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Pariah

Where Modern TV Series Have Grown the Beard

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Intended as point/counterpoint to Cassandra's "Where Modern TV Series Have Jumped The Shark" thread, this thread discusses when things really came together for a television series. It talks about when a series started to really go right.

 

The allusion, obviously, is to when Commander Will Riker started Season Two of Star Trek: The Next Generation with his now-iconic beard. Season One of ST:TNG was, frankly, mostly awful. Sure, there were a few good episodes amongst the thinly-veiled Original Series remakes, the ham-handed political commentaries, the exploits of Wesley Crusher, and the ludicrous attempts to establish the Ferengi as serious villains. But the series really started to take off in the second season. By the end of that season, hits were much more common than misses.

 

So, when did your favorite television series turn the corner and really find its stride?

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My example is Stargate SG-1. Most of the first season consisted of monster-of-the-week shows and Trek knockoffs, with the occasional attempt to make Carter into a straw feminist. But the last two or three episodes, when the team basically goes rogue in order to keep Apophis from invading or destroying the Earth, is where the show really struck its trademark balance between drama and understated humor. Watching Daniel take down bad guys with an automatic rifle is not something you really could have imagined in the first five or six episodes of the show.

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Babylon 5 really took off in the second series when Sinclair was replaced by Sheridan. It just seemed to galvanise everything. That or when Morden came onboard and made offers to the ambassadors.

 

The X-Files. Although the Pilot and Deep Throat were strong, it was not until Ice that we had another really gripping story. The fact that there were several capable support actors in it helped but the script was really strong as well.

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10 hours ago, Pariah said:

Intended as point/counterpoint to Cassandra's "Where Modern TV Series Have Jumped The Shark" thread, this thread discusses when things really came together for a television series. It talks about when a series started to really go right.

 

The allusion, obviously, is to when Commander Will Riker started Season Two of Star Trek: The Next Generation with his now-iconic beard. Season One of ST:TNG was, frankly, mostly awful. Sure, there were a few good episodes amongst the thinly-veiled Original Series remakes, the ham-handed political commentaries, the exploits of Wesley Crusher, and the ludicrous attempts to establish the Ferengi as serious villains. But the series really started to take off in the second season. By the end of that season, hits were much more common than misses.

 

So, when did your favorite television series turn the corner and really find its stride?

 

I'll go you one better and say that ST TNG got its beard in season 3 when Gates McFadden returned. You might say season two was a 'three day growth'. :snicker: 

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1 hour ago, Pariah said:

The return of Gates McFadden was most welcome. Dr. Pulaski was...suboptimal.

 

They wanted a female McCoy to bounce off Data in a Spock stand in. Problem there? Spock gave as good as he got and banter aside both men clearly respected each other and even kinda sort of were friends.

Pulaski going after Data was more like some stranger coming in and kicking a puppy that couldn't fight back. Data could claim he didn't have feelings to hurt, but we were insulted on his behalf. Add that and her moments of disregard for Picard and it was clear the writers and director had missed the mark.

 

As a fan of the character of Riker, the growing the beard trope tickles me greatly. 

 

For examples..

I liked farscape, but I think the introduction of Scorpius really got it going.

 

Hardly modern I guess, but MASH for me really picked up with Potter and WInchester joined on

 

Season two of the Justice League cartoon really revved things up for me.  I liked Season one, but season two improved it dramatically... I guess we could give credit to Darkseid- he'd assume credit for greatness was his anyway

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Starlord said:

When Avery Brooks shaved his head on DS9.

 

Sisko's promotion to Captain, Worf's reassignment to the station, and the coming of the USS Defiant all made DS9 a better show.

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12 minutes ago, Pariah said:

Potter, BJ, and Winchester were vastly superior to Blake, Trapper, and Ferret-Face. The best thing Col. Blake ever did on the show was the way he died.

 

Potter made for better TV watching.  Blake was true to the original book and story: that one quite reasonable way to endure the madness of war is to become mad yourself in certain ways.  That was the whole point of the character in book and movie, but it can't really stand up in an extended TV series.  So from the point of view of TV, you're correct about Blake.  But for those of us who cue off the earlier work and its fundamental theme ... no, it would have been more appropriate if the TV series had ended with Radar reading the telegram in the operating room.

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The problem with Trapper is that he was essentially Hawkeye-lite.

 

I enjoyed Frank Burns for what he was and I don't think Winchester would have been as interesting and impactful as a formidable foil if the inept and helpless Frank Burns hadn't come before him.

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I actually have some respect for the now late Larry Linville who played Frank Burns. He knew that Frank had hit a dead end as a character, and was, I have heard, the only only regular to have left the show and not really regretted it even years later.  I think it's partially because of his awareness that the show did improve. Frank wasn't allowed to really grow, so a path was cleared for Winchester who definitely was.

 

Blake, I liked. Decent Doctor, incompetent as a leader... and yet a good man drafted along with the rest of them. I liked Potter more mind you and felt he opened the interactions as the face of a competent regular army officer.

 

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5 hours ago, Hermit said:

As a fan of the character of Riker, the growing the beard trope tickles me greatly. 

 

I'll counter-point that:  I never liked Riker, especially after he allowed Ferengi ... Ferengi! ... to steal the Enterprise, and then later when he ran the Enterprise into a planet.  Never give this guy command of your starship.  But I still like the use of his beard for this thread.

 

5 hours ago, Hermit said:

For examples..

I liked farscape, but I think the introduction of Scorpius really got it going.

 

I loved Farscape and I agree, it was a bit uneven until Scorpius showed up.

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I would have to add Smallville to this list.

 

The first season was largely freak-of-the-weak encounters, but by season 2-3 the bromance between Lex and Clark was epic.

 

Then of course the series stayed about 3 seasons after it should have wrapped up.

 

Still one of my favorite super hero series.

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22 hours ago, death tribble said:

The X-Files. Although the Pilot and Deep Throat were strong, it was not until Ice that we had another really gripping story. The fact that there were several capable support actors in it helped but the script was really strong as well.

 

I'd say that Squeeze (e3) was the first standout episode (before Ice, e8).

 

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