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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
CHICAGO (AP) — Shots that protect against cervical cancer do not make girls promiscuous, according to the first study to compare medical records for vaccinated and unvaccinated girls.
The researchers didn’t ask girls about having sex, but instead looked at “markers” of sexual activity after vaccination against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. Specifically, they examined up to three years of records on whether girls had sought birth control advice; tests for sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy; or had become pregnant.
Very few of the girls who got the shots at age 11 or 12 had done any of those over the next three years, or by the time they were 14 or 15. Moreover, the study found no difference in rates of those markers compared with unvaccinated girls.
The study involved nearly 1,400 girls enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan in Atlanta. Results were published online Monday in Pediatrics.
Whether vaccination has any influence on similar markers of sexual activity in older teens wasn’t examined in this study but other research has suggested it doesn’t.
The study is the first to use medical outcomes data to examine consequences of HPV vaccination and the results are “comforting and reassuring,” said lead author Robert Bednarczyk, a researcher at Kaiser and Emory University. Both institutions paid for the study.
HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and also has been linked with anal and oral cancers in women and men.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend HPV shots for girls and boys at age 11 or 12, before they have ever had sex. Three doses are generally recommended over six months.
Some parents have raised concerns that the shots “are a license to have sex,” but the study bolsters evidence against that concern, said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. She was not involved in the study.
A CDC study published in January suggested that the shots don’t promote sexual activity among older girls, but it relied on self-reporting, at ages 15 to 24. That’s a less reliable method than the new study, Alderman said. She has been a paid speaker for Merck & Co., which makes one of the two HPV vaccines sold in the United States, but said she has no current financial ties to the company.
In the new study, at least 90 percent of vaccinated and unvaccinated girls did not seek pregnancy tests, chlamydia tests or birth control counseling, markers that were considered surrogates for sexual activity during up to three years of follow-up. Two in each group became pregnant. Chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease, was diagnosed in one vaccinated girl and three unvaccinated girls.
Three of the study’s four co-authors reported having done previous research funded by Merck.
American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org
HPV vaccination: http://1.usa.gov/1tgXtd
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner
"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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