Don't go changing to try and please me

Warning: The first person to use the term Jump the Shark gets drawn and quartered

What good shows have annoyingly changed to appeal to a bigger audience? I don’t mean JTS moments. Those I think of as shows that are tired and have run out of ideas. JTS moments are usually unintentional. I’m thinking more of critically acclaimed shows with lousy ratings that made attempts to make themselves more palatable for the masses. I’ll give some examples:

Homicide: Life on the Streets This show was based on a non-fiction book about Baltimore homicide detectives. The show was supposed to take a more realistic view of detectives. A case may take all season to slove. Some never get sloved. Some get solved in 5 minutes. When ratings were bad they went to a more NYPD Blue style of writing. Most of the cases were solved in 50 minutes. The show retained some of its uniqueness but they did change it to try and get more people to watch.

Boomtown I loved this show when it first came out. The non-linear format was well done but it meant the audience had to pay attention. They were fighting for their lives due to poor ratings so they changed to a more linear format. Still better than most of what was on TV but it was better the original way. Not that it mattered it was cancelled anyway.

Due South Funny, quirky, sad and serious at times. One of my all-time favorite shows. They purposely changed to make it more accessible. It went from quirky to goofy. This was long before they changed Rays.

I loved the first season of Boomtown, and I loved how we’d see the same scene over again, but from another character’s point-of-view. As you said, the audience had to pay attention and think. You’d pick up subtle differences in the scenes. I thought it was very cool. Very different, but too different, apparently. :rolleyes:

From something I read on the TWoP boards, the reason they changed it was because some idiots, er… I mean, other viewers were complaining about the title cards before each scene, with the character’s names on them - not understanding why they did that, and not understanding why we were seeing the same scene over again. They just didn’t get that it was being replayed through that other character’s eyes.

*::: sigh ::: *
Boomtown could have been great, and could have had a long run. Oh, well.

Not specifically within the milieu that you’re looking for, but the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic books were fairly serious comic books, done as a weird parody/do-over of the Daredevil story. When they began doing the TV show, however, it became much more of a pizza-dude, cowabunga lifestyle that appealed to the masses, rather than being a serious cartoon based on a serious comic book.

Alias - great in the first season where Sydney is working inside SD6. But the audience found it too confusing, so the writers had SD6 destroyed, and Sydney come to work for the real CIA. At that point the show turned to crap.

TMNT came out back when I was still reading comicbooks. You are right when it first came out it was a pretty good satire of a lot of the over used trends of the day. Then the TV show came out and it went to crap. BTW I still have 2 copies of TMNT #2 with the mistake double cover, is it still worth anything? (Its my thread and I’ll hijack if I want to)

At some point in the short run of “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” (thrid season, I think) they decided “Hey, let’s make him a less distinctive dresser, and make his friends less odd, and give him a girlfriend with zero personality and make the principal nice and take away anything original or interesting about the show!”

I watched the first season of The West Wing in awe. I watched the second with great satisfaction. I stopped watching a couple shows into the third.

Same with 24: the firs season was one of the most brilliant shows ever on TV. The second wasn’t bad. The third was lame as hell. Ditto, now that I think of it, The Shield.

Buffy, however, started lamish, and developed into one of the top two or three television shows of all time, quitting at its peak.

lissener correct me if I’m wrong (like you wouldn’t anyway), didn’t West Wing start off with a different premise? Of course it was still about the White House. I seem to recall that it was going to focus almost exclusively on the staff, sort of a behind the scenes look. The president was supposed to be little more than a cameo role every week. Martin Sheen quickly became the star of the show even before Sorkin left.

lissener upon further review I don’t think any of your choices fit the OP. I do agree with your assessments of all the shows (except The Sheild I only caught a couple of episodes). All those shows did change over time but a don’t think any of them changed dramatically due to network pressures or fear of cancellation.


The second season of Dark Angel. Sure, it was a nice try to introduce a long term plot, rather than one-offs, but I’d prefer just Jessica Alba kicking ass every week if your plot is Fucking Stupid©

A genetic engineering program has been going on for 7000 years to produce a race of supermen…and NO ONE FOUND OUT TILL NOW!

The Critic softened up Jay Sherman when it moved from ABC to Fox. Jay was made more “likable”, and given a girlfriend. The move didn’t help, as the show was cancelled after one season on Fox. (Although I personally liked the Fox run better than the ABC run.)

Similar to The John Larouquette Show; they gave him a girlfriend and the show tanked. Or more likely, they thought a girlfriend would be the life preserver that kept the show from drowning.

We could probably start a sub-thread on sitcoms that added a baby in their next-to-last season, in a desperate attempt to salvage ratings. Mork & Mindy, Murphy Brown, Mad About You spring to mind without even thinking hard.

OK I’m nitpicking but those are just plot devices and not changes to the stucture of the show. The multiple POV format of Boomtown was the entire premise and stucture of the show. Then it wasn’t. It would be like having 24 occur over the course of a month.

It’s your thread; nitpick all you like; no offense taken. I would think, though, that taking a series about happy single people and making them married with children is a bit more than a plot device.

This may or may not be an example; it may not even be true. But…I started watching Without a Trace after it was already up & running for a while. Based on the title & opening credits, I got the impression that it was going to be about investigations into people who had mysteriously disappeared. But each week we see the FBI brought in to find people who’ve been gone for…oh…4 hours? Before the police would even open a missing persons report? So it’s just a standard police procedural show, and nothing to do with missing persons. So did they change premise mid-stream at some point?

I’d heard that Rob Lowe was supposed to be the “star”, with Martin Sheen making an occasional appearance. Never happened that way, as it immediately became an ensemble show; although Rob Lowe was still listed first in the credits; Sheen last; with everyone else in alphabetical order.

Yes, according to Sorkin himself in the commentaries on the first season DVDs, landing Martin Sheen convinced him to change the focus of the show. IIRC, the President was only going to show up about four times in the first season.
And slight hijack: I only started watching WW on Bravo reruns last year. I purposely boycotted the show because Sorkin left “Sports Night” high and dry to work on his An American President sequel.

L&O Criminal Intent changed to be less columbo-like (showing the perp) and more L&O-like, with a mystery to solve over the course of the show.
I like it better, but I never liked columbo, either.

I assume any changes such as the ones I mentioned are always due to network tinkering.

Maybe so. In those examples it seems more like the writing just got worse over time (or better for Buffy). There was no sudden change to try and pander to the masses like in Boomtown.