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Khan

Shows That Got BETTER Over the Seasons

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A Different World & Sex and the City own this thread.

I look back at SATC's first season and cringe at all the mistakes they made (following the horrible book too closely, having Carrie speak directly to the camera, characterizing Miranda as a one-dimensional shrew). Once they tossed all those pre-conceived standards out the window and decided to mine the greatness that they did have, it became a stellar show that I still miss to this day.

As for ADW, though the story of Debbie Allen being given free reign in transforming the sitcom from an indistinctive vehicle for departed Lisa Bonet (whose Denise was my favorite of the Huxtable kids) to the most successful college-based show of all time due to her generous integration of her own HBCU experiences into the writing and characterization has been mentioned many times over, it is worth mentioning again - especially since the gradual improvement from Season 1 to Seasons 2-5 is glaring.

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I wanted to agree with those who said Knots Landing - everything after season 2 was a huge step forward. I missed him sometimes, but Sid's death was one of the best things that ever happened to the show.


A Different World & Sex and the City own this thread.

I look back at SATC's first season and cringe at all the mistakes they made (following the horrible book too closely, having Carrie speak directly to the camera, characterizing Miranda as a one-dimensional shrew). Once they tossed all those pre-conceived standards out the window and decided to mine the greatness that they did have, it became a stellar show that I still miss to this day.

I preferred season 2 (although I mostly prefer anything before Michael Patrick King destroyed the show), but I liked parts of season 1 too. I think the spikiness of that first season sort of worked.

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Re: KNOTS -- There's a reason why Michael Filerman said his eyes glazed over when David Jacobs pitched him the show's original "'Scenes from a Marriage' x 4" concept. Every drama series, IMO, needs a little "glitz" or "trash" to keep itself going and reach mass audiences. Even "thirtysomething," which is what I think Jacobs had in mind for his show at the outset (although KL came first), had to get a little soapier as time went on. Frankly, if KL had remained as it was during that first or even second season, I think it would have been dead and forgotten by 1982, tops.

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Yep, it's true. For reasons I can't recall anymore, JoMarie Peyton (Harriet #1) was replaced on "Family Matters" with Judyann Elder. Needless to say, few, if anyone, appreciated the change.

Yep, i remember that. Unlike Fresh Prince where i think the show got better with "the new mom", by the time Judyann came on, Harriet has lost her swiftness. Of course by then it was all about Urkel. Remember that show started as a Harriet spin-off. She was the elevator lady on Perfect Strangers and then they gave her her own show.

A show like Dynasty went up and down in being good. It wasn't that great in the first season (not bad), and then Joan Collins came on and the fashion got better. I always thought it "jumped shark" in the final couple of seasons when Alexis lost her penthouse and got a room in the hotel. I think she gave up the penthouse when she took over the Carrington mansion but then when Blake got it back, she had no where to go. (although someone with her money could have bought her penthouse back or an even better one) so they moved her to the hotel.

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As for ADW, though the story of Debbie Allen being given free reign in transforming the sitcom from an indistinctive vehicle for departed Lisa Bonet (whose Denise was my favorite of the Huxtable kids) to the most successful college-based show of all time due to her generous integration of her own HBCU experiences into the writing and characterization has been mentioned many times over, it is worth mentioning again - especially since the gradual improvement from Season 1 to Seasons 2-5 is glaring.

Same. Not that S1 was AWFUL. I mean, it had its moments. It just lacked a strong "voice," if that makes sense. As well-received as Lisa Bonet (or "Sailor Moon," or whatever the hell her name is these days) was on "The Cosby Show," I don't think she was strong enough to support a series on her own.

Conversely, if anyone could have carried a "Cosby" spinoff, I think it could've been Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Especially when Theo became a teacher at that community center with all those kids.

Edited by Khan

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I like the first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show quite a bit, but I think after the first season they phased out the corny aspects of the 60s sitcoms and moved more into a new era. I love a lot of season 2, 3, and 5.

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"Corny aspects," asked the person who listed many sitcoms from the '60's (won't say which ones) on his FB favorites page. wink.png

Edited by Khan

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"Three's Company" is an example, I think, of a show that improved over the years in spite of itself. You might argue that the show was never the same without the Ropers or Chrissy -- and who knows, you might be correct. Remove the cast from the equation, though, and look at the actual writing -- the plots, the jokes and so forth -- and I think by the start of the "Terri Alden era," 3C's farce-based writing was some of the best on primetime TV.

Edited by Khan

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Yep, it's true. For reasons I can't recall anymore, JoMarie Peyton (Harriet #1) was replaced on "Family Matters" with Judyann Elder. Needless to say, few, if anyone, appreciated the change.

JoMarie was quite vocal about her unhappiness with the Urkel Show. FM was supposed to be about Harriet, Carl and their family when it was spun off from Perfect Strangers. After several seasons of being completely backburnered for King Nerd, she decided to quit. It was completely insulting that they recast her. I stopped watching FM by that point. If I'm wrong about her quitting, please let me know. It's just always been my understanding that this is how it played out.

"Three's Company" is an example, I think, of a show that improved over the years in spite of itself. You might argue that the show was never the same without the Ropers or Chrissy -- and who knows, you might be correct. Remove the cast from the equation, though, and look at the actual writing -- the plots, the jokes and so forth -- and I think by the start of the "Terri Alden era," 3C's farce-based writing was some of the best on primetime TV.

My favorite years of Three's Company included Teri. She was hilarious.

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On the subject of A Different World, I'm currently watching season 1 for the first time on Hulu and it's not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. I think overall Bill Cosby was too judgemental of Lisa Bonet, which is what led to her being spun off. I think Denise was perfect for the show, but I do agree she shouldn't have been the lead. As the season went on though, she was very much a supporting character. Initially it seemed like Jaleesa, Denise and Marisa Tomei's characters were the leads with Dwayne and Whitley supporting. As things progressed both of their roles were increased and if anybody, Whitley was the lead character. I think it's a damn shame they wrote Denise off. I think the reboot would've worked just fine with Denise on board.

My biggest problem with A Different World's first season are the Stevie and Lettie characters.

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Lisa Bonet got pregnant and Bill wasn't going to have a unwed mother on his show so she was going to leave regardless. It's not as if she was fired. The show's highest rated season coincidentally is the first season. I thank God she got pregnant because the show was bland before Debbie Allen became the executive producer.

Edited by Eric83

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"Corny aspects," asked the person who listed many sitcoms from the '60's (won't say which ones) on his FB favorites page. wink.png

I don't have a Facebook page so I think you confused me with someone else.

With that said, I do love a lot of 60s sitcoms. And I liked those aspects on MTM. I think that the show improved when they grew out of them and Mary became a little sharper-edged and less "spunky."

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Bill wasn't going to have a unwed mother on his show

Isn't he precious? nbe.jpgnbe.jpgnbe.jpg closedeyes.jpg ph34r.png

Edited by YRBB

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This is a great idea for a thread! I've always found that shows that take a season or so to find themselves tend to stay good for longer. If a show starts wonderfully I often see it having no idea what to do in season 2 onwards and many shows never recover (Heroes (although, wonderful is debatable), Desperate Housewives, Revenge, etc). Instead, it's worth sticking around some highs and lows in the beginning to see if the fine-tunes itself into something good or even great.

Most of the big soaps are obvious examples:

DALLAS -- Started off all right but its leap from the first season/miniseries to season 2 in terms of tone, pacing & plotting was gigantic and really commendable. It kept getting better leading up to J.R.'s shooting. After that it dipped but it did later mature into some really fantastically plotted soap (seasons 6, 7).

KNOTS LANDING -- I am a big supporter of the first three seasons (especially season three). KNOTS did some episodes on those three years that were never topped afterwards. But, as a whole, it could not survive the way it was. But that was KNOTS' magic: It could change/evolve/assimilate/expand over the years based on the times without losing what it was. It had its earthy late 70s era, its BIG, BOLD early 80s era, its late 80s period, early 90s... Which is why it got so much better starting with season four and kept it up (in various degrees of success) through 11 freaking seasons.

DYNASTY was the opposite -- It started off brilliantly, if non-commercially, but then got even better in season 2 when it found a way to change itself into something more successful. But after that, forget it. Each successive year was even worse than the last.

FALCON CREST got better in its second season, too.

MELROSE PLACE -- It started improving in late season 1 and progressively reached season 3 heights...

BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 -- Still watching, but I've seen enough of all its eras to know that the show became fantastic in the college/post-college era in a way that most fans refused to acknowledge.

FRIENDS -- Liked it from the beginning but, boy, did it mature to greatness around season 4/5 all through season 8.

CHEERS had some great stuff in season 1, 2 but it just kept getting better and better. I'm in season 5 now and hear that it's post-Diane years are a step up; can't wait to see that.

And I'm sure there's lots more :P

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"Three's Company" is an example, I think, of a show that improved over the years in spite of itself. You might argue that the show was never the same without the Ropers or Chrissy -- and who knows, you might be correct. Remove the cast from the equation, though, and look at the actual writing -- the plots, the jokes and so forth -- and I think by the start of the "Terri Alden era," 3C's farce-based writing was some of the best on primetime TV.

Oh god, I have to disagree here in the highest order! As much as I love TC, I've only recently begun to see just how much the writing changed over the years. The early seasons had a very nice balance of high comedy, farce, and sexiness. By the end, it was almost like a children's sitcom. It was just too much of a cartoon, especially Furley. It was just too over-the-top, which I usually love, but the vibe from the early seasons was just lost.

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