This past Sunday I watched and very much enjoyed the last ever episodes of The Good Place (CBS). I’ve avoided articles about it in my newsfeed, but a headline or two suggested some fans weren’t satisfied. (A rant for another time: Clickbait headlines and headlines with spoilers. So annoying.)
Maybe some fans just didn’t want the show to end, which I get, but I appreciate knowing when and how to make a graceful exit. I like the way the show’s creator, Michael Shur, effectively said, ‘This much and no more.’
As it turns out, it’s not the only show I watch that’s ending. Several of them are. (And there’s one or two I really wish would call it quits.)
This TV Tuesday post was originally going to be another rant about WTF is going on with NCIS (I held off on because I didn’t want to kvetch on Christmas). But then I had a really interesting thought about my other favorite (broadcast) TV show, The Good Place.
There’s an old joke about the philosophy professor who says, “Every time I think I’ve had an original though, it turns out some damned ancient Greek thought of it first.” There’s a more serious version in Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
It turns out I’m not the first, by a long stretch, to notice how The Good Place echos and references The Wizard of Oz.
Still half a meal!
When I was growing up, we didn’t have much money, but we were always blessed with food on the table, a place to sleep, and a roof over us. I have no complaints — nor even a sense — my life lacked luxury. It never lacked what was needed, and it never lacked love. That’s a pretty golden childhood.
But money was tight, and our ethic was “waste not, want not!” Two of the more grievous sins in our family were waste and inequitable distribution (everyone got a fair share of what there was). I heard a lot about those “starving children in India.”
Which is why it annoys me when characters waste food.
I wrote about the CBS show, Madam Secretary, back when it premiered. Interestingly, that post is among those people still sometimes read. In fact, it’s one of the older of my posts people still sometimes read. That post also talked about another CBS show, Scorpion, which (to my surprise) lasted four seasons, so I’m not entirely sure what the attraction is.
Madam Secretary, informally retitled Madam President for its sixth and last season, aired its final episode last Sunday, December 8th. And while nothing is perfect, and all runners stumble, in its six-year run, this show gets an unqualified Wow! rating from me.
I’m really going to miss it.
Maybe it’s expecting too much that a TV series remain in your heart for 17 seasons. I still enjoy The Simpsons (starting its 31st season) and South Park (starting its 23rd season), but both the cartoon format and the nature of those shows gives them a lot of latitude in exploring new ideas while remaining true to the show.
A drama, like NCIS, which I’ve rated as my favorite TV show for well over a decade, is more restricted. It’s harder for a drama to find new ground while remaining true to its nature. That can lead to stagnation, viewer fatigue, or, in some cases, “jumping the shark.”
Which is all to say I’m very disappointed in NCIS, season 17.
As I recall, I discovered Perry Mason, somewhere in the early-to-mid 1960s, when I was in grade school. I don’t recall if I first found the Erle Stanley Gardner books or the TV show starring Raymond Burr. I am sure one followed the other very quickly (probably why I don’t remember which was first). Either way, it started a love affair with courtroom drama that exists still today.
The most recent courtroom drama I’m aware of is The Good Wife (2009–2016), and I just finished re-watching that series on Hulu. There is a spin-off, The Good Fight, done by the same producers, and which has some of the supporting actors, but which is part of CBS’s streaming service, so it’s not really on my menu.
And then there’s an old show called The Practice (1997–2004)…
Just last March I asked, Am I Over NCIS? The question seems even more pressing given the NCIS season 16 finale. (Spoiler warning on the season, not to mention any and all previous seasons.) I’ve never been this mixed in my feelings regarding the characters, and the off-screen personal stuff is especially disturbing given other ugly entertainment-related realities that have been uncovered recently.
There is additional pressure from time in the saddle as well as from how viewing habits have changed (both mine and the world’s). Weekly episodes of commercial-filled broadcast TV seem increasingly quaint somehow. And sixteen seasons — most of them 24 episodes — is a lot of NCIS (378 episodes; over 260 hours).
All-in-all, for me the sun may well be setting on NCIS.
If I reverse the first two words of the title (and call the question mark to attention), it removes all uncertainty, but for now I’m on the fence and asking. I’ve already reached certainty with both spin-offs (the oldest many years ago, the younger sibling just last year). Now, either I might be over their parent, NCIS, or just maybe the show itself is over.
I sometimes get the sense I’m more attached to the idea of over than many. I’ve mentioned more than once that I try to look forward, and around, rather than in the rear-view mirror. I’ve also mentioned how a primary ask of mine for stories is: “Take me someplace new.”
Nostalgia never had much pull for me, nor did more-of-the-same once a story has been finished.
Because I knew I’d be dog-sitting Bentley for two weeks, I spent the weeks prior getting a lot of work done with the specific intention of burning out a bit and needing some loaf time. I figured I could spend Bentley time, when not actually interacting with her, reading and catching up on TV (both queues are long). The Yang to the Yin is that, after a goodly break, the work would seem fresh again.
The point is that I’ve been watching a lot of TV. During the day (when not “dogging it”), I’ve read (more about that another post); and in the evenings, I’ve watched TV 5.0.
Which is to say cable-cut internet-streaming wifi TV using downloaded apps from the manufacturer’s online store. We’ve come a very long way (baby).