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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea sharply escalated the rhetoric against its southern rival, claiming it will soon conduct “special actions” that would reduce South Korea’s conservative government to ashes within minutes.
Monday’s threat from the North’s military leadership comes amid concerns that North Korea may be plotting another provocation in the wake of an unsuccessful rocket launch condemned by the U.N. Security Council as a violation of a ban against missile activity.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged North Korea to refrain from “further provocative measures,” telling reporters in New York late Monday that such actions “will not be desirable for the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”
North Korea characterized the April 13 rocket launch as a failed bid to send a satellite into space — not a disguised test of missile technology as Washington and Seoul claim. Two days after the attempt, Pyongyang unveiled a new long-range missile at a military birthday parade for late President Kim Il Sung.
There are new concerns that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test as it did after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009. South Korean intelligence officials say recent satellite images show the North has been digging a new tunnel in what could be preparation for a third atomic test.
On the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, a military guide told The Associated Press that he believes his country needs atomic weapons to defend itself against the threat of attack from the U.S.
“Nuclear weapons are not the monopoly of the United States,” Lt. Col. Nam Dong Ho said. “It’s my personal opinion, but I think we’ll continue to conduct nuclear tests.”
On Monday, the military warned in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency that it would launch “special actions” soon against the South Korean government and conservative media.
For days, North Korea has railed against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and conservative South Korean media for criticizing its rocket launch and the celebrations of the centennial of Kim Il Sung’s birth. But the military message, attributed to the “special operation action group” of the Korean People’s Army’s Supreme Command, was unusual in its specificity.
“Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style,” it said.
The threat comes as North Korea’s new commander in chief, Kim Jong Un, makes a show of support for the “military first” policy championed by his late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. North Korea marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of its army Wednesday.
A South Korean Defense Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with departmental rules, said no special military movement had been observed in the North.
There also was no outward sign of tension on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone. At Panmunjom, small groups of tourists were touring the “peace” village and the buildings where the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953.
Seoul expressed worry that the threats were hurting relations.
“We urge North Korea to immediately stop this practice,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk told reporters, according to the ministry. “We express deep concern that the North’s threats and accusations have worsened inter-Korean ties and heightened tensions.”
In November 2010, after issuing a warning to the South Korean government, North Korean troops showered artillery on a front-line island in disputed western waters held by South Korea. The attack killed four people, including two civilians.
However, it is unlikely that North Korea would launch a large-scale military attack against South Korea, which is backed by nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South, said Kim Young-soo, a professor at Sogang University in Seoul.
Late Monday, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of slander and of spearheading the campaign of criticism of its rocket launch. The launch prompted the U.S. to halt a Feb. 29 deal to provide Pyongyang with much-needed food aid in exchange for a moratorium on nuclear and missile activity.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said North Korea “needs to understand that it’s not going to achieve anything but further isolation and pressure by threats, by launches, by any of this.”
Associated Press writers Youkyung Lee and Jiyoung Won in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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