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- 1Finally bringing together two camps that the world feared would pair at some point, Smallville finally united comic book fans and teen drama fans through their viewing habits to tell the story of a young Superman and his friends back in 2001.
Nine years later the show is still going, somehow (shouldn't it just be called Metropolis now?), but most viewers have moved on to greener Kryptonite.
Why It Worked:
While initially the show was a fresh enough idea, and we also had some players we love. We had Lex Luthor before he was evil, which actually complemented the comic book character in some ways; we had Clark Kent being himself and dealing with the fact that he's an outsider, something he comes to accept later on; and we had Lana Lang, a love of Superman that everyone wanted to know more about (at first...).
How It Failed:
It later became more and more apparent that the show had stopped moving forward, and was now jacking off with its own storylines, which became more ridiculous as the show went on. It seems that after a while they had nothing left other than showy gimmicks, (apparently) pointless melodrama and recycled Superman storylines.
Let us say that again: recycled SUPERMAN storylines... meaning that this show, in of itself, makes absolutely no sense.
As in the beginning it tried to at least LOOSELY stay faithful to the source material, but as the show went on they realized that they needed freshness to keep the show alive... the solution? Superman storylines.
Innocent Child: "But I thought the show as about Clark Kent BEFORE he became Superman"
The CW: "F**k your dream$, child! We have a $uperman to deliver!"
It’s been nine years and he still can’t fly, it’s not going to happen. They've been through a Zod storyline, as well as the infamous Doomsday story. Aren't those previously-unheard-of dangers supposed to be two of Superman's greatest/deadliest enemies? If he defeated them as a teenager (who can't even fly yet), he'll have no trouble in the f*ture.
In the words of the horrible, horrible band who play the pseudo-U2 (cheesiest choice in the history of TV) intro song, the fans let out one huge sentence and the network finally heard:
Somebody save me.
(Video of the full song included!)
- 2Why It Worked:
Scrubs was one of the first successful one-camera sitcoms that stuck around for a long time despite other great, non-laughtrack shows like it falling down around it all over the place (Arrested Development, Malcolm In The Middle). It had some great daydream sequences, a slew of lovable characters, some great performances and a pace that kept you interested.
How It Failed:
One-trick pony. After Season 5 it was the same back and forth. Will JD and Elliot end up together?... At that point, they'd done such a Ross/Rachel dance that who really cared? The same characters were falling into the same patterns and did what they did best until it made every one sick... then, like the stories in the show, the show ended. Then it didn't. Then it did. Then it didn't and then we got a new show "Med School", which answered the following question...
Q: What kills a show quicker than getting rid of familiar characters?
A: Replacing them with new ones that are just shallow clones.
It didn’t work for ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’, so who was dumb enough to think it would work for ‘Scrubs: Med School’? It was a pretty poor effort from a show that had supposedly called it quits twice already, but why not come back for round three and secure yourself in the halls of failure?
ABC: "Why not, kids? Why not?"
- 3Old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.
Why It Worked:
The Simpsons has always been a powerhouse. Starting on the Tracey Ulman show, and working its way up the charts with its pure charm, wit and revolutionary humor, the Simpsons took from stand-up comedians, the best TV shows and the minds of up-and-coming geniuses to create a whole generation of Simpsons fans. With more memorable quotes than any show in the history of television and more loyal fans that we can even count, The Simpsons is arguably one of the most influential shows ever made.
How It Failed:
You know how we just said that The Simpsons inspired a whole generation? Well, that's kind of the problem. After about 10-12 SOLID seasons, people who grew up on The Simpsons actually started writing for the show. The show grew a life of itself and just started taking from anything it could get... including itself. It started relying on just what South Park made of fun Family Guy for: pop culture references instead of jokes. Satire turned into spoof, turned into lampoon and the real base of the show, the core died with the lack of creativity that's plastered onto some of our favorite characters week after week.
(See video example)
For more than a few seasons now, we’ve had to deal with recycled plots, lame gags and more than enough clip shows to fill an entire stadium. All of this and more have left even the most die-hard fans teetering on the verge of giving up our weekly Springfield visits.
Everyone thought the 2007 movie was the obvious way to end it all on a high(ish) note, but at this point it seems the only possible end point will be when one or more of the principle cast dies or loses their voice.
Don't get us wrong, nobody loves The Simpsons more, but how sad is it that our once go-to choice for "Favorite Show" on ANY list isn't going to go out with a bang, but with a flicker?
- 4Why It Worked:
No one will argue that ‘Law & Order’ was a behemoth of a show. The key word here, though, is "was". It helped solidify and create arguably the most popular genre of television: the procedural show. This wasn't a show you needed to watch regularly, you can just hop in with the criminal of the week and never watch it for a year, then hop right back in. This is why it ran for as long as it did.
How It Failed:
After 20 years, and God knows how many variations (that are still around), the show was old and tired (much like most of the viewers who were still on their original hips and knees when the show started). The "procedure" of the procedural show has been copied and re-copied and re-re-copied so many times, that it's hard to tell all these shows apart most of the time.
It was recently announced that season 20 will be the last of the series, meaning that there will no longer be any Law & Order on television...
... Except for Law & Order SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the recently added Law & Order: Los Angeles, and the soon-to-be Kids' favorite Law & Order: Elementary School Crossing Guards.*
* We'd probably at least watch this one a few times if it existed... sadly all the other ones aren't a joke.
- 5Why It Worked:
The first season of Heroes was nothing short of an amazing accomplishment in television (except for maybe the end, but still).
Superhero movies were on the rise, comic book movies were (and still are) being optioned left and right, and the world was finally ready for a serious superhero show. Real people. With POWERS! Flying on the small screen, saving lives and showing us all what we've always loved about fantasy.
We had hot chicks, the everyman, people with identity issues and even comic book geeks getting powers in this show. It was built to last... right?...
How It Failed:
Wrong. The only problem with this dream show was that the show creator never planned to continue it beyond his initial run, but everyone’s soul has a barcode so the show went on.
Then, while riding high, the second season was tragically f**ked over by the WGA strike, which was a major let down for viewers and anyone involved with the series. Even writers/producers of the show say they weren't happy with the second season -- nobody was.
When it finally returned to NBC, the show began to resemble that great uncle of yours who had a major stroke; it looked more or less the same, but its functionality and coherence wasn’t quite what it used to be. They began to recycle stories and plots, causing a large chunk of their viewers to vanish much like Hayden Panettiere’s clothing in that one fantasy you have at night.
It also made the huge mistake of turning back the clock on everything the characters accomplished from a character standpoint in the first season, which is why everybody loved it. They kind of knocked over their own sand castle.
NBC has recently told the show to pack it up and head off to the fortress of cancellation, but this is something the fans had seen coming, and had been hoping for, for a while after three follow-up seasons filled almost exclusively with FAIL.
- 6Why It Worked:
Remember James Van Derbeek? Well, so did a whole generation of once-teenage girls. That same old formula of hot girls, affected, complicated guys who have the weight of the (high school) world on their shoulders, and a generous dose of melodrama struck again with 'One Tree Hill'.
How It Failed:
The wannabe ‘Dawson’s Creek’ actually did pretty well, as the more "vanilla" version. That is, until the writers all stopped taking their Ritalin, got bored, and decided to write down whatever seemed to be a good idea at the time.
Here’s a hint: your show has pretty much hit rock bottom when Joel McHale has featured multiple clips of your most tender, heart-wrenching moments on ‘The Soup’.
It CONTINUES to fail, because not much has changed and it (critically) has not gotten any better.
Good news, though, much like the (inexplicably popular) Two And A Half Men (which we're not even TOUCHING on this list, as its numbers show that apparently MILLIONS of people love it), it has been renewed for yet another underwhelming season.
- 7Why It Worked:
"Hell yeah. A whole show about breaking someone out of prison? And we're rooting for BOTH the escapee AND the guy getting him out? America's on board!"
How It Failed:
"Wait, he's out of prison and they're still... but... I..."
When you name a show, the general rule is to draw people in, while at the same time laying out the overall concept for everyone to enjoy. You'll most likely run into problems when the show no longer resembles what you started with.
The show ‘Prison Break’ made this blunder when the main characters "broke" from "prison", and then had no idea where to go (much like the writers). Instead of taking the easy way out like Brooks from ‘Shawshank Redemption’, they dicked around with one half-assed plot after another until someone got the genius idea to send everyone back to prison to break out once more.
"What does this script say the name of the show is?... Oooooh! Okay, yeah, let's break 'em out (again)!"
Hey, if you can’t come up with something new, just retread those old tires and head down the road most traveled. Shortly after, ‘Prison Break’ received a death sentence.
- 8Why It Worked:
The first season of Jack Bauers worst day ever was an insane hit, winning people over with the intrigue along with the minute by minute storytelling format. The show was on fire, it was something NEW and it did well for a while fueled by its writers' creativity and its audience's adrenaline deficiency.
How It Failed:
Eventually, though, the questions started to pile up against it:
- "How many bad days can this f**king guy have?"
- "Why can no one else possibly handle this terror plot other than Jack Bauer? Is our justice system THAT bad?"
- "When have these people ever had time to take a 15 minute break for a much needed s**t?"
When ratings began to noticeably sag during its most recent season, FOX made the tough call to cut the show, but dont worry loyal Bauer fans, there is apparently a movie on the way.
This show could have ended about a few seasons earlier, wrapped up its storylines a little quicker and spared us all the long, drawn-out plans of people trying to kill Jack Bauer and hinder on our "freedom".