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October 13, 2015

Seven things I learned from the 2006-07 television season

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 8th 2007 12:01PM

Heroes, the surprise hit of the 2006-07 seasonWelcome 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.

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CONGRATS TO STUDIO 60! Banff winner for best drama!


Hopefully the episodes airing now will get nominations next year! It's great to see the wonderful work of Sorkin, cast, crew, Shoe Money and Warner Bros. recognized.

June 13 2007 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe in LA

So, will we ever find out what happened in there on The Nine? I know it is not coming back for real, but in the other cases of serials that were cancelled, they were either available online or were burned off during non-sweeps/off nights/etc. ABC seems to be the worst of the networks in this regard. Can't they at least send out a half-page note about what the big mystery was?

Does anyone have any answer at all as to if there will be any unused episodes aired (e.g., ABC Family cable network at 3 in the morning) or at least a press release to fans???

June 11 2007 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did you even watch 7th Heaven? It was about half way into the run that they started replacing characters, not the last season. Fans weren't shocked to see it get cancelled, either. There was tons of talk on message boards for the last three or four years wondering when they were finally going to put the show out of its misery. The issue was that the finale was hyped so much, a (lame) final episode aired, and THEN it was brought back from the dead. Yes, the last season had new random characters, too, but they were brought in as a way to spend less on salaries, so that the more veteran random replacements (i.e., Haylie Duff, the baseball player dude) were used in fewer episodes.

June 09 2007 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Completely agree with 3 and 4. The Blonde Bitch destroyed the show, she can not act. They shoul have waited until Gilmore Girls ended.

June 08 2007 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lesson #1:The only reason for televison upfronts is to get advertisers isn't it? Of course they will be overhyped.

Lesson #2:It worked for LOST so lets copy it!! (there is little original thinking in network television which is why really good edgy shows are on cable.

Lesson #3:Studio 60 could have worked without all the goverment/war/america bashing and contained some comedy.

Lesson #4: Don't agree. The writing/bashing and horrible plots killed studio 60 not her.

Lesson #5:Heroes was the only one I watched, and ABC may have killed Men by moving some of this years episodes to next year.

Lesson #6: You should have learned this years ago with Magnum P.I.

Lesson #7:And how can you call Deal or No Deal a game show? Where exactly is the game? Every single DnDeal is exactly the same. I don't get it. And the way NBC is overusing and promoting it, it will be come the next millionaire and die.

David you write "compelling characters and good story writing" and list FRIENDS first?!?!?!? Good point, bad choice.

June 08 2007 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How I Met Your Mother is the best sitcom on TV right now (well, if we're not counting The Office as a sitcom).

June 08 2007 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OK, I'll pile on.

You're dead wrong on #4 too.

I believe STUDIO 60 was rejected because Sorkin couldn't hide his deep dislike for his audience. His loathing of average Americans was palpable and turned off viewers much more quickly than anything Ms. Hayes could accomplish on her own.

Sorkin is a self-important elitist twit, who happens to be able to write incredible dialog. It's a shame he can't keep his personal politics out of his characters. This show could have been something. Instead it became a weekly rant about idiots in Little Rock and Pine Bluff, Arkansas (The Cold Open), or Columbus, Ohio (The Wrap Party) or whatever mid-sized city in flyover country Sorkin was holding a grudge against that week.

Piling off now.

June 08 2007 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On #2, yes there were. But there are only two successful serial dramas on Network TV right now. Neither of which was promoted as a serial drama. You should know what I'm talking about, but if you don't the shows are LOST and Heroes.

June 08 2007 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

(1) The sitcom is not dead. American viewers have always watched sitcoms with compelling characters and good story writing. Friends, The Cosby Show, All in the Family, etc. are generational shows - once a decade shows. 2007 just didn't find one. Next year might, or the year after that might. But the sitcom is not dead.

(2) You're making way too much of the upfronts. It's the same thing every season: programming execs market the shows they think are the smartest or likely to be the most popular, inevitably get it wrong, and "the underdog" becomes the "breakout hit". This is exemplar of why the popular media press are so poor at their jobs. They pre-judge based on network executives' marketing, rather than writing objective pieces about what we're going to see and holding back on the predictions until mid-season.

June 08 2007 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Add me in as a fan of this year's "30 Rock." Although, if you're talking about this sitcom season over all, then I'd have to agree with you. To have only one new sitcom be any good is pretty grim.

June 08 2007 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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