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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Among the throngs visiting Washington for the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama was David Richardson, 45, of Atlanta, with his children, Camille, 5, and Miles, 8 — all bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens. Richardson said he wanted his children to “see history” firsthand and “witness that anything is possible through hard work.”
Vicki Lyons, 51, from Lakewood, Colo., who describes herself as “mostly Republican,” said she didn’t vote for Obama but called the inaugural experience “surreal” and “like standing in the middle of history.”
Said Lyons: “No matter who the president is, everybody needs to do this at least once.”
A first, of sorts, at this inaugural.
For the first time in more than three decades, there was neither a Clinton nor a Bush on either the departing or the incoming presidential ticket. Since 1981, every year until now has seen someone from one of the two famous political families front-and-center on the inaugural platform.
In 1981 and 1985, it was George H.W. Bush as vice president to Ronald Reagan, followed four years later by Bush as president. In 1993, with Bush looking on, Bill Clinton took the oath as president and again four years later in 1997. Then, a departing Clinton took to the inaugural platform in 2001 as George W. Bush was sworn in. Bush had a second inauguration in 2005, and then witnessed the inauguration four years later, in 2009, of Barack Obama.
While Bill Clinton may not have been in the front row during Obama’s second inaugural on Monday, Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, did join lawmakers and other dignitaries on the inaugural platform. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, also attended the ceremonies at the Capitol’s west front.
It didn’t all go off without a hitch.
Near the Washington Monument, people milled through the crowd of thousands to get a glimpse of the 57th presidential inauguration — only to find that the Jumbotron was cutting in and out and they couldn’t hear the speakers. Some in the crowd could be heard booing their disappointment.
Others didn’t make it to their destination.
Cheryl Tate, 52, of Flint, Mich., and her friend Karen Pugh, 43, gave up after a long walk from RFK stadium, where their tour bus had parked. “People keep telling us a few more blocks, a few more blocks,” Tate said.
Instead, they decided to turn around in hopes of finding a nearby restaurant to watch Obama on television.
Wondering why Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in Sunday for his second term hours before the president?
The early hour had to do with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is promoting her memoir, “My Beloved World,” and had to catch a train to New York to make a Manhattan bookstore appearance that afternoon.
The president and vice president typically are sworn in one after the other, just before noon on Jan. 20. — as Obama was at the White House by Chief Justice John Roberts. Biden was sworn in at 8:21 a.m. EST at his official residence at the Naval Observatory.
He escorted Sotomayor out immediately afterward and explained to more than 100 guests there as witnesses that he would be gone for a little while because he had to meet Obama for a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.
“I will be back, they tell me, in 40 minutes,” Biden said. “I hope some of you will still be here.”
Obama helped stain a bookshelf at an elementary school in southeast Washington over the weekend, then later marveled at how stylishly his wife carried out the community service project while he had a problem with achy knees.
For the project, Mrs. Obama wore a purple-and-black long-sleeved top, black bottoms and black boots, not typical wardrobe choices for a painter.
They had gone to Burrville Elementary School to help spruce it up, one of hundreds of events across the country during Saturday’s National Day of Service that opened inauguration weekend. Hundreds of volunteers joined the Obamas at the school.
“I hear reports that the very young people did some really good work and some of the older folks like me, who it hurt getting our knees kind of bending down a little bit, we were able to manage also, and somehow Michelle looked stylish the whole time she was doing it.”
And, how about those bangs?
President Barack Obama rendered his opinion on what he called the most significant event of inaugural weekend: his wife’s new haircut.
“I love her bangs. She looks good. She always looks good,” the president said Sunday night at a reception in Washington.
First lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new hair-do in a White House photo released Thursday, her 49th birthday.
Associated Press writers Josh Lederman, Alan Fram, Stacy A. Anderson, Kevin Freking and Jessica Gresko 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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