Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. counterterrorism officials told lawmakers Thursday that uncooperative or less-than-capable local law enforcement in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia is slowing the search for suspects in the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya on Sept. 11.
Authorities in the region have not yet arrested many of the suspects the U.S. wants to question about the violent attack on the American compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, according to two U.S. officials briefed on a private House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, where counterterrorism, intelligence and law enforcement chiefs disclosed the information to lawmakers.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the information, said Egypt has arrested Egyptian Islamic Jihad member Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad for possible links to the attack, but key al-Qaida sympathizers remain free. They added that U.S. requests to go after the suspects unilaterally have also been rebuffed. The arrest was initially reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The officials said that Thursday’s hearing was intended to re-focus lawmakers’ discussions on the status of the investigation into finding those who carried out the attack and holding them accountable. Until now, discussions had largely focused on how the White House described the attack in its aftermath and whether U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice played down al-Qaida’s possible role by blaming it on an angry mob.
The hearing comes a week before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton briefs lawmakers on an independent review of the attack by an accountability review board, led by retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Officials expect that the review will focus on security assessments done of the consulate before the attack, as well as the actions of the diplomatic security agents during it.
Three U.S. officials say the security team did not fire a single shot, as a crowd of militants and looters overwhelmed the compounds of the local Libyan security team.
The State Department agents lost track of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens during the incident, in the heavy smoke after the militants set fire to the building. Stevens was overcome by smoke and was later carried out of the damaged building by Libyans who took him to a local hospital where he apparently died from smoke inhalation. His exit from the building was filmed on a camera cellphone and posted on YouTube. It later became part of a composite video crafted by the intelligence community to show lawmakers a real-time sequence of the attack, weaving it together with surveillance video from a CIA drone and from the consulate’s security cameras.
U.S. intelligence has blamed the attack on militants who are members of a number of different groups, from the local Libyan militia Ansar al-Shariah, whose members were seen at the U.S. consulate during the attack, to militants with links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb — core al-Qaida’s leading representative in the African region. The consulate’s cameras captured many of the faces of armed men in a mob, and some have been questioned, but most remain free.
U.S. intelligence efforts have been hampered by the evacuation of CIA officers from Benghazi in the aftermath of the attack.
Libyan officials could not be reached for comment.
AP writer Adam Goldman contributed to this report.
Dozier can be followed on Twitter (at)kimberlydozier.
"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.