Sunday, May 22, 2011

Judgement Day: Some New TV Favourites Bite the Dust

NOTE: This piece was originally published on Critics at Large on May 22, 2011. If you wish to comment, please do so on that page.

A scene fron NBC's Outsourced

When you love television, the threat of a show’s cancellation comes with the territory. Whether it’s because of middling ratings, skittish sponsors, quirks of network schedules, or a main star with eyes on the big screen, you know that a beloved TV series isn’t going to run forever. Nor, to be perfectly honest, should you want it to. Creatively speaking, in my opinion, some of the most fruitful consequences of the cable TV revolution are shorter seasons and shorter runs of shows. Thirteen brilliant episodes of a series like Terriers are worth more than 218 episodes of Smallville (which, after 10 seasons, recently aired its final episode). This is not to say that I wasn’t and am not still quite a bit upset about the untimely end of Terriers this past winter, but I’ve become a lot more philosophical about the lifespan of TV shows. Ironically, what made the cancellation of Terriers somewhat less upsetting for me was how well-constructed the series was, from start to finish. The writers and stars seemed to know exactly what the show was, and who the characters were, right out of the gate. What is more frustrating are shows that get cancelled just as a series is beginning to figure out what it is: you can see how good it’s going to become, only to see that future cut short. Every television season comes with a few heartbreaking announcements, and (with the cancellations of Outsourced and Traffic Light) the 2010-2011 season was no exception.