Monday, February 24, 2014

When good shows go bad, a few first seasons to check out

There are a whole host of shows that start off REALLY strong and then go off the rails for some reason or another.  Most tend to fade out over the last few seasons but there are only a handful of that are so good when they start that I would recommend watching the first season (and only the first season). I've been thinking about this for a few weeks but the announcement that Heroes is being revived and the accompanying Underwire article that suggests this is a good thing, kicked me into high gear.

First up we have (of course) Heroes.  Created by Tim Kring (also responsible for Crossing Jordan and the god-awful Touch starring Kiefer Sutherland), the series followed a group of ordinary people who find that they have extraordinary abilities and what they do with that knowledge.  Not only was the first season fast paced and well plotted, it had a distinct style and the benefit of being a unique event in television of the time.  Promotions for Heroes were modeled very closely on the 'previews' that one might see in a traditional comic book: providing a few visuals to titillate the next episode but nothing plot related.  This worked VERY well for the show and I think helped to build anticipation for many of the key plot points of season one.  While the show lasted another three seasons after the first, they're basically useless.  And with the epic arc that ended at the close of the first season this series is perfectly suited to a one season watch.  This one's available on Netflix.  This series also launched the careers of a handful of people you'll be very familiar with (Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere), though I think we can all agree that Zachary Quinto was the big winner here.

Prison Break was another show that had more seasons than I think it really needed.  The premise finds genius structural engineer Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) get himself committed to prison in order to save his brother Lincoln from the death penalty.  Convinced of his brother's innocence, Scofield hatches a careful plan to get them out, but he can't plan for what goes on once he's on the inside.  There were lots of fantastic secondary characters in this one but in particular I found the storyline with Theodore "T-bag" Bagwell (Robert Knepper) to be absolutely chilling.  Of course any show with such a simple premise has the potential to run out of road and the series did just that (in my estimation) after the first season.  That fact that this one HAD four seasons is owed probably in large part to Wentworth Miller's abs alone.  All that aside, this is definitely worth re-watching and is currently available on Netflix.  A quick reminder: all four seasons are there, but you should really only watch one.

With a very disturbing premise, The Killing follows the investigation of a young girl's disappearance and the effect it has on the people around her.  This includes the police detective who catches her case (and a new partner) just as she's supposed to be transferring out of the area.  Moody and contemplative, the show is based on a Danish series and certainly has some of the best sweaters I've seen in years.  Never satisfied with a clear answer, the series will have you on your toes throughout.  This is also available on Netflix and while I've heard that the second season was also pretty good, I only ever watched the first and was very satisfied with that.  The series also introduced Mireille Enos to the mainstream, with a compelling turn as troubled police detective and mother Sarah Linden and Robocop himself, Joel Kinnaman.

Runner up: Grey's Anatomy, because the first season is so different than all the rest it's essentially a different show.

Which series do you think should have only had one season? Post them in the comments below!


  1. I had posted awhile ago and my comment never appeared.

    I disagree with your choice of The Killing. We are oftentimes coddled into believing a mystery should be wrapped up in one season. Maybe the show wasted time, but I was hooked the whole time.

    Season 4 will be airing on Netflix with JOAN ALLEN. I am already loving it.

  2. Well there you go! Although I will point out, I didn't suggest that you stop watching because they didn't solve it (I actually loved that). My main thing is that over time the pacing wore on me a little. That said, I trust your opinion so maybe I'll give it another shot.

  3. I've been watching the fifth season of Justified. There are so many dim-witted characters who should have been killed by now if this were the real world - at least in my opinion. It's become hard to watch. Some characters just need to die, even if writers and viewers enjoy them.

    The same must be said for Shameless. Why is William H. Macy on the show? He may be a good actor, but his character is just a nuisance now. There is nothing enjoyable about his character arc.

  4. I gave up on Justified after season three actually, so I'm not surprised that it's getting difficult to watch. I just finished watching last week's episode of Scandal and I'm thoroughly disappointed. She's "Shonda'd" it. Which makes me sad. As I love Kerri Washington.