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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Walking the corridors of Minnesota Vikings headquarters for the first time since he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the memories came flooding back for Cris Carter.
He came to Minnesota in 1990 with drinking and drug problems weighing him down, having been kicked to the curb by Philadelphia despite scoring 11 touchdowns the previous season.
The Vikings gave him some discipline and direction, without which he doesn’t believe he would have come close to putting together a career worthy of the Hall.
As he recounted his experiences in Minnesota, he spotted former Vikings part-owner Wheelock Whitney in the crowd and recounted how Whitney and former team counselor Betty Triligi helped him overcome alcohol and cocaine issues that essentially got him booted out of Philly.
“Personally what they did for my life, that changed my life,” Carter said on Thursday. “Besides my mother, there’s a lot of people that helped me out but there’s not a lot of people that can say that I wouldn’t have made the Hall without their involvement. But I can stand here today as a man to tell you if you wouldn’t have helped me that day when I came here, that second week in September, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Carter choked up several times while he reminisced on his time with the Vikings, who claimed him on waivers after Philadelphia cut him.
He said he had stopped using cocaine by then but was still abusing alcohol, and recalled the exact day — Sept. 19, 1990, — when Triligi challenged him to go a week without drinking.
“I haven’t had a drink since then,” Carter said. “I was just trying to make it through the week to survive really. That’s what I was really trying to do, just make it through one week and then eventually after surviving, I could feel my body starting to change and I could feel my ability starting to really, I could be as good as I really wanted to be. I upped my conditioning, I dropped my body weight, and then the rest was history.”
By his third season with the Vikings, Carter started to emerge as one of the best receivers in the game. He finished his career with 1,101 catches for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns in 16 seasons.
At the time of his retirement, most of his statistics were second on the career lists to Jerry Rice, but it took him five tries to finally gain entrance to the Hall.
“It’s the most frustrating thing for people to tell you you’re a Hall of Famer but you don’t have it,” Carter said. “To finally get in, man it’s really, really amazing.”
Carter also got emotional when thinking about his upbringing in a rough area of Middletown, Ohio. He attended Ohio State before being drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 1987.
“It’s 241 miles from the housing project I grew up in,” Carter said of Canton. “From that doorstep to George Halas Hall, it felt like 10 million miles because of the journey I had to get there. You don’t grow up in that little place like that and think you’re going to end up in Canton. You really don’t. For me, it’s a special meaning.”
What delayed Carter’s election was a voting block that is still trying to adjust to the changes in the game from a run-based league to a passing-based league.
He became eligible at the same time as Buffalo’s Andre Reed and Oakland’s Tim Brown did and had some difficulty getting clear of the logjam. Reed and Brown are still waiting.
“It’s supposed to be the best players, not the best players by position,” Carter said. “Eventually, they’ll work out. I can’t campaign for them because it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough. If you look at the people that didn’t make the finals this year, they could have gotten in the Hall. It’s going to be tough, but I’m so glad I’m not on that list with them.”
Carter will have his son introduce him at the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, in August, where he will go in with coach Bill Parcells, Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen, Baltimore Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden and defensive tackle Warren Sapp, along with senior selections Curley Culp and Dave Robinson.
“Every day I cry. Every day,” Carter said. “It’s overwhelming. It’s the most unbelievable thing that has ever happened to me. People tell you it’s going to be exciting and it’s going to be good, but they don’t really give it justice for what it means.”
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Online: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
"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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