Three Reasons Why Television Shows Fail

As I sit here watching last week’s exceedingly uninteresting new episode of One Tree Hill on Hulu, I can’t help but feel an extreme sense of loss. This program used to be so freaking good. Circa seasons 2-4, One Tree Hill had some of the most powerful and creative story arcs on television. Now what has this program come to? They’re bringing back the cougar and young guy story line, a psycho comes into the picture and pretends to be someone they’re not, and ugly ass Mouth is somehow the only one getting tail in Tree Hill. Remember basketball? The voice-overs with quotes from famous authors? The original 5 characters that we have come to love?

There comes a time in the life of every television program where the writers and executive board hit a road block. Some shows find a way to rise above and continue to produce good television. Others fall by the wayside and they become syndicated history. In my opinion, there are a few main reasons why good shows fail, they are as follows:

1. The characters go off to college: Chances are pretty slim that you and your 5 closest friends all chose the same college to attend. So this puts the writers in a dilemma: how do we keep the chemistry between our actors when they are all at different schools? Eureka! We’ll create a new school that is in their hometown (or close by) and have them all attend there. There is no actual Penbrook University, the college  Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Angela on Boy Meets World all magically chose to attend. And in sheer coincidence, that’s where Jack and Eric also go to school AND where Mr. Feeny happens to end up. Joey Potter gets accepted at the uber prestigious and uber fake Worthington College on Dawson’s Creek. Jen and Jack go to school at the equally as fake and half as prestigious Boston Bay College. Where do both of these fake institutions happen to be located? Boston (I guess I kind of gave that away), which is conveniently 15 minutes away from their fake hometown of Capeside.  Dawson then loses his way (of course), drops out of USC (idiot) and moves to where? Boston. Shocker.

Most shows that document high school fail when the characters transition to college. All of the family dynamics are lost, presumably because the parents don’t follow them to college. A bunch of new characters are introduced which takes screen time away from the characters we’ve formed a connection with. Most of the time the circumstances that bring all main characters to the same place are stupid and usually involve some sort of loss of faith, death of a family member, or being kicked out of school for ridiculous circumstances.

2. A main character is killed off / leaves: Getting rid of an essential cast member is one boat that should not be rocked. Yes, Marissa was annoying on The O.C. But she was the source of a lot of drama and half of the beloved pair of Ryan and Marissa. Were the writers missing broody and angry Ryan so much they needed to kill off his girlfriend to get him moody again? It’s common knowledge that I loathe the character of Peyton on One Tree Hill, but her and Lucas’ departure from the show have killed it. Ever since Dr. Burke left on Grey’s Anatomy, I can’t imagine Cristina being happy with anyone else. Any story line pairing her with another guy makes me cringe. Grey’s hasn’t been the same for me since Burke left, and then they have the nerve to kill my beloved George?!  FML. I am so not looking forward to tomorrow’s Lost, where I have been told that losties just start dropping like flies.

3. Story lines get recycled: How long can a couple play-out the “will they / won’t they” before the audience explodes? Apparently Friends can do it for 10 years. How many times can someone attempt to kill Dan Scott? How many times does Clark Kent have to save Lana Lang before she realizes he’s got magical powers? Seeing the same thing over and over and over again gets tiresome. The program eventually becomes so predictable that it’s not even worth watching anymore.

Alas, I have a sinking feeling this will be the last season of One Tree Hill. It didn’t even get to redeem itself. I am praying that the CW will give OTH one last chance to make things right aka bring back Leyton, ditch the newbies, and start showing the geniusness I know the writers still have.

RECAPS: TV Wrap-Up

Ah, the early spring hiatuses have begun. Has anyone else noticed that there is nothing on television anymore?!

One Tree Hill: I found this episode very boring. I know the death of Mama James should have had more an effect of me…but it didn’t. I feel like the whole “my parent has cancer – child wants them to fight but it’s a losing battle – parent dies” story line has been WAY overused. It was still touching and very well acted, but I guess I wanted a more original story line for Mama James. I am praying to every higher power that One Tree Hill gets picked up for an eighth and final season so the writers can wrap up the show properly. The show is going to crap as of late.

Lost: On the flip side, Lost just keeps getting better and better. This final season is turning out to be amazing. I am so glad that we are finally learning the answers to some of the fundamental questions on the show. Jack is a father in the flash-sideways story line…never saw that coming. In the final moments of the episode, Hurley and Jack arrive at the humongous lighthouse on the island (a light house they have conveniently never found during their 108 days on the island). Hurley tells Jack that Jacob has instructed him to turn the wheel to bearing 108 to help direct someone to the island. 108 has a name next to it on the wheel, Wallace. Okay, Damon/Carlton & Co., who the hell is Wallace?! I sincerely hope it’s not a random character being added to the show in the final episodes. It is becoming glaringly obvious that the passengers on flight 815 were indeed called to the island.

Nip / Tuck: Nip / Tuck’s last episode ever will be aired next Wednesday. So sad. I always look forward to tuning in to the tumultuous lives of those at McNamara/Troy. I recently read in an article here about the finale, saying that the “final hour of Nip / Tuck was unlike anything we ever expected.” This disappoints me slightly. The best thing about the show was the shock factor. I’m still looking forward to the series finale nonetheless AND to see what happens with Matt and Ava. Poor kid can’t seem to catch a break.

Valentine’s Day: I finally saw Valentine’s Day last night and it yet again asserted to me how amazing ensemble cast movies can be. Sure, some story lines took slight precedence over the others, Ashton Kutcher’s character for example, but the sharing of screen time was equally dolled out between the large cast. I personally loved the “best friends to something more” story line of Kutcher and Jennifer Garner. They were really believable as best friends. The whole Eric Dane – Bradley Cooper story line came out of left field for me. Truly a shocker there. I am not used to seeing Dane without scrubs and Cooper without Zach Galifianakis. Anyways, lovely movie.

Top 10 Episodes of One Tree Hill

[EDITED March 17, 2012]
I will be the first to admit that One Tree Hill has overstayed its welcome by at least 2-3 seasons. The show was in its prime through seasons 3-4, and even though 5-6 had a completely different feel, it was still pretty quality television. Save for a few storylines, seasons 7-8 were a total bore for me. Season nine, however, I am thoroughly enjoying. What’s more, Chris Keller is off my bitch-list. Miracles do come true.

Even though OTH has jumped the shark many times and has somewhat become the laughing stock of television, I will be the first to defend this show to the death. And in honor of some of its best moments, I give you my favorite episodes of One Tree Hill:

10. I and Love and You, Season Seven
Sometimes we fall short of the people we were meant to be. Sometimes people do things they’re ashamed of. And usually after the guilt sets in, we make things worse. My son Nathan Scott is a good man, but sometimes people do funny things in the face of pressure and desperation, and the truth, well, the truth is an absolute. And the truth can set you free.

9. Life Is Short, Season Five
Sometimes when you’re young, you think nothing can hurt you. It’s like being invincible. Your whole life is ahead of you and you have plans. Big plans.But as you get older you realize it’s not always that easy. It’s not until the end of your life that you realize how the plans you made were simply plans.  Because at the end when you’re looking back instead of forward, you want to believe you made the most of what life gave you. You want to believe you’re leaving something good behind. You want it all to have mattered. 

8. The Show Must Go On, Season Three
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Love alters not with time’s brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. 

7. Are You True?, Season One
To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

6. A Multitude of Casualties, Season Three
I wanted you to FIGHT FOR ME. I wanted you to say there’s no else you want to be with and that you would rather be alone than without me. I wanted the Lucas Scott from the beach that night telling the world that he’s the one for me. 

5. With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept, Season Three
Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us? That we now send our children into the world like we send young men into war, hoping for their safe return. But knowing that some will be lost along the way. When did we lose our way?  Consumed by the shadows, swallowed whole by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name?

4. How a Resurrection Really Feels, Season Three
There are 82 letters in here, and they’re all addressed to you. I wrote them all this summer. One a day, but I never sent them ‘cause I was afraid. I was afraid of getting my heart broken again, like before. Because you hurt me so bad and I was afraid to be vulnerable. And I was afraid of you and the way that you make me feel. And I know that doesn’t matter now after what I did, but I just thought that you should know. This was how I spent my summer Luke, wanting you. 

3. Some You Give Away, Season Four
You know, say what you will about the ravages of sports in this corporate age where overpaid athletes expect prima donna treatment, but there’s still something som unifying about sporting in it’s purest form, when athletes rise above themselves and touch greatness, and in doing so remind us all that we all have greatness inside of us. 

2. Over the Hills and Far Away, Season Three
Before we end the night I just want to say a few words about Nathan and Haley. I told them once, not too long ago to be happy because someday they’d make us all believe in true love. And, they do. In a few days they’re going to renew that love for all of us to see. But, in a way we see it every day. One rainy day Nathan Scott proposed to Haley James and the rest is a fairy tale.

1. The Tide That Left and Never Came Back
George Bernard Shaw once said, “There are two tragedies in life: one is to lose your heart’s desire, the other is to gain it.”  Clearly Shaw had his heart broken once or twice.

As far as I’m concerned, Shaw was a punk.  Because you know what? Tragedies happen. What are you going to do?  Give up? Quit? No. When your heart breaks, you have to fight like hell to make sure you’re still alive. Because you are and that pain you feel is life. The confusion and fear is there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better, and that something is worth fighting for. 

This year I got everything I ever wanted and everything I wished for. But in a way, I lost even more. 

As we strain to grasp the things we desire, the things we think will make our lives better: money, popularity, fame. We ignore what truly matters, the simple things like friendship, family, love. The things we probably already had. 

So, yes, losing your heart’s desire is tragic. But gaining your heart’s desire is all you can hope for. This year, I wished for love; to immerse myself in someone else and to wake a heart long afraid to feel.  My wish was granted. And if having that is tragic, then give me tragedy, because I wouldn’t give it back for the world.  

best of 09. part I

So here we are, another year is coming to a close. I have compiled lists of the best in television and film in 2009. And because I enjoyed making the list, I also have the worst films of 2009. Here’s how it goes: yes, my choices are biased, which is pretty easily identifiable. I know what I like, and I like what I know. For criteria it’s pretty basic: actual acting talent, the actors, and originality in storylines.

TELEVISION:

3. One Tree Hill : Compared to the epicness that was Seasons One-Six, this season of One Tree Hill has been a bit downgrade. No Lucas aka Chad Michael Murray. No Peyton, which at first I thought was a plus, but it seems she brought more to the program than I thought. That pains me to say. Season Seven got to a somewhat rocky start but now that we have been fully introduced to the new characters, its been steadily improving. What the series has always has going for it is spontaneity in storylines. From a psycho nanny on a killing spree to a medic-dog eating Dan Scott’s heart for transplant, One Tree Hill has never let me down in that department. I have always thought the acting level on OTH is great and Sophia Bush has become one of my favorite actresses.

2. So You Think You Can Dance : As a reality program, So You Think You Can Dance obviously has different criteria, but this ranking is honestly because of bias. I’m a dancer, I like watching dance. Season Five (5Alive) which aired during the summer, easily trumped the fall season, Season Six (Season Sick). Season Five had much better choreography, more memorable routines, and in my opinion, a higher caliber of dancers. The best thing about SYTYCD is that at the end of the season, it’s amazing to see how much the final dancers have grown, for a fellow dancer, it’s pretty inspiring. And because I need to reiterate this, in terms of the winners of the two seasons, Jeanine > Russell. Auditions for Season Seven begin in January 2010 and Season Six also goes on tour sometime in 2010.

1. Lost : I think I should get major props here for choosing Lost as my number 1, as it is not my absolute favorite program on television. But taking in account all of the criteria and actual quality of the programs, it really was no contest. Lost owns. I can think of no other series that has me so utterly confused that I need to scour Lostpedia after each episode to make sure I fully understand what was going on, and yet completely enjoy the episode at the same time. Usually large ensemble casts annoy me because I feel like we never get to connect enough with each character, but because of Lost’s clever flashback/flashforward/time continuum episode style, we are constantly being given more information about the characters, plus the acting is superb. Lost begins its sixth and final season on February 2, 2010, and more than anything, I am hoping that it gets the proper send-off the show deserves…and Jack/Kate to be endgame. Thanks.

Runner Up:

  • Friday Night Lights : Seriously one of the most underrated shows ever. Check it out, it’s awesome.

>> part II : films of 2009. coming soon.