Is Four Seasons all We Can Handle?

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Nowhere Man, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Commodore

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    I've noticed in recent years that good well written tv. shows only last roughly four seasons. BSG comes to mind first as well as Enterprise, which one could argue was poorly written. Now we have Breaking Bad and a few other good shows are ending after their fourth seasons. Obviously a few factors come into play these days, production cost, actually paying writers, reality shows, too many chanels, and many other problems. So it seems like all of these factors plus the attention span of Americans continues to dwindle. So we end up with most channels having one or two(if we are lucky) good, well written dramadies/ regular drama. Then the rest is reality shows and other crap. It seems to me that four, maybe five seasons is the magic number. With BSG, we see that full story can be told within four seasons. I would have lked to have seen a fifth season of BSG and Enterprise. So maybe somewhere around four or five seasons is all we can handle anymore. Three seasons or less seems too short and once you get into seasons six and seven things seem worn out. Now I wouldnt apply that to animated shows and most comedies.
     
  2. IndyJones

    IndyJones Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Breaking Bad is getting a fifth season. :wtf:
     
  3. Joe Washington

    Joe Washington Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I understand what you mean. Certain shows just drag on after the fourth season until something happens to energize it.
     
  4. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Breaking Bad is ending with their fifth season next year.

    BSG had no plan so they ended it after a fourth so they wouldn't get canceled without an ending.

    Enterprise got canceled because... Well let's not start that fight again.

    MASH went 11 years right? I enjoyed most of the show. Just depends on writing, and if they know how to write and take chances.
     
  5. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Being Erica is starting its fourth and final season. Based on an interview with the show runner, I get the impression that this show was also cut short so that it wouldn't get cancelled without an ending. It gets renewed from year to year and the rating started faltering in season 3.
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    DEXTER is just starting its sixth season . . . .
     
  7. JiNX-01

    JiNX-01 Admiral Admiral

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    NCIS' 9th season begins next Tuesday. :)
     
  8. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    It's a variety of factors.

    -Novelty of the concept wears off

    -Writers often have a certain idea for the show, but after 4 years, they've gone as far as they can without reinventing things, which often involves a change of direction

    -Flip side of that is just continuing to go with the formula, which may be fine for some, but others drop out as the show becomes too predictible.

    -Around the point where actors' contracts may start to run out, leading to cast changes, main characters leaving/dying/recast. Or if the show got big, actor may be a big deal now and want out to go after a movie career.

    -Really think it's mostly just concept. You start with a great idea for a show, and unless you very carefully plan it out for a long duration run (and hard to know that in advance, so you often give a lot early in case it's shorter than you wanted), but after 3-4 years, you've usually exhausted most of what you set out for originally, and start stalling for time (see LOST, which is an easy example, and didn't pick back up until they had a firm end date, and could plan the rest out, or at least as much as they did, anyway :) ) Show may still have good storylines in it, or characters may be popular, but it's not usually as good as it was when the writers still had big plans for the show. Becomes a game of running out the clock, seeing how long you can keep the money flowing without having to start over...
     
  9. LitmusDragon

    LitmusDragon Commodore Commodore

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    I thought this thread was going to be about adding more seasons like Finter or Spummer.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, I think it depends on the show, I think stuff like the Trek series were justified in going to 7 seasons.

    House I think could probably have ended after the 4th season.

    Farscape needed more than 4 seasons.
     
  10. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    It really depends on the show. If a show is arc-heavy like nuBSG it's very hard for a show to sustain momentum, especially of the writers don't have a long-term strategy, which of course is hard for writers to do when we live in a world where most shows are voted off the island after 13 episodes (run the stats and you'll find the number of shows that actually survive to a second season is actually in the minority; drop the percentage even further if it's a genre show on mainstream network TV - Fringe and Chuck have both defied the odds and X-Files' 9-year and Smallville's 10-year runs were remarkable, though you'll find many saying those shows should have ended after 4-5 years). Shows that do tend to last are those that don't have ongoing arcs and rely on standalones for the most part - the Star Treks qualify for this, and of course Law & Order, the CSIs, and of course Doctor Who. That doesn't mean there can't be "internal arcs" lasting a few stories or even a whole season, but compare to nuBSG or Lost which attempted to tell a single story have multiple years.

    On the other hand, soap operas run with their arcs for years, sometimes decades. So I think it really depends on the audience, and how the show is handled, and if they have a game plan. Babylon 5 had a game plan, but even it ran into trouble because it lost its lead actor after the first year, and got cancelled with one year to go, so they had to change the plan. Farscape got screwed royally.

    The thing that annoys me is when a show is compared with another in a franchise and declared a failure because it didn't last as long. Forget any subjective quality issues, Enterprise was in no way a failure - it lasted 4 full seasons. Those who call it a failure based on length criteria must therefore declare Farscape, Firefly, etc failures as well. Most SF producers would kill to get 4 seasons.

    Alex
     
  11. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Depends on the show.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  12. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    It can also be entirely for business reasons (i.e. Battlestar). Some shows are just plain at the mercy of the budget, despite having a more creative longevity.
     
  13. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But the fourth is the best. ;)
     
  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Nah, I gotta go with the second or third. Trinity was a little too-over-the-top for my tastes. With all due respect to Lithgow, he felt more like a collection of serial-killer tics and gimmicks than a real person, as opposed to, say, Miguel Prado who was believable enough to be really scary.

    But I digress.
     
  15. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Lost lasted 6 seasons and I enjoyed them all. DS9 lasted 7 seasons and I enjoyed them all. Conversely, I bail on most shows after checking out one episode.

    The only moral to the story is that there's no moral to story. Some shows are worth watching; most aren't. Some shows have one good season in them (Prison Break) and others, managed correctly, could go on indefinitely (Heroes or a Star Trek series that returned to the TOS approach).

    The length of time a show should run is determined by the premise.
     
  16. JiNX-01

    JiNX-01 Admiral Admiral

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    The main factor in a show's shelf life is viewership. Ratings = $$$.
     
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    By "should" I meant, "in an idea universe that allows a good series to run for as long as its premise allows." ;)
     
  18. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Commodore

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    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.
     
  19. Caliburn24

    Caliburn24 Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  20. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Commodore

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    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.