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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Dale Fjordbotten is a proud “My Little Pony” fan, with the shiny blue body suit and yellow lightning bolt, blue wings and blue tail to prove it.
Like many “Bronies” — boys and men who like the cartoon “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”— the 25-year-old college student turned out over the weekend for “BronyCon Summer 2012″ at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, which drew 4,000 men, women, boys and girls, many in colorful wigs and costumes.
“I thought about what people would say. ‘It’s creepy. It’s weird. It’s a … show for little girls,’” said Fjordbotten, from Staten Island, N.Y. “It’s just a great show … the story line, the plot, the beautiful animation.”
Bronies say they’re a misunderstood lot who’ve gotten a bad rap from the media. They’re all about the show, friendship, love and tolerance, and they have no bad intentions, they say.
“I discovered that there’s nothing to be ashamed of being a Brony,” said 19-year-old James Penna of Mastic in Long Island, N.Y. “People are into what they’re into.”
Outside the convention center, young men danced and sang along with songs from My Little Pony cartoon that blasted from loud speakers as a video screen on a large truck showed the show’s characters. One observer said it almost felt like a Grateful Dead concert.
Inside, vendors sold stuffed ponies, pony accessories, pony signs, pony hats and just about every pony item imaginable. Stars who do the show’s voices signed autographs and gave speeches.
Staff appeared to be a little overwhelmed at times. It was just over a year ago when BronyCon attracted about 100 people to some meeting rooms in New York City. Now there are thousands of Bronies across the country.
Hasbro released the first My Little Pony toys in 1983, and they led to television specials, a film and the first TV series from 1986 to 1987.
The brand stuck around through the years. But along came animator Lauren Faust, who was hired by Hasbro and sparked new life to My Little Pony when she created the “Friendship is Magic” series.
Faust had worked on “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” before dreaming up the land of Equestria, where My Little Pony characters like Twilight Sparkle, Apple Jack, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie get into all kinds of adventures.
Faust told The Associated Press at BronyCon on Saturday that she never imagined the show would be such a hit with teenage boys and young men. She said her main target was little girls, but she hoped to draw in moms and perhaps some boys with strong characters and compelling story lines.
“We live in a society where saying that something is for girls is the equivalent to saying that something is stupid, or saying that something isn’t worthwhile,” Faust said.
“I think that’s awful and I think that kind of attitude needs to be changed,” she said. “And these men are doing it. … They’re proud that they’re forward-thinking and modern enough to look past this misogynistic attitude.”
Faust said she, like the Bronies, is disturbed at the negative images some people have about men who like the show.
“There are a lot of people who when they first hear about men watching a show for little girls, they’re taken to a creepy place,” she said. “They think there’s something wrong with that, something devious about it. I think that’s unfortunate.
“I don’t think you have to have bad intentions to like little girls or to like the things that they like,” Faust said. “And it’s upsetting to me that people jump to those conclusions. I think it’s unfair to men and I think it’s unfair to girls and women.”
To set the record straight about Bronies, Faust, John de Lancie and others are producing a documentary that filmed over the weekend at BronyCon. De Lancie is the voice of Discord on “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and is perhaps best known for playing “Q” on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Zac North traveled from his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, to be with fellow Bronies in New Jersey this weekend. He dressed as his favorite character, the antagonistic Discord, wearing a hooded and multicolored costume complete with a dragon tail, since Discord is a pony-dragon hybrid.
Why does he like the show?
“It’s colorful and innocent, which is something I don’t have in my life,” the 26-year-old Sam’s Club worker said. “I like the community away from the show.”
Twenty-year-old My Little Pony fan Gabby Pantaloni of Hershey, Pa., said she was kind of shocked that so many guys like the show, as she stood in a line at BronyCon to get her picture taken with other enthusiasts dressed like her favorite character Rarity.
“After watching the show, I could see why anyone of any age would like it,” she said. “I think it just makes us all feel like kids again. Some of us are afraid of growing up. We’re all just kids at heart.”
"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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