Linda Maye Adams

Soldier, Storyteller

New TV Season–Good, Bad, or Meh?


The new TV season is about to start in the next few weeks. I remember how I used to grab the next copy of the TV Guide when it arrived in the mail on Thursday and rush through to my favorite shows to see what the episode was about.

Now I don’t even subscribe to TV Guide.

And I find I watch fewer shows every year. Partially because the networks are so eager for instant hits (like book publishers) that they cancel a lot of them if they aren’t successful within 2-3 episodes. It’s not worth even getting interested if the show’s not going to survive.

The result has been that I usually discover a show once it’s been on the air for about 3 years, and sometimes when it’s about to get cancelled (Person of Interest).

Anyway, here’s some comments on a couple of shows:

Bones

This is one that I got the first season for and just about inhaled it. Loved the characters, loved the stories, and loved the combination of forensics and anthropology.

It’s also one that I stopped watching. I think it really lost something when they recast the boss of the Jeffersonian to Cam, and also when they had Zack go to a mental institution. I get why they probably had to have Zack leave the show in the long run. They’d gone about as far as they could with the character.

But they could have had him hired by someone, and then come back periodically. Instead, they crossed a line I’ve sometimes seen in series books where the author is pushing for the next big thing and changes the series in a very fundamental way.

The casting of Cam also changed the series, too, because it made the series entirely about crime. It might just be my personal preference, but the story was originally about scientists (“Squints”) and law enforcement clashing over how different they were, which was always a fun conflict. Sure, series do change, but this change took it away from the cool stuff of science and just made it forensics.

I stayed watching this one for a while, but I got to the point where everything now feels tired and old.

NCIS

This is the original one. I didn’t watch it originally because I thought it was going to be another JAG. TV is hugely imitative, especially when anything is successful. I started watching it the year after Tony’s undercover operation to get the drug dealer.

The characters really make the show. It’s even survived numerous cast changes, because they make the effort to develop a new character as a unique person. That’s pretty satisfying for the actors. Criminal Minds, on the other hand, has had problems keeping women because they obviously cast two of the roles as simply “the blond and the brunette,” and still think like that. The result is that the brunette character tends not to feel like a part of the series, but just a placeholder.

NCIS is either in Year 14 or 15, which is astounding that it’s managed to stay fresh. Series usually starting running out of stories about Year 7.

NCIS relies both on story arcs over the season, but also use solo episodes. One of the things I really like that isn’t always present in TV series is that the series refers back to old episodes. One of my early favorite series was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. But one of the big problems was that each episode hit a reset button. So when the aliens came to take over the ship, it always felt like they were treating it as the first time.

This is such a big thing in NCIS that if a guest star’s character is still alive, they may resurface at a later date. Even some of the dead ones have come back! It makes for a wonderful continuity, and keeps the show same and changes it, because those characters change.

Curiously, the network honchos can’t figure out why the show is so successful. Go figure.

What are you looking forward to this TV season?

1 Comment

  1. I got the new TV Guide today. I’ve been disappointed before–especially with the darker and bloodier trend, but Blind Spot sounds intriguing. Btw, I’ve glanced at Bones now and then because my sister watches it; and she’s still annoyed about Zack, whom I wasn’t aware of.

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