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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > TV & Media

TV & Media Non-Trek television, movies, books, music, etc.

View Poll Results: Which is better...
1) quick death, forgotten 1 5.88%
2) multi-season, diminishing quality 14 82.35%
3) early death, immortality in cult following 2 11.76%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 25 2013, 08:01 AM   #1
Data Holmes
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Which is better...

Outside of a few instances, such as NCIS, a show is faced with one of three prospects.

1) one season, flops hard, canceled and left to media obscurity.
2) multi season, but declining quality leading to cancellation, fondly remembered.
3) one season, no renewal, hardcore following of a small but vocal fan base props the show up into timeless legend of cult classic, heralded as "lost too soon" with new fans finding the show each passing year.

So which is better?
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Old March 25 2013, 03:29 PM   #2
Gaith
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Re: Which is better...

4) Run for several high-quality years, then wrap up before your show withers into an etiolated shadow of its former self. See: Boston Legal, Early Edition, The Wire, Rome.
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Old March 25 2013, 04:12 PM   #3
Spot's Meow
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Re: Which is better...

I would say multiple years with diminishing quality, because often such shows are good enough that even at their worst they are better than most of the new stuff that comes along. Also, you grow attached to characters and care more about seeing their lives through than having quality, thought-provoking plots.
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Old March 25 2013, 04:17 PM   #4
Kelthaz
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Re: Which is better...

Multi-season, diminishing quality. If the show is still decent (Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, Buffy), I'll continue to watch. If it becomes unwatchable drek (The Simpsons), I'll stop watching the new episodes and enjoy the earlier seasons. I can't lose.
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Old March 25 2013, 05:59 PM   #5
auntiehill
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Re: Which is better...

Multi-season, diminishing quality. However, I agree with Gaith that it would be nice if more shows took the path of "going out on top" rather than dragging on to a slow, miserable death.

I think Kelthaz hit the nail on the head with the example of Supernatural. Is it as good as seasons 3, 4, etc? No, it's not, but it still has some good moments and the characters are still very interesting and likable.
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Old March 25 2013, 06:06 PM   #6
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Re: Which is better...

Instead of creating a premise and characters for a show, and then running both of them into the ground as the seasons move along.

Create a premise, characters and a story-arc. Yes, this requires more logistical planning, and designing trap doors and various storytelling tricks into your story. And yes there is no guarantee that you'll get to tell the story you want(you probably won't), but at least you swung for the fences instead of settling for mediocre.
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Old March 25 2013, 07:36 PM   #7
Admiral2
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Re: Which is better...

Gaith wrote: View Post
4) Run for several high-quality years, then wrap up before your show withers into an etiolated shadow of its former self. See: Boston Legal, Early Edition, The Wire, Rome.
What he said...
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Old March 25 2013, 07:39 PM   #8
cultcross
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Re: Which is better...

Caliburn24 wrote: View Post
Instead of creating a premise and characters for a show, and then running both of them into the ground as the seasons move along.

Create a premise, characters and a story-arc. Yes, this requires more logistical planning, and designing trap doors and various storytelling tricks into your story. And yes there is no guarantee that you'll get to tell the story you want(you probably won't), but at least you swung for the fences instead of settling for mediocre.
I think when I was young I naively assumed this was part of the show creation process. Then as I read and learnt more aobut how TV shows are made it became more and more apparent that the majority of shows are started on the pilot and maybe two or three more story ideas. Obviously there are exceptions, and I think it's telling that those are probably the shows we still think fondly of many years later. But even shows where the need to do that should be really, really obvious (like 24) seemed to have little or no planning at all.
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Old March 25 2013, 08:06 PM   #9
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Re: Which is better...

But you can't always plan out a show in advance. In fact I'd go as far to say that it's a bad idea (excluding a few exceptions like Babylon 5). Before you've even cast your show or seen how things work out on screen, you're supposed to have plotted the entire series arc? You need to get comfortable writing for the show and you need to know your actors' abilities before planning out a huge arc that will last for years.
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Old March 25 2013, 09:22 PM   #10
auntiehill
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Re: Which is better...

Plus, the most successful shows that appeal to worldwide markets are ones that don't have much of an arc at all. The CSI programs, for instance--that's what people want to watch. They want mindless entertainment, where they can wander in at any time, watch an episode, and know what's going on. Then, after missing a few episodes, they can jump right back into it without any problem.
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Old March 26 2013, 06:28 PM   #11
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Re: Which is better...

I doubt that anyone thinks that option 1 is better than the others, unless you mean "it was a bad show, so it's better for us it was cancelled and forgotten". Out of the other two, I think option 2 is better. Fans may forever hail and mourn a show like Firefly as awesome and short-lived and for all we know, its reputation may even be greater because it didn't get to annoy people with bad episodes or storylines and developments they disliked - but the fact is that it still was cut short and not allowed to fulfill its potential.

Whereas a show that lasts several seasons gets to explore the ideas the writers had, develop the characters and really fulfill its potential. So if there are bad episodes and bad storylines along the way, in most cases it's still worth it for the good episodes and good storylines and character development. (That is, if we;re talking about the shows where there is such development, rather than the endlessly repetitive procedurals.)

And IMO, in over 50% cases the so-called "diminishing quality" is simply a portion of the fans disliking the directions that the show took or the way the characters and relationships developed or the way the format changed - which is inevitable if the show isn't endlessly repetitive. You'll often find other fans who will argue that they loved the same developments and storylines and that they loved those later seasons even more. (For example, the Buffy fandom.) Take Lost: it told its story; it turned out that many people were disappointed, but what can you do. I prefer that to the show being cancelled on a cliffhanger and people being left to wonder forever how it would have ended.

Or, take The X-Files, one of the shows that went down in my estimation when the mythology became so convoluted that it became clear that Carter never actually had any idea how to resolve the mysteries he had introduced. It it had been cancelled in, say, season 5, I might think much higher of it, but I'd probably believe that Carter had a great story to tell and be sad that I didn't get to see it. (At least with BSG, I always knew they were making it up as they went along since RDM was so sincere about it in his podcasts.)
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Old March 26 2013, 09:57 PM   #12
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Re: Which is better...

So, this thread was sprung out of a recent purchess of mine. I love the show "Space: Above and Beyond", and would classify it as one of the best shows of the 90's. After getting bit by the bug to watch it again and being unable to find it anywhere on line, outside of a few clips on YouTube that only made me want to watch it even more, I went and bought it off amazon.

After I did, though, I started to wonder if shows like it, firefly, and others. If they would still be talked about, and developed such followings in their respective communities, if they had survived longer.

And, if the "new media" model currently developing, based around on demand, and streaming, if that will change it. A show with a small but loyal following could survive and even flourish in the new model. But so could a very bad one. And in the end, what way to go is better.


I really should have hought out the first post better. It made complete sense to me at four in the morning.
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Old March 26 2013, 11:35 PM   #13
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Re: Which is better...

I suspect, if Firefly had not been cancelled, it would still have generated a cult following of some size - shows like that just do, look at BSG or Game of Thrones, but would it be as famous as it is, or hailed as a near-perfect show by it's devout fans? I doubt it. We'd have threads going about whether Firefly jumped the shark in season 5 or 6, and how lame it was to introduce Zoe's little sister without explanation half way through. No show can sustain an unblemished record through multiple years of production. Or, to put it another way...
Kelthaz wrote: View Post
But you can't always plan out a show in advance. In fact I'd go as far to say that it's a bad idea (excluding a few exceptions like Babylon 5). Before you've even cast your show or seen how things work out on screen, you're supposed to have plotted the entire series arc? You need to get comfortable writing for the show and you need to know your actors' abilities before planning out a huge arc that will last for years.
...even the best plan rarely survives contact with the enemy.

You're right, of course. I'm just a long running fan of 'arc' shows and nothing frustrates me more than shows which sell themselves as being that when they really aren't - 24 being the best example, but there are plenty of others making it up as they go along. CSI and its ilk - different ball game - they never set out to be anything other than self contained, episodic entertainment ,with a little ongoing character development to satisfy long term viewers. It is the shows that set out to be epic operas clearly without planning their story even a little bit that irritate me. Writers probably don't want to 'limit themselves creatively', but with weekly deadlines this quickly becomes not giving themselves enough time to be creative.
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Old March 27 2013, 02:07 AM   #14
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Re: Which is better...

That's a tough one, but I ultimately went with the middle option. Yeah, there's something about a great show that ended too soon, and I certainly have plenty in my DVD collection (Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, Brisco County, Jr., and Firefly, just to name a few). But after watching them a number of times, I find the what-ifs of their untapped potential starts to weigh against the fact that they didn't run long enough to start sucking. That's my personal hang-up, anyway.
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