March 10, 2009

The Neverending Story

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I’m going through a TV crisis right now and I blame it all on Scrubs. Well, not really just on Scrubs, but on the prevailing belief that the longer a television show runs, the better the show. Think about it. Friends, for instance, will be forever known as the sitcom that ran for ten seasons. But really, Friends could have ended after its eighth season. It would have been remembered just as fondly, perhaps more so.
While I can say that I would have been devastated had Friends ended earlier (it was enough of a crisis that it only stood by my side for one year of high school), looking back, I think its legacy would have been better off had it ended sooner. This at least would have been the case in the eyes of the true fans, the ones who owned every season and watched episode after episode when falling asleep at night so that Monica, Rachel, Pheobe, Joey, Chandler and Ross would be forever etched into their dreams and innermost thoughts. No, I don’t know any of these people.
The reason I believe that Friends’ legacy would have been boosted had it concluded a season or two earlier, is simply that the show got bad. For instance, there was an episode in Season Nine in which Monica thought that Chandler liked shark porn, when really, he just liked regular porn. This was just weird, and not that funny. Now when I think of Friends today, maybe instead of shark porn, I would think of the time Pheobe’s dollhouse blew up or the time Chandler got stuck in a bank during a black out with a supermodel. While these funnier, more lovable Friends moments are not necessarily blocked out by the shark porn episode, they are at least accompanied by it, and I think of the show a lot less highly because of it.
Now back to Scrubs. Unfortunately, I think that this show is headed along the same track as Friends. I was beside myself when I found out that it was running for another season, but I have to say that now I understand NBC’s decision not to end such a good thing. I’m not angry at ABC for adopting the show, because truthfully, a not-so-great episode of Scrubs still brightens my day. But I do think that, like the legacy of Friends, the legacy of Scrubs will be forever tainted with a not-so-great and not-so-necessary eighth season.
Furthermore, not only am I worried about these shows’ legacies, I am worried about myself and everything that I’m missing. As long as there are new episodes of Scrubs, I will never be able to leave it. That is just what being a good TV watcher is all about — loyalty.
I have found that I am angry at my beloved Scrubs, angry that because with my loyalty to it comes the sad fact that I cannot watch as many other shows. It is impossible for me not to harbor resentment towards Scrubs, when its recent mediocrity is keeping me from starting new shows that are also supposed to be worthwhile — like Lost, or Big Love, or The Office (although at this point I think I will just see how long I can go without watching The Office before being completely shunned from planet Earth).
I’m definitely not saying that Scrubs should simply go off the air, because frankly, although the same jokes are being used over and over again, they are still making me laugh. Yes, JD’s new beard is a way of making him seem more “grown up” while the writers have neglected to make his character actually grow up emotionally. Yes, I cannot count how many times I’ve head Ted make a comment like the one he made in this season’s premiere, “… Just waiting for the anti-anxiety medicine to kick in.” And yes, the janitor has lied about having a son more times than I could count on my hands. But if I am still laughing, then what is the problem?
So I guess I don’t really have a solution. Maybe when people start to realize this, producers will have no other choice but to end while they’re ahead. There is a lot of other TV out there, and for those loyal fans that feel like they need to stick with a show until the very end, they may find themselves missing out if their show stays around for just a little too long. I suppose that each individual must make the decision for his- or herself, whether to remain loyal or to venture into unknown territory.