Sep 24 2010

Getting Tired of TV

Published by at 1:00 pm under Editorials,Television

Last night was the inaugural evening of what my friends and I call “TV Thursday,” a night where there are so many good shows on, it dominates our plans for the night. Usually it consists of The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, shows we’ve been following since their inception.

Three of those shows came back last night, and rather than feel the thrill of anticipation for each new episode that I used to, I was decidedly more ambivalent. Yes, once upon a time, these were some of my favorite shows, but now 30 Rock and Always Sunny are on season five, The Office at an ancient season seven. And none of them really are that good any more.

Yes, I occasionally laugh and chuckle throughout each, but I literally used to be on the floor during some of these shows early episodes. And now? They merely amuse me at best, and at worst anger me at the degradation of quality at an exponential rate.

But honestly, I don’t think it’s their fault. It’s just by now, we’ve seen it all. Yes, there will always be new adventures for the characters to fall into, but at this point, we get it, we’ve been there and done that in terms of the characters themselves. The cast of TGS, the Dunder Mifflin crew, the Paddy’s Pub gang; after half a decade, we’ve kind of seen everything they have to offer. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Arrested Development was allowed to run for seven seasons, it probably would have gotten old as well.

Ricky Gervais has it right. Create a work of genius, pump out two seasons of classic episodes and a grand finale Christmas special, and move on to your next series. The original UK Office was twelve episodes and one special total. The US version is now pushing close to a hundred and fifty. Can we really blame the show for a dropoff in quality? Or should we blame the network for keeping it on life support until it shrivels up and becomes unrecognizable? In the case of The Office, it will be accelerated by Steve Carell leaving the show at the end of this year, and NBC will force the show to soldier on regardless.

It can be hard to let go of a good thing, and there’s only one show I know that was pure brilliance from start to finish. Seinfeld ran for almost a decade, and called it quits when it was number one in the ratings. Perhaps no show will ever replicate that model again, but it’s something to strive for, and those behind the show should know when to walk away.





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16 responses so far

  • jaromir

    wow, that’s funny, last night I was channel surfing thinking there was nothing good on television, I then went to the computer and began watching Venture Bros season 4 episodes 9 and 10.

  • Jbo

    I can’t stand the Office and 30 Rock is very ‘Meh’, but It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is still as funny as it ever was.

  • Bryan

    Any scripted/reality shows I do end of watching is usually through DVR. Mostly I watched baseball and football live. There are so few shows with a new idea, and if they do come up with something, it’s executed badly (looking at you, Flashforward. You let the book down). The Law & Orders are OK since they base it on real stories (roughly). Hell’s Kitchen is fun just to watch the chef scream at everybody. Plus, it seems like I can cook better than 1/2 of them (raw steak? Ugh).

    Anything new-ish seems to get buried. We liked Harper’s Island and Happy Town, and Town got cancelled after 3(!) episodes. Don’t get me started on Firefly.

    Thank Cthulhu for DVR, OnDemand, and Netflix streaming.

  • LowSlash

    The latest season of Futurama has been KILLING it. The first few episodes were a little shaky, but otherwise this season has included some of the best Futurama episodes ever. And I agree with jaromir, Venture Bros is still going strong. I have the latest episodes of Venture Bros. and 30 Rock downloaded and ready to watch tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited!

  • joe

    Well if you had watched Fringe last night instead of these shitty shows, you would have been in a better mood.

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    @jaromir

    Venture Bros. is solid. I didn’t realize it was back.

    @Jbo

    Always Sunny is veerying into lameness. Don’t think the whole marriage opening of the season was very god.

    @joe

    I tried season one of Fringe and got through the whole thing. It was fine, but I wasn’t compelled to keep watching. Too much like the X-Files, which I know everyone loves but I just couldn’t get into it.

  • Ben

    You need to watch Community. It’s the best comedy on tv right now imo.

  • Henrik

    Community is my new favorite comedy show too. It’s brilliant. Everyone needs to give it a chance now and not discover it on dvd when it’s cancelled like Arrested Development.

    Anyway, the first episode of season 7 of The Office has to be the worst episode of the show so far. I diddnt laugh once in it. Even in the worst episodes i previous seasons i still got one or two good laught out of it. If the next episode is just as bad im done with The Office. A shows that used to be in my top 5 favorite shows…

  • Sean

    It all depends on the show. I could see something like Eastbound and Down last for seven seasons. Only as long as it’s giving us around 6-8 episodes a season and creating fresh stories.
    Community is my new favourite comedy (along with Eastbound) but i can only see it lasting another two seasons (thats excluding it’s current second season).
    And as for the Seinfeld being funny from start to finish, i have to stop you there. Seinfeld was terrible at first. It took the faith of the network to give the show another round and more episodes. Then the show formed into something beautiful. But, in my opinion, the show was amazing season three to season seven. After Larry left, the show had some funny still in it, but not quite the same.
    The only show to be funny start to finish, MASH.

  • Mitch

    I gotta disagree here. I think the first episode of 30 rock was actually funny from start to finish. Pube Shirt? I mean come on lol.

    As for Its Always, I’ll agree that the first episode had me worried, but the second episode ended it brilliantly and had me howling at the end of it.

    Guess it’s all just opinion

  • http://www.kil-Lpaultassi.com Sean

    “TV Thursday”? That’s hilariously stupid.

    The proper name is called “Must See TV,” especially when one speaks of shows such as “The Office”, “30 Rock”, “Parks and Recreation.”

    Damn, were you born after that slogan faded away? You don’t sound like you know much about TV pre-2000. Have you even seen Seinfeld, pilot-to-finale (…because you don’t sound like it. I think you just skimmed through few Wiki entries and b.s. this whole article.)?

    Hopefully, you have a lucrative, six-figure day job lined up or have a rich, elderly boyfriend because you totally SUCK at this gig where you are trying like HELL to sound like you know what you are talking about TV shows and sound all clever and $#!t, but it’s altogether god damn pathetic because your articles are so run-of-the-mill yet reek of “I know numbers 1 through 10″ arrogance…yes, the reek is intoxicating! (And, yes, THAT’s kinda fascinating.) Otherwise, please stop embarrassing yourself ASAP and just feed yourself a bullet tonight.

  • JohnC

    I’ll start by saying that your occupation very well might have to do with this; when dealing with the internet (and especially working for an online mag), people feel a bit more entitled to immediacy and the bottom line.
    On top of that, you work on strict deadlines. This could affect your perspective on games, movies, tv shows, etc. since you have to wade through a miasma of information.
    I’d imagine that you would be more desensitized to it all than the average joe.

    I will say that Fred Savage has alot to do with Sunny’s best episodes. He was heavily involved in Season 4, which I consider the peak point of the show.
    They reached a plateau in Season 5, and again, he directed a handful of episodes there.

    I’ve only watched season 6 premiere, but I do feel that the marriage ordeal was kinda tame.
    The 1st episode of each season has been explosion. This one felt like a transition episode instead of a grand opening like the previous seasons.
    What I really liked were the inside jokes. Mac telling Dee that he would rather take a shotgun blast to the face than marry her was priceless.

    Ricky Gervais, however, is horrible. His atheist tirades (the Invention of Lying, his stand-up) and his self-obsession (everything else he does) preclude anything noteworthy that he has done.
    Which I’m forgetting what that was…

  • Bryan

    @joe- Yes, I do like Fringe. It changed days or something and I missed a whole bunch of episodes, so I got lost. I’ll have to see if it’s OnDemand.

    @Sean- Wow. Someone gives their opinion and you freak out this badly? I didn’t realize you were paying for the content. You should surely demand your money back. You should also let us know where to go so we can read your literary awesomeness.

    This is the reason I don’t publish my site to the public. Too many 12 year-olds.

  • Matt Chi

    lol @ Sean.

    Probably a pissed off mall worker who got offended when someone didn’t enjoy the orange julius he served them. I love people who try to go on rants to make someone else look bad, and end up unintentionally revealing their inner-douchebaggery.

    I actually had the exact same sentiments with Thursday’s lineup. Nothing felt very fresh. I was amused and smiled throughout. But didn’t find anything quite laugh-out-loud funny.

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  • Neptuny

    Why do you Unreality folks refuse ‘Community”s coquettish invitation? >_<

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