When do you bail on a series, movie or story?
We had a pretty fine conversation on the Quackcast last week that wandered into the category of “endings” and when they're set up well vs badly and such. I had a similar convo today with someone about various series and how long to watch before tapping out. We agreed that some series could be enjoyed and then abandoned without feeling unsatisfied.
I've gotten a sense over the years of when a series I like is going south. Maybe it's nothing to boast about too much; it seems to be more intuitive than anything else.
There was a show called Dexter, based on a series of books about a serial killer who worked for the police, and challenged his compulsion into killing other serial killers. It was phenomenal and my friends and I discussed it every week. It was the best. For four seasons that is. All four of those seasons were great, with season 4, happily, being just as good as season 1 and tied for ‘best’.
Unfortunately, after that it seemed to go off course completely and I bailed on it after season 5, though I kept up with online reactions and reviews and heard about some of the horrible things (in a bad way) that happened in the second half of the show.
Ugh. So glad I left! But that season 4 ending is pretty great, and it works as an ending. It leaves you with questions about what happens later, but it does work quite well as a finale.
Entourage was another one, a “guy's fantasy” I guess, where nothing too bad ever happened. Pure comfort food. Silly and fun. The cracks began to appear I think around season six. The guys were much less…well, guy-like. They all began getting kind of soft and wimpy. All four characters at once. The season ended fine, though. Quite satisfying and felt like an ending. I didn't bother going any further with it, and again heard it got terrible after that.
It's not that characters can't grow and change and guys can't mellow out a little as they mature. But that show was not about that.
And I think that's where I feel I can sense that the end is near. It's a feeling that this series is no longer this series. The core of the thing is being chipped away. Maybe the writers are out of ideas. Maybe they're seeing a too-narrow point of view or something. But this kind of change must be handled with EXTREME care, and in my opinion, is almost always a bad idea.
Another big mistake is solving the main characters' big inner problem too soon. Solving the problem of Mulder's sister fell flat in the X-Files (the problem could have been HOW they resolved it though).
A series character needs “an itch to scratch”. Something that drives them forward and maybe holds them back as well. If you resolve that itch, even if you do it right, your series in on the way out.
Betraying core principles of character or series premise is the other one.
My Name is Earl was about a hick who tried to make up for his many mistakes, crossing items off his list as he
resolved them. In season 3 the show betrayed that premise for some reason and it was horrendous.
Hmm. I could go on and on and this is already rambling.
When do you bail on a series? I know “when it gets boring or I just lose interest” is the answer, but can you identify anything specifically that makes you bail? What are the stopping points of some series you know of?
Some stopping points for me (feel free to agree or disagree!)
-My Name is Earl (quit after season 2. It's a cliffhanger, but the show's so damn good before then. Worth it!)
-Dexter (quit after season 4. Amazing show up til then)
-Entourage (quit after season 6)
-Star Trek Next Gen (skip season 7, except “Genesis”, “Journey's End”, “Pre-emptive Strike”, and “All Good Things”
-Sex and the City (watch the whole series, skip the movies.
Okay that's enough outta me. Should've bailed on this article 18 paragraphs ago!
Have a good one,
Banes at 12:00AM, June 6, 2019
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