The Reilly 2040 Worst padding award.
Yup, its the award Pie Man named after me 😀
The story behind this award being that there are various shows I really think would’ve benefitted from a shorter, UK-style 13 episode season rather than the full 20+ episodes the US likes. Its generally arc-based shows I find suffer from it, with their compelling main storyline dragged out to fill the mandatory season length. There can be other factors as well, as while arc-based shows tend to do very well, studios prefer standalone episodes for their stronger performance in repeats. And that’s definitely the category our winner falls in to.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Sarah Connor had a 13 episode first season. It had a running plot thread with Cromartie rebuilding himself and chasing after Sarah and co, as well as developing its characters, with Sarah’s ex fiancée discovering she was still alive and finding it conflicting with the life he’d built for himself or FBI Agent Ellison slowly discovering the truth of what was happening with the Terminators, or Sarah’s ongoing attempts to prevent Skynet from being developed.
Given this success, a second season quickly followed, along with a bump to a full season order. However the story also goes that the studio was unhappy with all the linked plots and demanded more standalone episodes. Sadly for me, this really soured the second season. We had an interesting main plot with the Weaver T-1001 and what it was up to, developing “John Henry” who may or may not turn out to be Skynet. We had Sarah, John and co slowly finding clues pointing towards what she was doing. We had Jessie manipulating everyone and trying to sow distrust between John and Cameron. All really interesting plots, especially with the way the writers started using the fact that all the time-travel was changing and confusing things.
However, the standalones really broke this up and dragged everything out. It didn’t help that when we finally did get Sarah and the gang meeting Weaver that it was rushed into the last five minutes of the last (ever) episode. Instead we got a bunch of standalones of wildly varying quality. While I quite enjoyed the one with Cameron at the library, the episode which featured Sarah and the Sleep Institute really caused me to struggle with the series.
I can’t help but feel this was a series that really would’ve been better had it been restricted to 13 episodes a season, and allowed to tell a tight storyline across those episodes.
Worst network interference,
There’s a couple of contenders for this. Sarah Connor I’ve ended up talking about in depth above, and the other is Dollhouse, which Joss Whedon started working on for Fox, after being convinced it wouldn’t end up another Firefly, only for Fox to start demanding changes to the scripts to remove plot and add in more Eliza Dushku in skimpy outfits. The result was a very uneven and at times formulaic start to the first season, and viewers leaving the show in droves. However, Fox did redeem themselves a bit by signing up the show for a second season, much to everyone’s surprise. I guess they’re trying to learn from the Firefly mistake, and want to give the show a little room to grow before ditching it, which is commendable, although it remains to be seen as to whether or not the damage has already been done. Still I wish more networks would give some shows that same kind of leeway. We’ve seen so many shows that go on to be classics have a ropey first season. Babylon 5 probably being the most notable. So who am I going to give the award to?
This was very close, and I had to think over it a lot. However I think what tips it, is the element of history repeating itself. While Fox are now bringing it back for a second season to give it a chance, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. You’ve got Joss Whedon making the show. The guy who produced several of the big cult successes over the last 10 years in the form of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Doctor Horrible. How many successes does the guy need to have before they trust that he knows what he’s doing?
Pie Man special award.
Hmmm, is Pie Man supposed to choose this award for me I wonder? Anyway, the random award for a show that deserves mention, and I’m giving it to:
My Own Worst Enemy
This is probably my favourite show I’m currently watching. Christian Slater stars as Henry and Edward. Henry is a normal, quiet family man, whereas Edward works for a top secret Government Black Ops unit. Unfortunately for Henry, they’re also the same person, and when the chip that controls which of them is awake at any one moment breaks down, Henry’s life is thrown into turmoil.
I’d thought this sounded like a fun show, and I’m just continually impressed by how good it is. There’s solid action in the spy missions, intrigue regarding Edward’s backstory and what motivates him and suspense as Henry and Edward strive to keep their broken condition secret from the heads of their unit. There’s strong consideration to the characters involved as well and great performances.
This is going on a bit long, so I think I’ll split it off again. Look for part 4.