As every worthwhile show is now on winter break, it got me thinking about the fate of programs that I’ve been watching for the better part of a decade now. There are a ton that are either ending or about to end, with their final seasons currently airing or the next one to come.
Don’t believe me? This is the list I’ve assembled, and these are just shows that I watch religiously. I’m sure there are quite a few more that don’t appear here. How I Met Your Mother, for example, might not be my cup of tea, but I believe it’s ninth season next year will be its last. But here’s my list:
Sons of Anarchy – Final season next year
Breaking Bad – Second half of final season next year
The Office – Final season airing
30 Rock – Final season airing
Spartacus – Final season next year
Dexter – Final season next year
“Welp, time to wrap this up! (no pun intended)”
There are all shows that I’ve been watching anywhere from 4 to 10 years. Yes, long running shows I’ve watched before in the past have ended, from Lost to The Sopranos to 24 to Smallville, but I can’t remember when so many big shows were closing their curtains this close to each other.
So, the question becomes do we have enough fresh blood to replace them? I’m not so sure. A lot of these are THE big defining shows for their channel these days. I would count SOA, Dexter and Spartacus at the very least the most important shows on their respective channels.
First, we should turn to look at shows which will surely make it to this “long-running epic” category we see here. Shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are just now ramping up, and with massive ratings and borderline infinite source material, it’s easy to see them sticking around for years to come. On cable, we have Mad Men, which seems like it’s going to last forever, and also Justified on FX which has staying power. Homeland is only in season two, but it’s been picked up for a bunch more and looks to replace Dexter as Showtime’s must-see program. For comedies there’s still Parks and Recreation on TV Thursdays, and Modern Family is of course a powerhouse now. I would argue New Girl and Happy Endings seem like they could become true comedy classics a few seasons from now.
Say what you will, but three of these four are some of the best comedic characters on TV right now. Except you, Winston.
The problem is that all of these shows, both the ones that are ending and those I’ve just mentioned that have the potential to “go the distance,” have always been on at the same time, at least for the past few years. But when this entire crop of shows goes off the air, what can we look for to replace it?
In terms of brand new shows that aired this year, there’s almost nothing from the crop that looks like it’s going to be our next classic. Sure, it can be hard to tell from season one, but season one is where many shows have blown us away in the past. Look at Lost for the prime example of how that can work (and look at how many Lost-type shows have failed in the years since). But when the most praised show of the year is the fairly mediocre Arrow on the CW, you might have issues. Top rated “buzzed about” shows like Revolution are unspeakably terrible to anyone with eyes and ears, and ones that could have been promising like Last Resort have already been canceled.
Maybe this was just a rough year for new shows, but it’s gotten me the slightest bit worried about what the future holds. The shows I’ve mentioned as being good in their second, third or fourth season are fantastic, but there needs to be something new and riveting that simply wasn’t there this season.
Not exactly the hero we deserve.
What do we need? Well, with all these shows ending, their casts and crews and creators can move on to other ventures, which hopefully will be equally amazing shows. Network TV seems almost incapable of producing quality new dramas at this point, and cable is constantly battling high costs and a constantly shifting medium as TV battles the internet.
What new show would you be looking for? Is there a book or film or reboot you think would make a good series? What sort of original creation would you like to see? I’m still stuck on my idea of an HBO Mass Effect series, though I’d take any cable or pay channel showing some love to the sci-fi genre in any form. And I don’t mean another Battlestar spin-off from Syfy.
What about you?