TV is Falling

As TV returns to its new spring schedule, The Fourcast accesses the last fall season.

Don’t get me wrong. We live in a golden age where there’s entirely way too much great TV. But when you line up the sit-coms and shove the dramas all into one room, there’s clearly a divide between those shows that lag behind and those that streak to the finish line. And that’s where the truth lies.

A movie last year, “Now You See Me” said, “All good things must come to an end.” Yet, according to TV, “all good things should come to an end” … eventually.

I’m not saying that you should leave it with the audience still yelling at their screens in confusion, a la “Lost” and “Breaking Bad”.

And I’m not saying that they need a cop-out ending that makes me want to throw the entire last season in the trash, like “Gossip Girl”.

I’m saying writers need to move on.

And some already have.

“Grey’s Anatomy” was ‘worth it’ from Seasons 1-6. The magic of well, MAGIC (Meredith, Alex, George, Izzie, Christina) was the core of the show, no matter all the drama.

The pilot is what sets the tone for any show. And once the show has strayed so far from the pilot you have to check the guide to see what you’re watching, then it’s time for the characters to take their last bows, switch off the lights and move on.

Like Shonda Rimes has transitioned from “Grey’s” to “Scandal,” giving the drama what “Grey’s” has been missing since Season 6.

The “Lost” creators, Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis moved on after the dynastic thriller ended, to fairytales with “Once,” taking darkness to a new level, while still doing the plotlines in a classical form They stay above the fray of patheticness, though they tend to go on the cheesy side.

How can you not when you’re talking about fairy tales?

Yet some writers are clinging to things that can no longer be saved, like “The Vampire Diaries”. Combined with Julie Plec’s half-hearted attempt in a spin-off with “The Originals,” the show has really devolved.

However, this fall season, a handful of new shows premiered. Old shows also returned, with fresher tactics, newer ideas and better characters than ever before.

 The Replacements:

I’m a HUGE fan of ‘weird’ TV. No longer am I really sure how to describe shows like “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural,” “Teen Wolf” and “Grimm,” forcing to dub them all as weird rather than give some of them the credit they deserve.

Some don’t deserve it, earning a bad rep because of puke-tastic love triangles and plagiarism from predecessors. But come on, it’s entertainment. Everyone ‘borrows’ a bit.

Several new shows, in my opinion, have borrowed from genre pioneers, adding their own twists. Many can argue that fan phenomenon of “Doctor Who,” “Supernatural” and “Sherlock” will always be original, but with all the long-runners dragging, the last of which having a TWO YEAR HIATUS, others had the time to create their own better scenarios.

“Almost Human,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Elementary” are definitely plays off of this older trifecta. You have a future-tech show, a magic/demon thriller and a police procedural show starring basically one man. Yet, these three take it to another level with the depth they give to their characters, things that were definitely achieved extremely late in the earlier series. The ideas are also much edgier for the new age of television, in which audiences have less of an attention span and live for the next plot twist.

The Failures:

After the success of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and the subsequent success of it’s spin-off, “Angel,” writers have continued to try and fail to squeeze the last amount of money out of a story with spinoffs.

Two spinoffs aired this season, both of them lackluster and direct copies of everything we’ve seen before.

The pilot for “The Originals,” “The Vampire Diaries” spinoff, aired last spring, in episode 20 of the parent show, I felt as though I was seeing a poorly written “Angel”. The bad boy, the power struggle, all that was fine.

The problem was the same one that made me dislike “Angel”. (And “Twilight”). Children really have no place in a supernatural world, turning once-dark characters into fluffy people who would fit better in a sit-com.

Because the spin-off centers around a child, I truly wish that “The Originals” would move back to the main show. Not only because their show is going downhill quickly but also because the parent has suffered from the lost of their resident big baddies. Damon hasn’t been one of them since season 1 and Season 5’s villain is…. A mad scientist.

 Terrifying.

“Once Upon a Time’s” badly named spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” doesn’t drop familiar characters into an unfamiliar setting. Instead, it drops unfamiliar characters into an unfamiliar setting with an extremely familiar plot.

 It could have been great, truly. The creators of “Lost” and their writers paired up again and everyone expected something original.

 It wasn’t.

 So I bid goodbye to two things that could have been great and pray they get cancelled, so that their masterminds can focus on the good things they did make, instead of trying to fix their mistakes.

 The Blunders:

 There’s definitely trends in the last five years of TV. Smaller networks have grown to house grossing giants.

 First off, the transition from book to TV show has been received far better than most book to movie adaptations. “Gossip Girl” has attested to this; excepting a few twists to leave the audience in suspense, it generally stayed loyal to the storyline.

 However, the two later “telebooks” currently on air, “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Vampire Diaries,” strayed so far away from their original storylines. I feel when I read the books, there’s two different Damon Salvatores.

 I don’t mind some of the changes, like the expansion in TVD’s third and fourth season on the Original Family, adding the necessary British badness.

 PLL’s changes have been extremely well received, but for die-hard purists, it’s a sore spot to watch the show.

 The second issue I have is about kids. Like kids who are actually playing kids, not like in “Game of Thrones” where the kids act much older than they actually are. In a dangerous setting that writers make TV out to be, children are a hindrance to character development. They keep characters in one ‘character type’ and more often than not they’re a plot device, the most common being “save them.”

 Another blunder, is how the media writes history. Three new series premiered this year with some sort of connection to those long, boring classes in senior hallway. But, I’m pretty sure if I wrote an essay on how the Boston Tea Party was actually a mission to recover something from demons, I’d receive a lovely Christmas gift: a big, red F.

 It’s not that it’s not entertaining; it’s just slightly ridiculous, but what else are you going to do with a show (“Sleepy Hollow”) playing on American fairy tales?

 Same with CW’s “Reign”. First off, Mary and Francis were married in their pre-teens. And his father’s mistress didn’t have a bastard son who was his best friend (This isn’t “Game of Thrones”!).

 And Dracula never went to London as an American looking to bring science to the UK.

 It’s not bad. It’s just wrong.

 The one bad thing about TV is flashbacks. They’re boring. They’re fillers. They’re a waste of money. Who cares if another character had a tragic past? I’d rather see what they do in spite of it.

 TV is trying to make everyone loved. Yet, fans learn to love a character even with no backstory at all. That’s why they are actors. So give your viewers a bit more credit, you have a smart audience. Give us a worthy spring season!

-Kate Clement