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What is the deal with TV writers?

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posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 01:25 AM
Outside of a forum for imparting knowledge and exposing others to a wider world, TV is first and foremost a medium for entertainment. So why is it that so few TV shows are good?

In the last 25 years I have seen a wide range of crap hurled at the viewing audience by producers hoping that something will stick. Overall, most interesting premises seem to lack good consistent writing or a willingness by the population to tune in for a protracted period of time while characters become solidified by the actors and writers bringing them to life.

One of the most baffling examples was Jos Whedon's third try with Fox who seemed determined to back stab him every chance it got offering him a deal for a new series only to pull the plug before the show got it's legs or fully explored it's premise.
I'm talking about Dollhouse. Here was a novel idea (ala Manchurian Candidate on speed) where a woman was given a new personality (memory, skills, etc.) weekly in order to complete some task and further the agenda of some shadowy agency working behind the scenes. And we find out quickly that the shadowy network has an entire stable of these people available to them.
It was a carte blanche opportunity to write the main characters however the writers wanted every single episode, even writing them in contradictory ways that were against type because they DIDN'T HAVE a type. They could be anything week to week, as needed. All they needed to worry about were the overseer and programmer characters.

How could writers and the director lose focus on such a simple and easily manipulated premise to get this show cancelled?

Anyway that's the sort of thing I think about laying in bed when I can't sleep. Dollhouse was a great show.

I have seen so much crap offered to the TV using names from hit movies (and wildly changing the premises, in an attempt to garner interest), and so many show derivative of one another it's almost sickening.

Wayward Pines: confusing, apparently an anthology since season 2 looks nothing like season 1 (and the season 1 reveal was kind of a let down)

X-Files: came back and took a huge sad dump, why the bad writing?

Another Period: awful comedy with comedic actors who are much more clever in other shows

Heroes Reborn: terrible AND confusing

Minority Report: seriously?

Agents of SHIELD: tired of hoping for some big connection to the movies but all I get is sub-par villains and heroes (If you're going to do Inhumans show me Karnak, Crystal, or Medusa if you won't give me Blackbolt, but don't give me Mr Hyde and 1000 nobodies. Please give me some costumes so I don't have to guess who's who based on their secret identity names).

Agent Carter: Hayley Atwell is attractive but again the show went nowhere.

The Flash: The writing is super repetitive. How many times can Barry 90210 have a crisis of conscience or pine for his lost parents? (also can we have a central protagonist over the age of 30 please?). And again costumes for more bad guys please (a winter jacket is NOT a costume).

Legends of Tomorrow: Why is Rory stealing John Constantine's look and why did he assemble crappy characters like nasal sounding Capt. Cold and "White Canary" (who?), and the Atom? Why was Vandal Savage allowed to be played by anyone under 6 foot 5 inches? And why did they RUIN the origin story of 3 characters? Who would have known Heat Wave (who was played as a dumb ass, [and again, who?]) would become the most developed character on the show?

Supergirl: How many times can she accuse another person of shutting her out "because she's a girl"? She isn't 10, and this isn't baseball/wrestling/football tryouts.

I'll add more if I feel like it. . . . .

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 03:00 AM
a reply to: frostjon361
I can sympathize.
I loved bordertown but it got cancelled meanwhile the utterly craptastic Bob's burgers is still on the air.
I liked the Goodwin games but it got cancelled. I got asked to do Arbitron ratings and Nielsen ratings, did the Arbitron one but loveline got cancelled anyway, Stern moved to satellite radio. Didn't even do the Nielsen ratings.

Tv is pretty good where I live, it's poor so not many people can afford cable so the broadcast tv schedule is better filled than in richer bigger cities (I put in different zip codes on the tv guide app when I was thinking of moving, your local tv sucks compared to mine).

But networks listen to viewers. Just use the contact us comment box.

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 03:02 AM
a reply to: frostjon361

Everything has its day , TV has had its.
It's the same with the movie industry , low rent writing plastered with big budget effects to give audiences a short wow factor before fading into obscurity.

The Golden age of film and TV is over.

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 03:22 AM
a reply to: frostjon361

I like Wayward Pines a lot. The first season covered the entirety of the books, so the second season is new material and will look different. It was supposed to be a 1 season thing. Only fan reaction caused it to continue on.

Another Period is absolutely laugh out loud funny.

If you look, there is great TV. It looks sort of bleak in the summer, though. I just started watching "The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells" anthology. It's a Sky Tv production, so I have to watch it on, it's really good though.

I can't wait for Shameless, TWD and yet another season of Orange is the New Black (just binge watched the newest one).

The Blacklist , The Americans and A Penny Dreadful are very good. There is a canadian police show, 19-2 that should return for it;s new season soon that is incredible.

ABC cancelled an excellent Thriller called The Family on a was probably the best show that network had in years. That is one thing that makes me shake my head.

But I actually don;t have the time to keep up with all of the shows I do like.

edit on 14-7-2016 by reldra because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 04:39 AM
The simple answer is that writing good stories and creating interesting characters is a very difficult thing and only the best writers will create top notch shows. On top of that you also need good acting and good directing to make it watchable. There is no reason to expect every single show to be a masterpiece, but I think we've still had many decent shows in the last few years. Some examples: Better Call Saul, Person of Interest, The Blacklist, Hannibal, True Detective, The 100, Fargo, Dark Matter, Black Sails, Daredevil, Gotham, Jessica Jones, The Magicians, Ash vs Evil Dead, Mr. Robot. They are all pretty recent shows and I'd give them all at least an 8 or 9 out of 10. The shows you listed are fairly sub-par however I would give Wayward Pines about an 8 out of 10 because it's quite a unique show and they aren't afraid to take the story in unexpected directions. It's not at all confusing if you take the time to watch it properly, season 2 does follow on from season 1, just not all the characters survive season 1.
edit on 14/7/2016 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 05:00 AM
I take the complete opposite view. There is too much good TV these days. There are so many channels and streaming services offering original content. That is higher quality than at almost any other time in television history. In terms of writing directing and acting. I think people are just looking at old shows through nostalgic tinted glasses.

You just need to broaden your horizons. Most of the shows the OP listed are on network television. Which has been far surpassed by Cable and now streaming. The OP listed six super hero shows. So to the OP, if you have not yet watched Daredevil on Netflix. I would recommend checking it out along with the other Marvel shows on Netflix.

Also, Its easier than ever to access and watch TV from all around the world. As English speakers, we have a lot of options. Even the non English stuff mostly has subtitles.

edit on 14-7-2016 by karmicecstasy because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 03:12 PM
You're ignoring many other factors that go into whether or not it "makes it"....

Dollhouse was an excellent show (and who gets tired of Eliza Dushku in slutty outfits?)...but it was the DAY that killed it (9-10 on a Friday night) when it's key demo would be out starting the weekend.

Shows like The Dome and Wayward Pines all hinged on a reveal, so once the reveal is done, that's pretty much the end of the magic trick. You aren't going to stick around to see the aftermath....

The Heroes reboot was just based on a horrible premise that they just couldn't seem to escape from (the whole future plan and virtual world BS). This at least, WAS due to horrible writing, and even good acting from the cast couldn't salvage it.

Other shows just run their course, The Walking Dead is certainly on its last legs, even as good as it is.

Sometimes, it's just bad casting. Fear the Walking Dead is a good example here. Bad writing also contributes,
but this was SO miscast, that none of us really care if any of them live or die. I'm amazed it even got renewed. It won't make season 3 most likely.

There are some really good shows still though:

Big Bang Theory - TV's number one comedy for a reason. Solid cast, solid acting, and still unpredictable and original.

Game of Thrones - This season was better than ever.

Blacklist - A great show, though largely only due to Spader's charisma and a bit of decent writing.

Gotham - Actually a great show, with great characters and acting, and unpredictable as well.

Ash vs. the Evil Dead - Somehow, they completely captured the fun and horror of the movies. If you liked the movies, you'll love the show.

As another said, mostly, cable shows and other non-network sources are really the place to be for great shows these days.

X-Files had a combination of errors. To start with, it didn't seemed to be planned as a reboot (at a few episodes only). It seemed poised to kick off soon with two new investigators (which were Mulder and Scully clones). It may have worked if they gender swapped it, (the skeptic being the guy)...but then they still focused too much on Mulder and Scully. It was more like a fun homage than an effort at a new incarnation of the show.

posted on Jul, 14 2016 @ 05:26 PM
a reply to: frostjon361

Some days, I think they want only the bad shows on the air! Lost count of how many times I'll start watching a new show, really like it, and it's cancelled, so they can bring in some other show, that's just crap. Happens all the time. It's at the pint that I don't watch a lot of prime time stuff anymore. I won't even bother with new shows, at this point, unless they look seriously good, and even then, there is a distinct probability that they'll be cancelled.

Loved Moonlight - and it won #1 People's Choice award for new drama - one season, and cancelled.

Three Rivers - same star actor - very good, first hospital drama I have liked in ages, cancelled.

Unforgettable - loved that one, great stories, cancelled.

Intelligence - awesome stories, lots of things they could do, intelligent writing, cancelled.

A couple of shows did actually END, that I liked, but they are still gone. The Mentalist, and Person of Interest.

Maybe they are all on something?

posted on Jul, 25 2016 @ 11:40 PM
a reply to: frostjon361

Hi. I've worked on the special effects for 4 of the shows you listed.
I can't give you a complete answer because there isn't one.
The most I can tell you is it boils down to time and money.
This is complicated so bear with me.
The current television market is really now dived into two markets.
Old School over the air broadcast networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW etc.
and Pay services like HBO, Netflicks, Amazon etc.

The broadcast networks season runs from the fall, from mid September, to April or May the next year.
Usually a show will have full order of 23 to 26 episodes. Once a TV show gets going a new episode will usually air every week. The show your going to watch in October is probably currently shooting now.
If everything goes right each episode may only have 6 to 8 weeks to Shoot, process, edit, ad vfx, sound etc. Sometimes it's more like 3 or 4 weeks or less.
The show episodes are usually known going into a season but things happen and stuff has to change on the fly. Sometime in mid season the producers or network will decide “Hey this isn't working, let change something to get the audience numbers back up”.

On top of this you have the constraints imposed by the producers, the networks and the advertisers.
Lets face it TV shows are really made to sell stuff. They are designed to hopefully keep you in a seat so the advertisers can whack you over the head with their product. Thus each show is designed for a certain demographic audience. The audience for a super hero show, males from 20 to 30 years old, is not the same for a mystery/crime show, usually Females 35-55 years old.
So the writing has a lot of constraints on even starting out. The you add in budgets, a tight schedule and bad decisions made at the last minute and you end up with a bit of a mess.
Nobody sets out to make a bad tv show. Remember if the show is good everyone stays employed, if not they are all out looking for a job.
On broadcast network the shows are also constrained to an extant by Network standards and practices.
Thus the stuff Game of Thrones gets away with will never happen on a network TV show.

Also shows like Game of thrones, Walking dead etc are not bound by the same schedule network TV has. So they can spend a bit longer planning and working on each episode. Thus the quality of the shows can be a little better. Sometimes that is, A&E cut the budget for Walking dead season 2 in half. That's what everyone ended up sitting around a kitchen table or wandering around in the woods for the whole season.

The other major problem right now is is the demand for content. There used to be 3 Main networks in America. They stopped broadcasting at midnight. I'm old enough to remember when the national anthem played and then the TV turned to static. That means they only had to fill 57 hours of programming a week. Now they have a few hundred channels running 24 hours a day.
Thus a lot more stuff is getting made to fill that demand. Some good, some not so great.

About shows getting canceled. If a shows Nielsen rating numbers fall below a certain percent the show gets canned. Why? Because the advertising people that are really paying for the show are not getting their moneys worth. No matter how good or bad the show is or how much you like it always comes down to numbers. If no one is paying for the advertising time for a show the show gets canned. So every time you skip a commercial your actually slowing killing your favorite show.

Which leads to another problem. TV as you know it is dying and no one is exactly sure what to do.
In the old days you got off work, went home, had dinner and watched tv. If you wanted to see a particular show you had to watch it when it aired. Now people are binge watching without ads. This means the money that used to go into a single show is now being spread over a wider area. Meaning less money to make shows and producers less inclined to take risks and they end up going for the lowest common denominator.

Probably doesn't answer your question but maybe it will help you understand a little about whats going on behind the scenes some.

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