Off Topic Messages

TV Shows: Good-2-worse / Bad-2-better

Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:17 pm

ever notice how some tv shows start out great but later seasons suck

(Andy Griffith/Beverly Hillbillies/Bewitched)

but -

some shows start out sucking but get better

(Night Court/



Just a couch potato observation.

Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:29 pm

Yes.


Tom

Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:44 am

Seinfeld was a show that fit this scenario. It started out, once it got to a full season, brilliantly and continued to get better. Around the fifth season it hit a slump. There were still fine episodes but there was a large share of dogs. I remember in particular a staggeringly bad episode where George develops a non-sexual crush on Dan Cortese and Jerry dates Jami Gertz who is also a phone sex operator. Then in the sixth season, it rebounded with one of the best seasons in TV history. This was the season that gave us the marble rye and the soup nazi among others. It kind of peaked here and for the rest of the way it was still an innovative show but it got away from its everyday observations and delved more into cartoonish hijinks.

The Odd Couple on the other hand was a show that got consistently better as it went on. In the first season, it was a largely subdued and conventional sitcom. In the second season, they pared down the cast to focus almost exclusively on Jack Klugman and Tony Randall and their characterizations of Felix and Oscar. Al Molinaro from the first season was kept for extra comic relief. The tone of the show changed with a move towards broader comedy and sharper comedy and it became arguably the most consistently funny and best acted sitcom in television history completing outstripping its source material. If you watch the television series you'll never look at Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon the same again. They're great actors and funny in the parts but Klugman and Randall took the roles so much farther.

Re: TV Shows: Good-2-worse / Bad-2-better

Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:04 pm

Happy Days - now there - the 1st 3 seasons are beautiful.
Vintage authenticity.
1974-1976 are great seasons

but later..... those Chachi/New Arnolds years. yuk.


Night Court is one imo that started off so-so bland
yet got better and more comical and colorful after adding Markie Post, and Roz, and Art the Handyman, and Dan became a horny letch with Phil as his bum-aid.

the 1st couple seasons aren't a priority at all for owning on dvd.
But the last 2 or 3 seasons - yeh, laughs galore.


Bewitched is a true tv classic for the first 3 seasons at least.
1964-1967

But later seasons are boring and so excruciatingly redundant.

Endora puts a spell on Durwood/Oh no! A client is coming over/the magical mishap is explained as an ad campaign idea/great idea! Client loves it/spell lifted.

every friggin' episode was the same damn thing.

Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:44 am

"Bewitched" did get tired in its later seasons and Dick Sargent never had the energy of Dick York in the role of Darrin. York's wild reactions were what made Samantha and her mother's spells so memorable. Sargent also never had the same chemistry with Elizabeth Montgomery.

I always found "Night Court" to be a hit or miss show for most of its run. It would either kill me or make me cringe. My favorite moment: Harry sentences a guy to one day in jail and the guy's wife goes "I'll wait for you."

"Happy Days" was always a problematic show for me. The early years did a decent, albeit self-conscious- job of capturing the '50s and the mores of the era. However, the show was too subdued and seldom truly funny. Than it got a charge of energy when the Fonzie character moved to the center particularly the season where he moved in with the Cunninghams. His character, the only real original on the show, had a hilariously pervers view of the world and code of ethics. The show was broader and funnier. My favorite moment was when Fonzie was explaining how he couldn't run away from a challenge just like Gary Cooper in "High Noon." Fonzie talks about how Grace Kelly tried to hold Cooper back by asking him to run away. "He should belted her." Then a few minutes later Mr. C goes "How can you reason with a man who would punch Grace Kelly?"

That didn't last long because the producers of the show elected to move Fonzie from cool but quirky into a conventional near super-hero. The writing, direction and editing on the show became sloppier at this time. Actors paused to accept applause when they entered a scene. (Most shows prohibit applause now.) Any attention to period detail was abandoned and many of the jokes were grade school hubba double entendres. Message shows crept in and actors postured while making silly speeches.

When the cast changed and the focus shifted to the boring young couple Joni and Chachi, the show became one of the absolute worst on TV.

In its final season plus though the show experienced a minor comeback with several seriously themed shows that addressed the difficulties of accepting change and the inevitability of it. It wasn't what you'd call great drama but it was touching in its own way.

For some weird reason this show has played a significant part of my life. It seemed like there were so many moments in my life where an episode of this show was playing in the background. Even though my head tells me it's not a great show, it's like a member of the family.

Fri Aug 26, 2005 10:01 am

Hey, guys... Can I mention "Melrose Place" as a TV show that went from half-bad to essential? No? Okay. Sorry. :oops:

Keith Richards, Jr.

Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:29 pm

likethebike wrote:"Bewitched" did get tired in its later seasons and Dick Sargent never had the energy of Dick York in the role of Darrin. York's wild reactions were what made Samantha and her mother's spells so memorable. Sargent also never had the same chemistry with Elizabeth Montgomery.

I always found "Night Court" to be a hit or miss show for most of its run. It would either kill me or make me cringe. My favorite moment: Harry sentences a guy to one day in jail and the guy's wife goes "I'll wait for you."

"Happy Days" was always a problematic show for me. The early years did a decent, albeit self-conscious- job of capturing the '50s and the mores of the era. However, the show was too subdued and seldom truly funny. Than it got a charge of energy when the Fonzie character moved to the center particularly the season where he moved in with the Cunninghams. His character, the only real original on the show, had a hilariously pervers view of the world and code of ethics. The show was broader and funnier. My favorite moment was when Fonzie was explaining how he couldn't run away from a challenge just like Gary Cooper in "High Noon." Fonzie talks about how Grace Kelly tried to hold Cooper back by asking him to run away. "He should belted her." Then a few minutes later Mr. C goes "How can you reason with a man who would punch Grace Kelly?"

That didn't last long because the producers of the show elected to move Fonzie from cool but quirky into a conventional near super-hero. The writing, direction and editing on the show became sloppier at this time. Actors paused to accept applause when they entered a scene. (Most shows prohibit applause now.) Any attention to period detail was abandoned and many of the jokes were grade school hubba double entendres. Message shows crept in and actors postured while making silly speeches.

When the cast changed and the focus shifted to the boring young couple Joni and Chachi, the show became one of the absolute worst on TV.

In its final season plus though the show experienced a minor comeback with several seriously themed shows that addressed the difficulties of accepting change and the inevitability of it. It wasn't what you'd call great drama but it was touching in its own way.

For some weird reason this show has played a significant part of my life. It seemed like there were so many moments in my life where an episode of this show was playing in the background. Even though my head tells me it's not a great show, it's like a member of the family.


Does anybody ever notice that in a sitcom when the audience applauds when somebody appears, it's on it's way downhill. I loved Happy days at first, it did an excellent job reminding people about the youth and innocence of the fifties. Joannie and Chachi, awful at best.

Fri Aug 26, 2005 4:17 pm

I believe it's called "Jumping The Shark."

Fri Aug 26, 2005 5:20 pm

http://jumptheshark.com/

Fri Aug 26, 2005 6:00 pm

Happy Days (at its best) was what its creator wanted it to be:

"Recess."

Gary Marshall went on to explain: "Other tv shows at the time were doing messages to teach viewers. Teach about divorce, abortion, civil rights, poverty, war, bigotry, ghetto families, etc. Those shows were designed to teach a lesson.
Happy Days was recess."

good move.

Plus nearly every young cast member of that show turned out well-adjusted.
Marshall had a basketball court put on the set to give those kids a way to spend their free time athletically rather than doing drugs - which would be easy to go do when you're earning $5,000 a week and it's the 70s!"

Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:31 pm

Pity that Erin Moran didn't spend more time practicing her dribbling.

Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:32 pm

or her acting.

Tom

Sat Aug 27, 2005 3:12 am

One show that improved dramatically in quality is Black Adder (or The Black Adder, depending on the season), starring Rowan Atkinson.

The first season was entertaining, but the title character was often simply too strange to truly bond with or make a real connection to. The character of the King, who held the role in the first season as the dim-witted person who had more power and wealth than Blackadder himself (a character found throughout the dynasty), was rarely truly funny, and his advisor was more of a straight man than anything else. Even Baldrick, who would continually be known as the dumbest of the trio, was uncharacteristically clever in the first season.

The changes in the writing that had taken place between the first and second season were immediately felt from the very moment the latter started. The writing was almost like a completely different show, which was fortunately sustained for the remaining three seasons. The writing, which now came from Ben Elton and Richard Curtis instead of Curtis and Atkinson, was now more elaborate and sophisticated, and sharper than a really sharp, pointy thing.

The characters were now far more memorable, too. The new team created many memorable characters like Bob (“…strange name for a girl.”), Nursie (“…a sad, insane old woman with an udder-fixation”), Lord Percy, Melchett, Queenie, and the evil Prince Ludwig (“Yes! I was the waitress!”) – and that was just in the second season!

Season Three was arguably even better than the second, and the Fourth was the best of them all. Who can ever forget Lord Flashheart (“Like the beard! Gives me something to hang on to!”), or the Captain Darling-General Melchett pairing.

The Elton and Curtis team also managed to create a moment (in the final episode) that only a few television shows, M*A*S*H among them, managed to achieve: a truly emotional moment that draws the viewer in completely, as Blackadder and the boys “go over the top” near the end of the First World War.

Based on the first season alone, I wouldn’t call Blackadder a great show, but the improvements that took place over time placed it instantly in the Classic category, and it became one of the best shows ever broadcast on television.

“We’ve been sitting here since Christmas 1914, during which time millions of men have died, and we’ve moved no further than an asthmatic ant with a lot of shopping.”

Brilliant.