There are times where I find myself wishing that television shows had an expiry date, a best before sticker which would cause them to end before the crap started. Unfortunately, no such thing exists. The same goes for movies, there are only so many times one can create a new Police Academy film. Television shows going past their expiry date have been on my mind recently with the newly released Two and a Half Men.
We’ve all heard about it, after Charlie Sheen was fired from his own show, Ashton Kutcher was brought in by Warner Bros as a new lead for Two and a Half Men. Fans needn’t worry though; Kutcher isn’t playing Charlie Harper, rather, a new character, Walden Schmidt. What happens is Rose (Melanie Lynskey) allegedly pushes Charlie in front of a moving train after she finds him in bed with another woman. And in comes Walden, a recently divorced internet tycoon who becomes roomies with Alan (Jon Cryer) and Jake (Angus T. Jones).
While receiving mixed reviews, ratings have stayed high, though are sure to rub off soon, along with everyone else’s curiosity. Why is this bothering me? Because having Two and a Half Men without Charlie is like having Dawson’s Creek without Dawson – you just don’t do it. Two and a Half Men had eight brilliant seasons, eight. And the kicker is that the way season eight ended could have allowed for a special finale episode and then everything could have been over. Caput.
Instead, Warner Bros decided to drag out the series. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time a television show has continued past its expiration date. Case in point, Lost. Brilliant concept, for one season maybe, not six. They were on the island, then off the island, then back on the island again and with a series finale that I’m still confused about. There’s nothing wrong with making a show that lasts only one season. Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand this concept.
Along with Two and a Half Men, there are two other shows who continued on once main characters were written out of the script, One Tree Hill and Scrubs. When Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) drove away in a car at the end of season six of One Tree Hill, it should have been the end of the road. Instead, without its two main characters, the show has continued on to have an additional three seasons and while there are still some fans, the show’s popularity has dwindled.
Scrubs should have finished at the end of season eight, after the two part episode “My Finale Part One and Two”. My Finale gives off the impression that it should be final. It wasn’t. Season Nine of Scrubs wasn’t really Scrubs at all with J.D. (Zach Braff) only making guest appearances and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) and Carla (Judy Reyes) not being a part of the show. This wasn’t a smart move, the ratings suffered and show was subsequently cancelled after only 13 episodes.
The moral of the story? To all television executives, please, for the love of God, when your main character leaves the show END THE SHOW. That’s all.
Originally published 7th October 2011
NB: Since originally writing this post, One Tree Hill has finished filming the final thirteen episodes that make up Season Nine and the end of the show.