Seven things I learned from the 2006-07 television season
Welcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.
With the 2006-07 season now just a fading memory in our short attention-span universe, it's a good time to sit back and reflect on what came to pass. The beginning of it was full of excitement and promise. The end of the season was pretty much the same as others before it: some good (and not-so-good) stuff survived, the bad stuff didn't, and stuff that we thought was good went down in flames fairly quickly. There were some surprises in the freshmen class and some resurgences in older fare. In the meanwhile, American Idol remained the show killer.
With all of that in mind, let me list the seven biggest things I learned from this past season.
1. Don't believe the hype -- Remember the upfronts from last season? My Lord, were they full of promise! So much so that television viewers and critics alike were all abuzz about the great things that were coming down the pike for 2006-07. It was almost like the networks were touting the season like it was going to be the best one ever. Well, that balloon deflated very quickly, didn't it? No wonder the networks played it down so much at this year's upfronts.
2. There was just too much serial in the television bowl -- I mentioned this back in September, but no one wanted to believe me: there were just too many serialized shows on the fall schedule to survive. The normal television viewers just couldn't keep track of them all. Because of this a lot of good serialized shows, like The Nine and Kidnapped, went out the door with the bad ones, like Six Degrees and Vanished. It seems the networks smartened up this season and presented schedules with little or no new serialized shows.
3. Arron Sorkin has a big head -- All right, we all knew this already, but it seemed to grow even bigger this season. And, as a result, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip will not be returning to the NBC schedule next season. It's too bad, because I did enjoy many of the characters on the show, in particular Matt Perry's character of Matt Albie. While we're on the subject of Studio 60 . . .
4. One actor/actress can really kill a show -- Two words: Harriet Hayes. If there is any one character people can collectively dislike it's her. Every time she was on the screen in Studio 60 the show just stopped being interesting. How could anyone believe that Matt and Harriet ever had a relationship? Sorkin wrote them as two star-crossed lovers, but I don't think anyone bought it.
5. Root for the underdog -- Friday Night Lights, Jericho, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Men in Trees, Brothers & Sisters. They were all promoted during the upfronts, but not as much as all of the serialized shows that were introduced. While shows like Vanished and The Nine struggled in the ratings the six mentioned above grew in popularity. Hell, Heroes became a HUGE success and Jericho became a fan favorite (so much so that the fans got the show renewed).
6. If you cancel a show, keep it canceled (unless it's Jericho) -- When 7th Heaven ended its 10-year run on the WB at the end of the 2005-06 season people were a bit shocked but realized that the program had run its course. Then, The CW decided to resurrect it. The result: a show that none of the fans recognized. Most of the original cast was gone, the budget was cut, and Eric Camden was given an incurable heart disease. Then, the network canceled the show again, leaving us with an extremely unsatisfying series finale. Please, don't do us any favors anymore. If a show has run its course and is canceled don't bring it back again just so you can eke some additional money out of it (can't tell I'm bitter, can you?).
7. The sitcom may be dead, but the prime-time game show isn't -- People have said many times in television's history that the sitcom was dead, only for it to come back to life with a bit hit like The Cosby Show or Friends. Well, after this past season, I think we can really say that the traditional sitcom is on its last legs. Other than FOX's Til' Death (which had the star power of Brad Garrett behind it) the sitcoms of the 2006-07 season where downright poor, and 2007-08 doesn't look much brighter. On the other hand, the prime-time game show is coming back after we thought it had died in the early part of this century. Give that credit to shows like Deal or No Deal, 1 vs. 100 and the very popular Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader (which I actually like). The new season will see even more prime-time game shows on the schedule.