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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s prime minister resigned on state television early Tuesday, hours after soldiers who led a recent coup burst into his home and arrested him, in the latest sign of the volatile political situation in this once-stable nation in West Africa.
Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra addressed the nation, saying: “Our country is living through a period of crisis. Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation are hoping for peace.
“It’s for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government on this day, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. I apologize before the entire population of Mali,” he said.
Diarra appeared on TV at 4 a.m. local time dressed in a dark suit, his forehead glistening with sweat, his expression somber.
A police officer and an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press confirmed that the 60-year-old Diarra had been arrested at his private residence at around 10 p.m. Monday by soldiers loyal to Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the leader of the country’s recent coup.
Diarra was getting ready to leave the country for Paris and the plane that was due to take him was already taxiing at the airport. It’s unclear if the trip to France was planned, or if Diarra had gotten wind of the pending arrest and was trying to flee.
The security officials said the prime minister was forced into a car and driven to the Kati military camp, the sprawling military base where the March 21 coup was launched under the orders of Sanogo. For several weeks, tension has been mounting between the officers who led the coup and Diarra, the civilian prime minister they were forced to appoint when they handed back power to a transitional government.
The police officer, who was on duty Monday night at Bamako’s international airport preparing for Diarra’s departure for Paris, said group linked to the junta stormed the airport. “The plane that was to take the prime minister to France was on the point of departure,” said the officer. “It was stopped by people from the group Yerewoloton who invaded the airport. The people from Yerewoloton are still at the airport as we speak, searching cars.”
Yerewoloton is a violent citizen’s movement, which is believed to be backed by the junta. In May, they broke through the security cordon at the presidential palace. Once inside, they beat up the newly appointed interim president, 70-year-old Dioncounda Traore. The beating of Traore brought immediate international condemnation and it was after the May 21 incident that coup leader Sanogo was forced to retreat from public life. He has kept a low profile in recent months, emerging only occasionally to criticize a military plan by the nations neighboring Mali, which want to send 3,300 troops to take back Mali’s north from armed Islamist groups.
Diarra, an astrophysicist who previously led one of NASA’s Mars exploration programs, was initially seen as in step with Sanogo. Critics lambasted him for frequently driving to the Kati barracks to see the coup leader, apparently to seek his advice long after Sanogo was supposed to have handed power to civilians. In recent weeks though, Diarra has appeared to be taking stances that sometimes conflict with Sanogo.
Last weekend for example, Diarra helped organized a demonstration calling for a United Nations-backed military intervention to take back Mali’s north, which fell to Islamic extremists in the chaos following the coup.
On Monday at the United Nations, France circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize the deployment of an African-led force to oust al-Qaida-linked militants who seized Mali’s northern half. The United States, however, wants the troops to be trained first for desert warfare, U.N. diplomats said.
Experts on Mali have voiced skepticism over the military intervention, specifically because the plan initially put forward by the African Union gives a central role to the Malian military, which is still in the hands of Sanogo. African diplomats who were involved in the negotiations with Sanogo earlier this year, leading to the creation of Diarra’s transitional government, say the coup leader does not want foreign forces on Malian soil because it would dilute his power.
A spokesman for Sanogo’s junta reached early Tuesday said that Diarra was trying to flee to Paris. He said the soldiers arrested him because Diarra was “creating a blockage.”
“For several days now, Cheikh Modibo Diarra has mobilized his supporters and boycotted the national conference (currently being held to discuss Mali’s future),” said the spokesman Bacary Mariko. “And now he says he’s going to Paris for medical tests at the American hospital in Paris because he claims he is suffering from pneumonia. But we know better and realize that he is trying to flee in order to go and create a blockage in the Mali situation,” he said.
He explained further: “For several months now, Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra and the (interim) president of the republic have not been getting along. And Cheikh Modibo Diarra also doesn’t get along with Capt. Sanogo. It’s the reason why Mali’s army has taken things into their own hands and told Cheikh Modibo Diarra to resign for the good of Mali.”
Diarra’s demeanor, including his strained expression and the background against which he made the declaration, all suggest that the prime minister resigned under duress, and possibly made the declaration at the military barracks, rather than at the headquarters of the ORTM, the state broadcaster. The backdrop against which he spoke looked like a bare wall, rather than the professional studio of the national television station.
Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher for West Africa Corinne Dufka condemned the military’s intervention in the nascent transitional government, saying it fits with the pattern of abuse perpetrated by the soldiers ever since the coup eight months ago.
“This is the latest in a string of abuses perpetrated by soldiers loyal to Sanogo. They’ve arrested, beaten and intimidated journalists; tortured and disappeared military rivals; and now, apparently, arbitrarily detained the prime minister. None of these incidents have been investigated and those responsible appear to have been emboldened by the shameful lack of accountability,” said Dufka.
Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal. Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations also 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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