The Good Wife cuts it losses. Not all shows do
|
Bookmark and Share
Feb 10, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

The Good Wife cuts it losses. Not all shows do

Not every TV series ends when its showrunners leave. How have others fared after their creators move on?

OurWindsor.Ca

The biggest surprise of the Super Bowl wasn’t the lopsided score or even that North Korea decided to launch a satellite into space.

For some it was the cancellation of beloved legal drama The Good Wife, which had fans tweeting up a storm.

The Good Wife was famously inspired by sex scandals such as the one involving Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton, where the wives of the powerful male figures end up receding in the background while supporting their errant husbands. In the opening season, lawyer Alicia Florrick has to return to work after her husband, the former Cook County, Illinois state’s attorney, has been jailed over a sex and corruption scandal.

It would go on for seven seasons to examine cutting edge issues in technology, law and culture that would make it one of the best written and best loved dramas on broadcast television.

But the writing was on the wall for the show’s future.

Creators Michelle and Robert King had already said they wouldn’t return for an eighth season since they were creatively tapped out. They were also busy producing another show for CBS. And the contract for Emmy-winning star Julianna Margulies, who plays Florrick, was due for renewal this year.

At the Television Critics Association convention in January, CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller warned of the possibility the show would end. It will get a final nine episodes with a May 8 series finale before drifting into syndication heaven.

Continuing a series without the original creators is always a hit or miss game. Geller erred on the side of caution, wrapping the show instead of handing it off to a new creative team.

That isn’t always the case on TV. Some shows do well without their original creators. Others flounder. Here are some of the hits and misses.

Misses


Gilmore Girls

The series, which ran from 2000 to 2007, was Amy Sherman-Palladino. But somehow, the CW network didn’t get the memo.

Palladino created the ultimate mother-daughter buddy show when she paired Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore raising daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) in the town of Stars Hollow. The rapid fire Tracy-Hepburn dialogue, littered with pop culture references, hooked viewers.

But contract negotiations stalled between the network and Palladino and her director husband Daniel at the end of Season 6. They were replaced by David S. Rosenthal, a writer and director already working on the series.

“It was a botched negotiation. It really was about the fact that I was working too much. I was going to be the crazy person who was locked in my house and never came out,” Palladino told Vulture. “I heard a lot of ‘Amy doesn’t need a writing staff because she and Dan write everything!’ I thought, ‘That’s a great mentality on your part, but if you want to keep the show going for two more years, let me hire more writers.’ By the way, all this s--- we asked for? They had to do anyway when we left.”

The show ran for one more season before it was cancelled. Fans complained that the finale was lacklustre and the writing was flat, with dialogue that couldn’t replicate the signature Palladino banter. But Palladino has the last laugh. She’s on Netflix shooting a four-part Gilmore revival.

Seinfeld

Seinfeld co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were a brilliant team when they created that little sitcom about nothing. Seinfeld could take comedic risks because the acerbic David would always ground the show with his resolute lack of sentimentality.

David’s script for “The Contest” (about who can hold out from masturbating the longest) won an Emmy and was voted TV Guide’s best TV episode of all time. But the team that brought you puffy shirts and Festivus was no more after the seventh season.

David left on friendly terms but would later tell comic David Steinberg that he worried that his episodes were losing creative edge.

Seinfeld went on for two more seasons, but the show, while still funny, became unhinged, becoming more fantastical under Seinfeld’s creative control. Having David’s cynical eye was sorely missed.

Community

Dan Harmon’s Community was inspired by his own experiences going to community college. Harmon served as showrunner after it was picked up by NBC in 2009 but was fired after three seasons.

Apparently, Sony and NBC executives did not appreciate outspoken employees who thought that they were hindrances to creative talent.

“Why’d Sony want me gone? I can’t answer that because I’ve been in as much contact with them as you have,” Harmon wrote on his blog after he was fired. “They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business.”

Harmon’s exile would last only a year. After ratings went down 11 per cent, studio executives apparently thought better of their decision. It didn’t help that Harmon trashed the show, calling it an “unflattering impression.”

But the big difference might have been made by the actors, including Joel McHale, who apparently lobbied to get Harmon back.

Hits


The Walking Dead

When creator Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) was fired after the second season of the show, most fans thought it would be the end of a promising franchise

Darabont was the one who brought the concept to AMC after seeing the work of author Robert Kirkman.

When it debuted in 2010 it was the highest rated series on the network. But executives reportedly had a mandate to cut costs and increase episodes.

Incoming showrunner Glen Mazzara was criticized by fans for being more caretaker than visionary.

Mazzara said he ended up getting notes from AMC, 15 producers and even cast members that he would try to incorporate into the storylines: not the best recipe for success.

Still, several showrunners later — Scott M. Gimple is the current one — ratings haven’t been hurt. The show, like its undead subjects, will not die and zombies are more popular than ever on TV. TWD remains the most successful cable show on the tube as it heads into the back half of its sixth season on Feb. 14. A companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, debuted in 2015.

The Simpsons

The late Sam Simon co-created The Simpsons based on Matt Groening’s cartoons.

He left after only four seasons following a dispute with Groening, but not before winning eight Emmy Awards for his creation. While Groening provided the inspiration, it was Simon who gave the cartoon characters life. His experience writing and producing shows such as Taxi and Cheers helped him mould the animation into a three-dimensional entity while providing slick social commentary. That would serve as the thematic foundation of the show.

His agreement with The Simpsons meant he kept collecting royalty cheques long after his departure. The Simpsons continued to thrive largely because Simon created a template for the show. That included hiring a crackerjack team of writers, including future talk show host Conan O’Brien

Simon died in 2013 of cancer. O’Brien told reporters that, “You can’t overstate his contribution to the Simpsons . . . no one’s smarter than he is.”

The Simpsons is still going strong as it moves into a remarkable Season 28.

Doctor Who

There was much angst in the sci-fi world recently when showrunner Steven Moffat announced he would step down after five years at the helm.

Moffat, the creator of critically acclaimed shows such as Sherlock, had given new life to an aging concept. The new showrunner will be Chris Chibnall, creator of another critically acclaimed show, Broadchurch, so it looks like the series is in safe hands.

Lost in the initial uproar is the fact that Doctor Who is more than half a century old and has been doing quite well despite a multitude of show runners and 12 different doctors over the years.

This quintessential British show was created by a Canadian, the late Sydney Newman, when he worked at the BBC in 1963. When Newman returned to Canada in 1970, the show continued at the BBC with his former production assistant Verity Lambert in charge.

The current doctor, Peter Capaldi, has already hinted that this may be his last season and Jenna Coleman, who plays companion Clara Oswald, has already announced her departure. While some executives now live in a Vince Gilligan or Shonda Rhimes world, where the showrunner can be bigger than the show itself, Doctor Who is a corporate dream: a show about a guy who time travels in a police box called a Tardis that has so far proved to be a transportable, bulletproof franchise.

Toronto Star

|
Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

In Your Neighbourhood Today

SPONSORED CONTENT View More