When TV Series Stop On A Dime -- And No One's Got A Seat Belt On

This is the time of year when many TV shows come to a screeching halt; or, more drastically for some, as if a car traveling 70 mph hits a wall, with all the characters dying at the same time.

Lots of shows end this way each year. This year the new and the old -- "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "Jericho," and  "Veronica Mars"  -- stopped almost in mid-sentence.

This is the way TV ought to be. Because it reminds us once again that this is TV -- not a book, movie, or song, art forms that typically have a beginning, middle and end.

TV is a different, financially fragile art form, and is subject to the whims of the bean counters at network television. Even the great Aaron Sorkin takes a hit sometimes.

There is also just plain bad writing as well. Perhaps the boys on "Seinfeld" gave TV writing its real due:



Jerry: It's about nothing.
George: Absolutely nothing.
Jerry: So I go into NBC and tell them I've got this idea for a show about nothing.
George: We go into NBC.
Jerry: We? Since when are you a writer?
George: What writer? We're talking about a sitcom.

Which, of course, says something about the state of sitcoms these days.

But I digress.

For years television executives have feared a backlash from viewers when it comes to these short-lived, sudden-stopping shows. Yet, for the most part, we all come back again, tepidly, for a new show -- like noshing on a little piece of dessert, which can be justified as long as your friends also have their forks in the plate as well.

Since the advent of Internet TV, much has been made of the fact that many sudden-crashed shows might have a proper burial online -- that is, if someone can convince the producer and studio to fork up another $2 million to $4 million for one half-hour or hour episode of original programming.

One thing is certain:  Few advertisers will buy in. Perhaps somewhere in the distant future, maybe two million to four million viewers will each pay one dollar for that special viewing. But what does this get you. Better customer feeling toward a Warner Bros, NBC, Sony, or FX?

A broken TV show is not like a broken Krups coffee maker. The latter product is the one you spent your hard-earned money on. Consumers will demand that Krups make repairs -- but not always the TV creators.

If you can't brew the coffee on your hike for entertainment, there are many others back at the campsite who will.

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