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A question of balance?

My RL beta and I were chatting about House recently and came up with a theory about why our favorite shows eventually went downhill. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, and now House all started out strong by exploring the balance and conflicting demands of life and work, whether that was battling the forces of darkness, working 24/7 to push a political agenda, or attempting to diagnose the patients that no one else could save. Towards the end, though, that balance was lost. Life became wholly consumed by work, or vice versa. As a result, something essential was sacrificed - the friendships, the complex political issues, the medicine.

In my opinion, Buffy only suffered one bad season (its last). I'm really starting to hope that the same is true for House. What I don't want to see is years of staggering on stubbornly despite dismal ratings as one key actor after another deserts a sinking ship (*cough* The X-Files *cough*).

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jezziejay
Mar. 7th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
I think you've got it right - often when shows begin, it takes a while to get the 'balance' right, but ultimately it swings away too much from the original format - at the expense of credibility and charcterisation.

My show used to be Criminal Intent - I loved how the crimes were solved, how well Goren and Eames worked together, and how their personal lives were tantalisingly mentioned but never explored in depth. It was implied that they were interesting and complicated, but it was left for the viewer to imagine what went on when they weren't in work.

But then, it all became too much about Goran's personal life...and this is going to sound very harsh, but they kind of turned him into a loser. I began to find him 'pathetic' but not in a sympathetic way. Then so many cases became about his mother, his brother, his mentor and his nemesis...and it became ridiculous.

The one show that I always loved was ER. I think it was the often frenetic cast turn over that helped its longevity. It never seemed to become stale and I think they managed to keep the balance between life inside and outside of the hospital just perfectly. I was actually gutted when it ended - but that's when I really began to get into House.
flywoman
Mar. 8th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
Your point about cast turnover is an interesting one. I think this was largely what made X-Files totally tank, but maybe because the "personal" aspect centered so much on the dynamic between the two leads. With an ensemble cast, there could be a lot more potential for keeping the show fresh by bringing some new characters in and rotating others out. Buffy also did this very successfully, in my opinion, although a few core characters remained throughout the series.

I think this was what the House producers were trying to do at the S3/S4 transition; unfortunately (much as I love the original Cottages), they couldn't quite cut the cord with the old team members, which made the supporting cast feel kind of bloated and unwieldy. (Although I guess killing off my two favorite new characters took care of that.) They also obviously brought Masters in because they thought the team needed some fresh blood; too bad most fans will be glad to see her go - who would have thought I'd find myself missing Thirteen??
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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