we're talking about, the franchise of the show may not be sustainable past a certain point -- Battlestar Galactica would be very difficult to continue after the Colonials reached Earth. But Stargate SG-1 was able to (sort of) re-invent itself after Richard Dean Anderson left partly because as big a part of the show as he was, he wasn't the only thing the show was about.
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Old September 19 2011, 04:10 AM   #27
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

On broadcast and maybe also on cable, the inhibition is what the viewers will accept in character change. I would think that writers would be gung ho to change characters a lot more than they do, but then you're stepping on the toes of the fans who might like Character A just like he/she is, or want change, but in a completely different direction. Guess wrong, and your ratings go in the toilet.

And character change can upset series longevity. For instance, after S4 of Dexter, I wanted the writers to use the "big event" at the end of that season to propel Dexter into a maniacal tailspin. But the character couldn't plausibly come back from something like that because once you amp the drama, you can't ratchet it back down.

So that development would have signalled that S5 or S6 would have to be the series end. Yet the ratings are strong enough to continue the show indefinitely, which seems to be the plan instead. And to keep the ratings on an even keel, Dex can't change all that much.
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Old September 19 2011, 05:19 PM   #28
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

There's no reason to think viewers couldn't handle an extremely long story. The problem is that there are very few stories that actually need that much time to unfold. Most multiseason stories screw themselves silly trying to stall the story resolution. Short attention spans really help most long stories because people forget what the series was really about and convince themselves that what they got at the end wasn't just foisted on them but really was `the essence of the series. Most stories about character development are usually unbearably silly. Mostly people grow up or grow old or adapt to a new situation. What they rarely do is character development where they "learn" something from an absurd series of scenes confronting other people.
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Old September 19 2011, 05:46 PM   #29
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
By "should" I meant, "in an idea universe that allows a good series to run for as long as its premise allows."
OK, I get it. I would certainly like the "ideal universe" to ensure NCIS (Gibbs is No. 1!), Castle, White Collar, Burn Notice and Royal Pains are on for a long, long time.
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Old September 20 2011, 05:09 AM   #30
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Re: Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

I guess it depends. Most shows I've enjoyed have gone on for one or two seasons too much and became a shell of their former selves.

Some like Melrose Place or TNG needed a season or so to find its footing then took off giving several solidly entertaining back to back seasons before sucking. Others are great from the beginning going on for several years before crashing and burning(Roseanne, The X-Files, The Golden Girls etc)

It just seems when a show is just starting and is fresh and new the writers are more excited about it and come up with a lot of good ideas. After churning out several years of consistently good hours, it is only natural that the writers simply burn out and run out of ideas and only because of network insistence due to good ratings is the show kept around resulting in the writers struggling and grasping for ideas leading to cast rotations, stupid story ideas, cute kids being added etc i.e. jumping the shark. It is only after a network has killed the golden goose do they give it the pink slip.

My own opinion is that if a show can give me interesting characters with *fresh* storylines consistently for 4 or 5 seasons I'm fine. I'd much rather a show end at its peak and miss it than see it turn into a hot mess the way so many popular shows do.

I think it is probably harder these days for episodic series to go on very long before getting old to viewers since those type of shows generally tend to just tell the same old chestnuts we've all seen a thousand times. Serialized shows have a better shot at longevity simply because they force greater creativity and a uniqueness tailored to the premise itself--and I'm not talking about the overly complicated messes like Heroes and LOST that drag shit out for years and years--I'm talking about your traditional serial with linear season long storylines with no convoluted timelines, flashbacks, ridiculously large ensembles etc.
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