Today, I’d like to throw my three cents worth out there about a few old television shows that I felt failed in their latter year(s). By this, I mean shows that started out decently, but at some point veered off a cliff into a place they never should have gone. We’ve all seen it happen, and in some cases it can be entertaining to watch, but others not so much.
So, here, in no particular order, are a few shows I feel were written “to death.”
Earth: Final Conflict—This is a show I really enjoyed in its first few seasons. I was 17 when the first season hit the air, and I found the intelligent nuances of the show to be quite intriguing. Season two changed to a more traditional action-adventure sci-fi show, and to this day it is my favorite (though Season 2 has yet to be officially released in the US, due to copyright issues). I didn’t get to see the last 3 seasons when they aired, but purchased the DVD sets ages ago, to finally see the rest of the story.
What I found was that season 3 mostly maintained the spirit and theme of the series, but as we hit season 4, things began to slide a little. We got into the weird “Taelon energy drain” crap that seemed to be invented out of nowhere, and we ended that season in a spectacular mess, which could have been salvaged in Season 5, if the right writers were on the job. Sadly, they weren’t, and we ended up with a barely-watchable train-wreck. A lot of critics claim the show was seeking to be a cheap knock-off of Buffy, and I tend to agree with them. With the exception of the two episodes where Boone came back, and the finale with Liam Kincaid, this season was total crap. Grand Canyon-sized cliff!
House—Here’s a series that definitely had its ups and downs. I thought the first three seasons were excellent, and season four, while different, also had some good points. Season five felt a bit too “Soap-Opera-ish,” but then season six turned out to be the best of the entire run. Then... season seven hit. To begin with, it was quite good, but then later on it plummeted, and it ended in disaster (Cuddy being a bitch, House being a hopeless drug addict; yeah, real original). It felt like the writers suddenly changed their minds about where they wanted to go, and ended up with a mess they couldn’t fix. Season eight tried to recover from the end of the previous season, but it wasn’t enough (plus I never liked the contrived Wilson-cancer thread). It was like the show fell off the cliff at the end of season seven, was airlifted to a hospital, only to limp out of intensive care at the final end of the series.
Frasier—I’m not that big on sitcoms these days (probably because they don’t have many good ones anymore), but when I was younger I remember quite a few, and Frasier was among my favorites. It generally had intelligent, witty humor, and it was only on rare occasions that things would get low-brow, or that a character would slip out of character. That was, until season ten. That’s when the quality of the show really plummeted. A lot of the humor became dull innuendo or wacky. In some ways, it seemed like they were trying to morph the show into something else, and it didn’t work. There were still some good episodes in season ten, and season eleven brought us back to the brilliant comedic writing we saw in the earlier years, but S10 was definitely a cliff dive.
The Drew Carey Show—Another comedy that I really enjoyed in my youth, though today I’m not sure I’d appreciate it as much. The first five years or so were consistent and funny, but then things started to fall apart, and by the end of the series I wasn’t even watching anymore.
The Gilmore Girls—I hate this show, but my wife likes it, and when we first got married I would watch it with her. It has been a long time since I had to see it, but I recall us watching the last season when it first aired, and we both had a bit of a “what the...?” reaction to some of the story developments toward the end. In general, the characters just did some things that seemed inconsistent. I’d be more specific, but to be honest I’ve done my best to forget it.
Lost—Okay, to be fair, this whole series was a train wreck in some ways, but I enjoyed it. Though, the last season went from weird fun to “let’s try to sort of explain all the crap we made up over the last five years with more weird crap.” That was working, and they might have pulled it off if they hadn’t gone with a sappy cop-out of an ending. Look, you already have a great show with fantastic elements in it. You could have gone out with an “alternate reality” ending to explain the dual existence thing, but no. They wimped out at the end, and screwed up what was shaping up to be a great resolution. Instead of changing the timeline, we got the “we’re all dead” crutch finale. I’m sorry, but the ending, as sweet and sucky as it was, definitely threw the series off a cliff.
All right, there we have half a dozen shows off the top of my head. Some people may disagree with a few of my choices, but I’m sure you can think of others to fill out your own list. So, what shows do you think were written off the cliff?