You can look at past failures of television shows to find out how to quickly kill a series.
An attempt at original doesn’t make it original
“Miami Medical”, a Jerry Bruckheimer show on CBS, came and went quicker than a blink. What happened?
Even though I liked the show, it was obvious that neither the setting nor the characters were very original. The supposed twist was that this was a state of the art trauma unit but it still smelled like “ER” to viewers. The characters were all unrealistically hot, beautiful, and all-too goody. The writers tried to create suspense with the new trauma unit head, Dr. Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam) but ultimately, it was just a rehash of other medical shows and didn’t give viewers a full spectrum of realistic entertainment.
Distorting the timeline
“Ghost Whisperer” was a hit when it began in 2005. I faithfully watched every episode and loved the premise. Even when the series took a bad turn and writers “killed” Jim (David Conrad) and then brought him back in another body (with the same actor), I still watched but with skepticism. Between the quickest pregnancy in the history of television and a big faux pas with Melinda’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) due date and the time of supposed conception after the original Jim had died, (for an explanation, read this. ) I still watched.
It wasn’t until the very quick flash forward of five years at the beginning of the last season that I decided to stop watching it. If it hadn’t been for that five year time difference, I might have continued watching. But that, combined with those other factors, was just too much for a simple viewer to deal with when they are watching just for entertainment.
Starting it in one genre, turning it into another
I’m not a huge fan of the traditional western but I will occasionally watch something that catches my eye. This was the case in 1993 when “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” premiered on FOX. Brisco (Bruce Campbell) was a bounty hunter on the lookout for members of a notorious gang of… well, what else but bad guys.
As the show progressed, it slipped further away from a western and into a science fiction show. I love science fiction, don’t get me wrong, but I’m kinda fickle about sticking to the genre it starts out with. If they don’t state upfront that they are a mixture of two genres, I feel betrayed. You can’t just switch gears to another genre mid season.
Fast changing character perceptions
“Heroes” quickly became a cult classic. It was realistic, it was engaging, and it kept the imagination going. With such a following, how did this show ever fall by the wayside?
There was a problem with the whole Heroes and Villains theme in general. While I get the message that was trying to be conveyed through the process (that certain circumstances can make a person switch from one side to the other), the continual back and forth from the bad to the good of some of the characters was too much and didn’t seem realistic at times.
But it was a combination of the entire Nathan/Sylar (Adrian Pasdar/Zachary Quinto) inconsistency and the twisted “good or bad?” story line that led to my decision not to watch it anymore. To read more about this, see this link.
There are still “Heroes” fans out there so I wouldn’t rule out further spins of the series whether in print or web form.
Trying too hard to make it suspenseful by making it weird
“Defying Gravity” was a very short lived series on ABC. It followed 8 astronauts from different countries through a solar system tour. When I first started watching this, I was intrigued with the characters and the story of exploration. But my attention wavered with the introduction of the mysterious “thing” aboard the ship.
There’s a line between realistic science fiction and speculative science fiction. I was disturbed that the show was being previewed as realistic when it turned into speculative. That’s not always a bad thing in some shows but in this particular one, the mysterious “thing” which messed with some people’s minds wasn’t what I expected or wanted to watch.
Related: http://tvslugs.blogspot.com/search/label/ghost%20whisperer , http://tvslugs.blogspot.com/search/label/heroes , http://tvslugs.blogspot.com/search/label/miami%20medical
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defying_Gravity_%28TV_series%29 ; http://www.tv.com/heroes/show/17552/cast.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Brisco_County,_Jr ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Whisperer ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Medical ;