Some thoughts on ‘Forever’ (ABC) and the fact that there are WAY too many substandard shows on TV at the moment


imageNew York’s star medical examiner, Dr. Henry Morgan, doesn’t study the dead only to help solve criminal cases. Born 200 years ago, he hopes his work also will help solve mysteries about his own mysterious immortality. The remarkable observational skills he has developed over his long life impress his new partner, Detective Jo Martinez, and as they get to know each other, more of his colourful past slowly reveals itself – even as he continues to keep his long life secret from everyone except his best friend and confidant, Abe.

ETA: YIKES ON BIKES. This is kind of long. Longer than I intended at least. Well. I hope my three readers take something from it. 😛

I remember hearing about this show vaguely but I didn’t watch it until after it was cancelled. I decided to check it out because of Ioan Gruffudd who I’ve been a fan of for years. For whatever reason, America doesn’t seem to be working out for him, but he’s a good actor. And Forever was a very good show. Usually, if a show can make me cry, it’s in my good books. Except for Chicago Fire because…it’s basically a soap opera and I have an ongoing love/hate affair with it.

In many ways, I can see why this show was cancelled. It wasn’t ‘in your face’ exciting. There weren’t many cliffhangers that generated needless social media buzz. It was part procedural. The cast weren’t your conventional All-American shiny pretty people and…it wasn’t on CBS. It was called Forever! That’s not to say that the show was 100% original, but it is quite different from most shows I’ve watched in recent times.

The show is basically about a British doctor called Henry Morgan who’s immortal. He’s lived for two hundred years and never figured out how it is than he comes back to life in water every time he dies. Given his experience with death, he now works as a Medical Examiner in New York City and helps the NYPD with their cases. Each episode tells two stories – the death of a character in current time and also a story from Henry’s past. Now I usually hate flashbacks (because hardly does any show actually use them properly) but this show managed to switch between present day and the past so seamlessly that I was seriously impressed both with the writers and Ioan.

In the end, the writers managed to wrap up the main plot – another ‘Immortal’ who had lived for 2000 years (and was kind of twisted and warped from it) trying to find the cure to it/playing mind games with Henry. By the time I reached the penultimate episode (which is probably the best of the series), the writers managed to throw in a plot twist that I certainly did coming, in a way that was convenient but also very plausible. The finale was a weaker episode, but still good all the same and it’s a real pity that it ended.

There was a campaign to save the show, but like always, it didn’t amount to anything.

The only good thing about its cancellation is that it gave me a chance to watch it. There are a few shows right now that have one season under their belt that I’m reluctant to watch, not because they’re not good, but because TV is so stale these days. I can watch a show and be entertained for forty minutes but at the end of it I’m just kind of like, ‘what did I watch?’. It’s a bit like fast food. I can eat a few slices of pizza and because it’s mostly empty calories, I’d barely register it a few hours later. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t watch TV to find some kind of deep meaning in everything – quite the contrary. However, it doesn’t mean that I want to waste time on something that’s been created JUST to get X million people to tune in.

Point in case, Empire was one of the most successful shows during the last season and naturally there’s a lot of hype about season 2. Unfortunately for me, the show got a little ridiculous towards the end of the first season and given that it was only 13 episodes long, that doesn’t bode well. It was a fun, silly, soap opera show until the cartoonish mess we saw in the finale. Unfortunately, most writers don’t ever follow the ‘don’t believe your own hype’ rule and shows eventually turn into a convoluted mess. Give it a few seasons and the hype will be replaced with grim, online post-morterms.

Second point in case – comic book adaptations. I get it. The movies make a ton of money. There are a lot of comic book fans etc etc blah, blah, blah but much like procedurals (which people tend to hate), surely it’s going to get a little stale at some point. There are movies lined up for the next four years, probably more shows lined up. At what point will networks actually attempt to come up with some original programming? In terms of such shows, I’ve only ever regularly watched and enjoyed Smallville. I did watch most of Arrow‘s first season but it grew stale halfway through and – as much as I like Manu Bennett – I couldn’t continue. Gotham is probably the only comic affiliated show that I actually like at the moment and I get the feeling that they’ve strayed away from the source material quite a bit (well, judging by the disdain it’s met with on IGN at least). I have the first season of Daredevil and planned to watch it but the hype surrounding it was highly irritating so I’ve shelved it for now.

(I do want to watch Supergirl though, because it looks hilarious in a painfully bad way and, those are always the shows that surprise you. Sometimes.)

In a society where concentration and focus have been damaged by social media and technology, quality of music and TV shows will no doubt decrease because time is money. Each second costs something and networks have margins to meet or whatever. I get that. But would it kill them to at least spare some of the decent shows? It’s impossible for every single show to get ten million viewers, just like how poor album sales doesn’t necessarily mean that the album isn’t good, poor ratings don’t mean much. I say that because come pilot season, networks suddenly have millions to spend on shows that they have no intention of picking up anyway. There are literally hundreds (I think) of pilots produced every year and only a select number of slots to put certain shows in. Wasting money in order to make money is pretty stupid.

Another point is that the 22 episode seasons clearly don’t work any more. Why not give shows 13 episode series orders and then pick up more shows in order to make their advertising quota? I’m sure there’s a reason why but it doesn’t make any sense to give shows that many episodes and air them within a 33 week period with a sketchy schedule and THEN complain about ratings? Nor does it make sense to leave shows on air for longer than necessary *coughs* Supernatural *coughs* and expect people not to notice that the budget isn’t quite the same.

It’s all just frustrating really because I don’t need to be thinking about any of this when I sit down to watch a show. Yet, these days, the quality is so bad that it’s impossible not to go there. And the worst thing is that the media would have you think otherwise but they’re not exactly objective either. There are so many hyped up shows out there that ‘everybody’ loves. For instance – Games Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, True Detective, The Walking Dead etc. They generate tons and tons of articles while simultaneously drowning out talk about other shows. And unsurprising, social media popularity is also a thing and it is used to determine how well a show is doing. It’s not really the most accurate way of doing that, but nobody cares.

To sum it up, I’d be the loner, nerd chick who sat by themselves at lunch if we compared High School to TV viewing habits.

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4 thoughts on “Some thoughts on ‘Forever’ (ABC) and the fact that there are WAY too many substandard shows on TV at the moment

  1. Totes McGotes, 22-24 episodes a season is a rapidly aging model of television entertainment. Make it diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie! Kill it deeeeeeeeeeeead! Writing suffers because they’re producing for quantity not quality. Blegh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree! I also think the ‘filler’ episodes are deliberate as well — designed to potentially pull in new viewers but, those are now a very tired way of holding up the narrative. They won’t get rid of it though, especially now that on-demand services mean that less people watch TV and see all of the useless commercials, lol.

      Like

  2. Forever’s cancellation is why I don’t watch shows until their second season.

    What really grinds my gears is that a decent show like Forever gets cancelled by NCIS is unkillable.

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    1. I’ve started doing that as well now. Or I just watch them all in one go. There’s no point in watching shows as they air anymore. There’s too much network interference.

      NCIS gets craaazy ratings, so I see why CBS will never get rid of it. I agree though. It’s annoying. And you’d think that having a guaranteed money maker would at least give fresher shows some room to breathe, but nope.

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