Want to ruin a great tv series? Here's how!

(For purposes of this thread, great tv series = series the poster happens to think is great. Even if it’s The Sarah Silverman Program.

As everyone knows, Joan of Arcadia was the greatest tv show of all time. Even so, it lasted barely two seasons; no one seemed to want a series about a high school girl who had conversations with an ever-changing-and-very-subtle God. Toward the end of the series, I seem to recall hearing that executives at CBS were considering retooling it to ramp up the fantasy elements. This brought to mind the terrible, terrible image of God giving Joan superpowers ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer, going on quests ala Xena, and perhaps hiding throwing knives in her bosom. Such a thing would have been far worse than the series being cancelled, I think.

What other ways can you think of to destroy a series you love?

Moving it around the schedule seemingly at random and/or showing episodes out of order.

I should have been more clear. I’m looking for ways to change the execution of a show’s premise so that it seems, superficially, the same, but in fact becomes a wretched mess.

I see what you did there… :wink:

  1. Stunt-casting is almost always a mistake.
  2. Babies always are.
  3. Romantic interaction between two characters who never interacted that way before can be deadly, unless you’re Joss. Then it’s just mean.

I disagree with both 1 & 2. Will & Grace made stunt casting work, as it emphasized the essentially farcical nature of the show. W&G worked best when it was ridiculous. As for babies, it depends on the type of show. Having Hope get pregnant on thirtysomething worked. But I’d say babies should only be introduced into essentially domestic dramas, where the story can reasonably explore what parenthood would do to the characters.

Take a supporting character who works best in small doses as a sharp counterpoint to the lead, then gradually focus the story more and more around them until the original lead character is simply a backdrop.

Dumbing it down like Fox did with Sliders.

Adding a cute kid.

Casting a model and expecting her to act.

Removing all realistic elements and making it completely “wicky-wacky,” as in Boston Legal.

Failing to kill off any character played by David Caruso.

Which is why I said “almost.” Name another series where it worked regularly.

Or having two characters with major romantic tension get married. See Get Smart, for example, though that was on its way out anyhow.

Another way - start adding plot elements and continuity such that if you miss one episode, you are toast. Might be good for DVD sales, but not broadcast audience - except for the few fanatics.

ETA: If you start out this way, you may be ok. Doing it in the middle of a run is a killer.

And putting the major character in jail for a year away from most of the characters he interacts with helps also.

People have to get specific otherwise anyone can post a tvtropes or jumptheshark list. That’s not at all interesting to anyone.

[bastard mode]

Frasier.

[/bastard mode]

But I’ll agree that it’s more likely to get in the way than not. You see that especially in the two Law & Order spin-offs, as the presence of a name guest star tends to ruin the mystery.

It was actually possible to make Sliders even dumber? :eek:

How about – “throw out the entire concept and any interesting characters in order to cast a couple of big names as regulars.” This is what CBS did to Bob, a terrific Bob Newhart vehicle set in at a comic book publishers with Newhart as the creator of a comic who was able to junk his job as a greeting card company when his old character was revived. It was accurate in detail (many scripts were written by comic book writer Bob Evanier) and very funny, with some great, quirky, hilarious characters.

CBS first jerked it around from time slot to time slot. Then they renewed it on the condition it be totally revamped, with Bob going back to the greeting card company so they could cast Betty White and Jere Burns (it really wouldn’t have been to hard to add them to the original concept). Without anything funny, the show died a quick death.

Ugly Betty- stop having cliffhangers, make the supportingayz into a cartoon, pay no attention to what fans seem to like, and concentrate more on the boring boss and co-workers than on Betty. Make her father- who had major story arcs in the first two seasons- basically a cameo who cooks Mexican food for guest stars.

Good Times- let’s get rid of James because the actor’s complaining and the character isn’t that important, then marry extremely religious Florida to an atheist a few weeks after his funeral and have her leave the family [what widowed devoted religious mothers won’t leave their three teenaged kids alone in a housing project in Chicago with no visible means of support if the right atheist comes along?] then bring her back without ever mentioning the second husband again, and work in some new characters who seem to all have been hexed by Marie Laveau and have nothing but bad luck once they encounter the Evanses.

Grace Under Fire- a sassy intelligent southern gal in a blue collar job trying to raise her kids is funny, but you know what makes it funnier? More alcoholism related story lines. And the abusive substance abusing ex-husband you never see- let’s bring him on as a main character and make him a not-so-bad-sort after all. People want serious topical social issues when they see a sitcom.
Northern Exposure- two words: MORE ED. And when Fleischman leaves replace him with another big city doctor who looks just like him but this time add a wife. Go from nice doses of quirky to completely surreal episodes and let the most interesting supporting characters on TV recede to the background.

Build a compelling, dramatic story over a period of years, requiring fans to wait months between half seasons, and raising lots of fascinating questions. Be sure to include a classic rock song and imply it is somehow crucial to future plot developments. For the last half season, be sure to promote the hell out of it being the final few episodes and that “all will be revealed”. Then waste hours of precious final episodes screentime with tedious boring crap, have your heroes quit, abandon their weapons/technology, and go off to live like hunter gatherers. All those fascinating questions to which you promised answers? Meh. God did it. Never explain the song. Fade to black, series over.

Yes, I am still bitter.

Oak, I don’t know whether to send over the Trish Helfer-model hookerbots to console you or the Katee Sackhoff models to make sure you don’t go insane with rage and beat Ron Moore to death with a club.

You say that like beating Ron Moore to death with a club would not be a public service of such magnitude that the Nobel Prize committee would immediately award all future prizes to me.

But, hey, hookerbots are always good :smiley:

  1. Stunt casting the baby with Jonathan Winters- capital crime.

I hate to ask- what was the show?

Battlestar Galactica. The counselor was vexed by the ending.