I have two potentially really good commentaries I could make right now but given how crazy the next few weeks are going to be for me and being up against deadline (probably over it by the time this goes live) and that I like to end the week on a fun or thoughtful note instead of a rant I need something else. So let’s talk about television networks and their would-be successors in web series. (Netflix still isn’t a TV network to me.)
In Japan most TV shows (at least the ones that reach us) last maybe a season or two. A franchise like Ultraman or Kamen Rider may introduce yet another sequel with a new hero, new way to summon them, and even a new universe to face new threats. Shows like One Piece are a rare exception, and that manga is nearing its finale. In American TV however even a show with a running storyline, something fairly recent as most shows have done-in-one episodes, can outstay its welcome if the show is making the network or streaming service enough currency. There are fans who still watch The Simpsons despite all the complaints that the show has long outlived it’s shelf life. Imagine a show with a finite story being forced to extend that story because it has people watching. This can damage a show, as the following video by Harblo Wholmes goes over.
Catch more Harblo Wholmes on his YouTube channel.
I’m surprised The Walking Dead falls into this because they have a guide to do the show in the form of the comic series this is based on. The show started well after the comic, and the comic just ended I think last year or the year before. How much more do they have left? Meanwhile I haven’t seen Lost and even I know this show stayed around longer than it needs to. Of course you also have shows like Twin Peaks who never had an ending planned and never planned to solve its mystery, meaning it was lying to the audience about its premise in the hopes that they’d just stay for the weird stuff.
In a similar vein the creator can have a vision for how the story should go but external circumstances made that difficult. Take for example Babylon 5. Sinclair was always meant to be replaced so he could return and become Valen. However, when the show was cut off prematurely in syndication and continued by TNT Claudia Christian opted not to return and the network interfered with the show and its spinoffs.
Speaking of spinoffs another problem could be when a spinoff is forced on the creators. Avatar: The Last Airbender ended where it should have and with a satisfying conclusion, but Nickelodeon didn’t want to give the Avatar universe up. There have been comics tying up loose ends like what happened to Zuko’s mom, but on TV we got The Legend Of Korra, a show that was not as well received because the Avatar of this series wasn’t very likable. I’m not sure this was a story that even needed to be told and I have less hope for the “Avatar Studios” that will only be continuing a universe that doesn’t have the potential for expansion as say Star Wars.
Of course a story can be cut off early, but there’s nothing that can be done about that. If the show isn’t getting the draw the network wants they’re losing money on it and in that case business understandably trumps the creativity. Luckily there’s the possibility of another network or streaming service picking it up or crowdfunding a completing season. However, the problem in this video is that the network doesn’t care about the creativity, which I always find odd when creativity is part of their business.