For broadcast networks that still observe such archaic traditions, the new “season” has begun doling out episodes. Over the years I’ve watched fewer network shows, although this year I’ve actually added two new ones (at least temporarily). I’m still watching the old three… and still questioning why I do.
It would be easy to dump the three old giant dinosaurs, CBS, NBC, and ABC. I haven’t watched the smaller ones (TNT, USA, etc) in years. Other than baseball, regularly scheduled TV broadcasts are decades in my past. I’m solidly about streaming these days — Netflix, Hulu, Prime. I’m considering adding Apple TV and HBO Max.
I’ve definitely taken to binge watching!
Going back quite some time, my posts about CBS’s NCIS, or its spin-offs, all express disappointment. I gave up on the spin-offs long ago, but their parent show (itself actually a spin-off of JAG, another show I loved) has retained a favored spot in my heart despite my growing disappointment with it.
That I let three episodes accumulate before I got around to watching says something about my disengagement. That I liked the two episodes of Bull more than any of the three NCIS episodes says even more.
What I’m trying to figure out now is how much of this is me and how much is the show. Some of both, for sure.
With the distraction of the election, on top of the distraction of the pandemic, my note pile has started to accumulate again. I’m way behind on my “Fall Clearance” plan to either finally write the posts or throw away the notes. (The issues I’ve been having with my laptop’s WiFi incompetence haven’t helped.)
Between winter and social distancing, I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on reading. I’ve also been catching up on TV shows I wanted to either check out or re-watch. There have been some new shows I liked so much the first time that I wanted to see them again.
So for this TV-Tuesday I’m channel surfing over all those shows.
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.
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.
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.
In a coincidental bit of symmetry, the last post I wrote (“NCIS: Spin-off Spin-out”) before writing 14 Westworld posts in a row, was about my disappointment with NCIS: New Orleans and how it was getting really hard to enjoy anymore.
Here now is a bookend post making the breakup official. The show has turned into something (or maybe it always was) that I don’t find any value in watching anymore. The fourth season has ended and, with it, so has my viewership. This is the second NCIS spin-off I see as a fail, which is sad when I’ve loved the original for so many years (15 of them, in fact).
It was the spectacularly stupid season finale that was the final straw (I mean, seriously, who writes this crap)…