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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The heads of the three parties in Greece’s new coalition government are to meet again Wednesday to try and agree on further austerity cuts strenuously demanded by the country’s bailout creditors.
Despite two meetings in less than a week, conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and junior coalition party chiefs have not finalized new politically costly measures intended to save €11.5 billion ($14.13 billion) in 2013 and 2014.
After the second meeting Monday, Samaras’ partners played down the need for a swift decision, saying that coalition leaders agree on Greece’s overall strategy.
That is unlikely to appease the debt-crippled country’s creditors, who have an inspection team in Athens to pick over the Greek austerity program. If their report is negative, the vital rescue loans will stop, and the country will go bankrupt and may have to ignominiously exit Europe’s common euro currency unleashing deep financial and social turmoil.
Chief inspectors from the so-called troika — the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — held new talks with Samaras early Tuesday.
A laconic government statement only said that the meeting served “to provide clarifications on certain economic matters.”
The new government, formed in June after two inconclusive national elections, has pledged to honor earlier Greek promises for further cutbacks to tame the country’s bloated budget deficit. Athens has also committed to reform its inefficient, well-staffed public sector, privatize state assets and fully open protected professions to competition.
The three-party coalition has said it wants a two-year extension to the implementation deadline, to 2016, due to a punishing recession expected to reach a cumulative 20 percent since 2008.
But the austerity and reform program is well off track due to earlier foot-dragging, half-hearted implementation and three months of political inertia forced by the two elections.
Greeks have been clobbered with repeated income cuts and tax hikes over the past 2 ½ years, in exchange for EU and IMF rescue loans.
The €11.5 billion cutbacks are expected to include new cuts in pensions and health spending — a hard sell to an austerity-weary population that in June came close to electing a radical left party pledging to tear up the country’s bailout commitments.
That is creating cracks in Samaras’ uneasy coalition. Neither Socialist PASOK nor the moderate Democratic Left appears eager to sign off on the entire austerity package, despite broad agreement on many of the measures.
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who as former finance minister agreed on all the austerity pledges, told party lawmakers Tuesday that talks with creditors “cannot focus on one issue, such as the famous list of measures worth €11.5 billion.”
He insisted that PASOK would continue to support the government.
Derek Gatopoulos contributed
"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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