This Old Show: 3 long-in-the-tooth personal favorite TV shows that I may just retire from my repertoire.
I have only ever watched a handful of TV shows from start to finish, meaning from the premiere to the series finale and never missed an episode. Most shows I start somewhere in season 1 or 2 and go from there. For the TV series’ to which I devote my half hour or hour a week, I expect a lot. Some of the following shows I have threatened to quit every so often, but then I get surprised by a certain episode and am back in love.
However, there comes a point when even the best show, a show that has provided hours and hours of enjoyment through the years, has definitely run its course. I have a feeling my faves below are not long for my continued viewing pleasure.
1. Grey’s Anatomy
Oh, Greys…I will admit there was a time in my life when this show could do absolutely no wrong. Before I had cable or a way to really tape shows, and before I even had a decent working computer to watch episodes on Hulu or ABC.com (yes, I am aware it sounds as though I lived in a cave. I practically did), watching Grey’s Anatomy on Thursday nights at 9pm was an EVENT. I made dinner, bought a bottle of wine. Even my boyfriend at the time knew not to call me during the 9-10pm hour. More often than not, 9:59pm found me at least either teary eyed, or outwardly sobbing (I still contend this had nothing to do with the wine). Grey’s Anatomy , when it was good, it was GOOD: an all-star cast, fantastic storylines, and even wonderful and talented guest stars. In fact, while I was interning at a talent agency at the time, it was well-known that to get on Grey’s was practically an honor. I mean, remember what it did for Elizabeth Reaser’s career?
It was the most popular drama on TV for more than a few years running. And then something happened circa 7th season. The show started to drift into Soap Opera territory. It happened a little bit earlier in season 5 too, with Katherine Heigl’s truly awful “Sex with dead Denny” story line, but even then I was willing to cut the show some slack. The fabulous thing about Grey’s is that the show tends to get right back on track fairly quickly. Until recently.
What happened in Season 7 and subsequent seasons thereafter is that it started to play around with the formula. Story lines and character arcs are becoming tired. Case in point: in an effort to shake up the format, the audience was introduced to a musical episode where Callie’s character views the goings on around her from her “out of body” state following a severe car crash. I almost quit the show right then and there. It wasn’t necessarily a Jump The Shark moment, but the show ventured into a gimmicky silliness that belied the serious and truthful characters and backgrounds the series took a long time carefully establishing.
We found the doctors facing yet ANOTHER life and death scenario (probably almost every character’s 3rd or 4th brush with death) in season 8, which I admit was a great finale, however we are now back to most of the story line in subsequent episodes revolving around “coping” and “getting back into the game”, especially with Christina, and this theme has happened more than once (after Derek’s shooting is a prime example). In short, it’s becoming clear the series is having a hard time continuing the story in a plausible and believable manner that doesn’t resemble a soap opera. Even the music this season, which the show brilliantly used in previous seasons as a way to showcase new artists, has that melodramatic soap opera-y feel to it and comes on only to announce to the audience , “Ooh, here comes a sad part!” or “Oh, Weber is about to deliver a life lesson stay tuned!”
Part of this dilemma stems from the fact that most of the characters are established, right where the audience wants them. And this is a good thing in a few ways: Mere has Dere and absolutely NO fan of the show wants this pairing broken up again. Christina has Owen, and I for one will quit the show next week if Shonda Rhimes messes with Christina’s love life again. Not that I think they are great couple, but rather, Christina’s love life has always been my least favorite aspect of the show. I can’t handle another go-around of “Christina loves Owen but can’t saying anything and Owen sulks around the hospital yelling at people”. Callie and Arizona are solid, and as for the interns, well, I know there are more than a handful of fans who could care less about these newbies to the show. While these established story arcs, which have messed with and broken over the course of a couple seasons, are good news to fans it does definitely make for some uninteresting TV.
We are now two episodes away from Season 9’s finale and the future of the series is still unknown. Will it come back for season 10? Who knows at this point. Do I want it to come back? Ack…I still don’t know. To tell you the truth, I could take it or leave it. Yes, Mere is pregnant and so there is another story line that sort of hangs in the balance, but I don’t know if I necessarily care enough at this point to watch Mere and Dere cope with parenting and potential onset of Mere’s early Alzheimer’s. Bailey might get canned, but lately anyone who leaves just comes back a few episodes later. I simply don’t see where the story can possibly go for another 22-24 episodes, without it being a completely unbelievable mess.
VERDICT: Grey’s Anatomy, I think I can finally quit you.
I am probably not the first to admit that from a writing and structural standpoint, when you compare this show to say, Mad Men, or Game of Thrones, or Grey’s Anatomy, Bones is not a good show. Part of its appeal, I think, is that it has always unabashedly remained a not great (it’s not really even in the league of great) but campy and enjoyable series.
I watched the premiere of Bones mainly out of curiosity. The series is based on books by one of my favorite crime writers, Kathy Reichs. The show is indeed nothing like the books. The very first episode of the series was an awful mess and I tuned out of the show for about half of the first season. However, as the show progressed, it became a wonderful and kooky blend of forensic science, anthropology and detective work with a lead couple who had similar chemistry to Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting”. The series suddenly became very fun to watch. Sure, the plots are EXTREMELY formulaic, the setting is wholly unrealistic (I know it’s for the sake of the actors and dialogue, but no one wears masks when dealing with stinking and rotting bodies, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sexy coroner in incredibly high heels), and rarely are there any continuing story arcs, but the supporting cast and the leads formed a reliable troupe of nerdiness and style that was comforting enough to check in on week to week.
Bones has had its moments of great drama, usually revolving around a stray serial killer or two. This is when the show, which normally relies heavily on its routine formula of someone finding the body leading to an investigation then interrogation in every episode, is gripping. The standard plot arc goes out the window and the audience is kept in suspense. The show was also brilliant in keeping the sexual tension visible, but at arms length, with its two leads. The series toyed with a Booth and Bones coupling more than a few times, delighting and teasing the audience for a couple of years. I mean, I CRIED when Bones sat in Booth’s car sobbing when she realized she missed her romance window with him. I was one of the many fans who wanted Bones to end up with Booth.
However, the show ended up giving the audience exactly what it wanted a few seasons too early. Since Bones has been renewed for another season (I’m presuming its last) next year, this makes the third season in a row we’ve had Booth and Bones together. And it’s booorrrring! The sexual tension is gone and now it’s becoming unclear as to why I tune in every week. The cases are just too formulaic and uninteresting for me to keep going. Everyone is in a great space and conflicts are few. Hodgins and Angela are still a cool couple (I loved it when they got together too, also too soon) and the potential romance between Cam and the intern is intriguing, but the show never quite delves into either character enough for the audience to care. Same goes for Sweets and Daisy.
The show may be bringing back its serial killer-gone-loose story line with Pelant for the cliffhanger this season, which I think is great because he is scary and want to see this arc wrapped up, but I don’t think this will be enough motivation for me to keep watching next season. Where exactly can Booth and Bones go at this point? Of course there is marriage, but since they are practically married it’s kind of a “yawn” and feels like an anti-climatic way to end the series.
VERDICT: Depending on what happens in the next couple episodes, I will probably not tune in for the next season.
3. How I Met Your Mother
The show’s writers actually created a brilliant series by having the series’ endgame written into the show’s premise. The fact that we knew from the very beginning of the series that Ted would be meeting the Mother by the end of the series kept the audience hooked week to week. The only question became “WHEN” would Ted finally meet the Mother. Some folks say that journey has taken way too long.
I was actually an extra in the pilot for this series. Having done several pilots the 2005-2006 season, HIMYM was the only one I’d worked on where I knew without a doubt the the show would be a hit. The series is funny, relevant, and at times extremely moving. And most importantly, the writers and cast seem to understand the pathos behind people in their 30s so perfectly and compassionately.
There really isn’t anything else like this show on TV, or maybe ever. “Friends” came close, but that show never had its characters venture too far from the inner dating circle, leading to predictable couplings. Ted’s wife, on the other hand, is OUT THERE SOMEWHERE. We know it isn’t Robin or Lily, and so the game has always been afoot from the very beginning. I found one of the episodes a few weeks ago with Future Ted telling Present Ted to “hold on, she’s out there, you will meet her soon, just wait” absolutely heartbreaking and truthful. When we are in the midst of despair and sadness, it’s so hard to imagine a future of happiness. HIMYM has always done a fantastic job of keeping the audience tuned into the present while providing only a few hints into the future and the solution to the show’s riddle.
We’ve gotten glimpses of the Mother’s ankle, leg, and side arm. We know Ted will meet her at Barney and Robin’s wedding (if there is one. We know there is a reception, but anything can happen right?) The show has annoyingly and frustratingly, yet realistically, kept us in the dark for so long it knows we can’t hold out much longer. The Mother will most likely be revealed in a couple of weeks. She HAS to be!
And here is my dilemma: after Ted meets the Mother, will anyone even WANT to tune in after that? I’m one of the few who has completely enjoyed the ride of Ted’s journey to find his soul mate. I haven’t found the series taking too long of a time to reach the endgame. Actually, I think we are at the perfect point. He sees her, they finally meet, and he just KNOWS she’s the one. I’m not exactly sure I want any more. My only real complaint of the show is that Ted’s love interests are never very interesting. This casting of the Mother has got to be strong. In some ways I almost feel sorry for the actress who plays her: talk about extreme expectations and pressure!
If the show is wearing a bit thin this season, it is because the other characters are basically established. Only Ted’s future really hangs in the balance. You could still argue that Robin and Barney are up in the air, but for right now I think Ted’s story line is crucial. Lily and Marshall are suffering from what every TV couple suffers through once a baby is introduced. I believe it has been said by critics that once you introduce an infant onto a show, the show dies. It’s not entirely true in this case, but Lily and Marshall have no where else to truly go besides poop jokes, no sex or sleep, and the usual complaints that they can’t hang out with their friends too much. The show did do a wonderful job of finding some new foils for these two, such as Lily’s unexpected dissatisfaction with motherhood (a topic not talked about very much, but should be!) and how the other friends deal with Lily and Marshall as parents (which is such a turning point in friend relationships, by the way), but I think we’ve reached our peak with these two.
Can the show successfully fill 22 episodes next season with Ted falling in love with the woman-who-will become-the-mother, ending with what we all assume will be his wedding? My only guess as to what might make it interesting is if Robin marries Barney this season, but next season she realizes she made a mistake and it should have been Ted along (brought on by the fact that he is now happy and settled). But then again, how much more back and forth can one audience take? Look, I WANT Ted to finally be happy and I do want Robin and Barney to make it, and I for one am not quite ready to let this show go. My fear is that the last season, which we knew was coming, will be a let down of sorts and a disappointing end to what was such a promising beginning with this series.
VERDICT: I will probably stick it out through to the very end, even if it means one more season of getting to know the Mother. I still love this show with all my heart!