With all the finales nearly up, I’ve been bombarded with a whole bunch of shows trying to finish up their run. On the one hand, it’s pretty much been a consecutive string of really high quality programming, on the other hand, most of my favourite series are done until the fall (or forever). So how did they fare? Here’s my countdown of the top 5 finales over the past week. Chances are it’ll be revised depending on whether 24 or Ugly Betty’s finales are up to snuff.
Television, more than any other media form I can think of, lives off of consumer trends and tastes. In other words, 95% of TV series that survive are based on pre-established industry formulas. You have your copper shows (L&O, Mentalist, NCIS, CSI), where every episode encapsulates a singular mystery (maybe 2) with the off chance of an ongoing backstory if the creators feel risky. This can also span enforcement centred shows like The Unit and 24.
Secondly you have your medicals. Grey’s Anatomy, House, Private Practice fall into this, where it’s basically the copper equivalent, only switch out crime with medical mystery, and streetwise cops/specialists with emotionally damaged doctors.
Thirdly, you have your reality shows. The less said about them, the better. Aside from a few genuinely great ones like Amazing Race and So You Think You Can Dance, they all range from absolutely deplorable to mildly amusing. he networks know they aren’t exactly pushing out timeless material, but they had ads they need showing and they need to show them to as many people as possible.
Looking at the top 20 rated shows for broadcast in any given week you will see these three categories easily dominate at least 14 spots. This past week saw these shows taking up 15 spots. That’s not saying these shows aren’t good. They have to have at least a certain level of inherent quality to have so many viewers tune in, but you can argue they aren’t exactly original.
Well, here are a handful of network shows that I feel have no right to exist, not because they’re bad but that they’re unlike any of the shows that dominate the ratings. These are the shows that defied the bottom line. They don’t fit any easily definable formula and networks probably could easily get just as many viewers, if not more, putting out a procedural. And yet they live! Well, some of them. A few have been cancelled, unfortunately, but they were still given full season runs when their ratings would say a repeat of House would’ve gotten twice as many viewers.
NOTE: I’m omitting cable shows seeing that they constitute a fairly low percentage of TV viewers and we all know they have some crazy shows networks would never touch. And the cable networks know it. Also,I’m only looking at shows currently on air.