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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Tens of thousands of low-paid workers took to the streets on May Day to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions a week after a building collapse in Bangladesh became a grim reminder of the dangers of lax safety regulations in poor countries.
Laborers in Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines and elsewhere marched and chanted en masse Wednesday, sounding complaints about being squeezed by big business amid the surging cost of living. Asia is the manufacturing ground for many of the world’s largest multinational companies.
Thousands of garment factory workers in Bangladesh also paraded through the streets calling for safeguards to be put in place and for the owner of the collapsed building to be sentenced to death.
In Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, tens of thousands of workers rallied for higher pay and an end to the practice of outsourcing jobs to contract workers, among other demands. Some also carried banners reading: “Sentence corruptors to death and seize their properties” and protested against a proposed plan for the government to slash fuel subsidies that have kept the country’s pump prices among the cheapest in the region.
“It seems that the government is so stupid,” said a protester who identified himself only as Sarwan. “They don’t know, every time they talk fuel price increase, it will bring up the prices of other goods.”
A day earlier, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the country must reduce fuel subsidies that are a major drain on the budget. In 2011, the subsidy bill ran close to $20 billion, the same amount targeted for spending on infrastructure this year. The government is now trying to help offset the fuel increase among the poor who would be most affected by it.
In the Philippines, an estimated 8,000 workers marched in Manila to also demand better pay and regular jobs instead of contractual work.
“Wage increase, increase!” members of a coalition of workers’ groups chanted while holding streamers that also called for lower food and utility prices. “Trash contractualization.”
Some workers rallied outside the U.S. Embassy, torching a wooden painting stamped with the words “low wages” and “union busting” that depicted Philippine President Benigno Aquino III as a lackey of President Barack Obama.
Aquino on Tuesday rejected proposals that included salary increases and the exemption of workers’ bonuses from taxes. Instead, he announced plans to equalize government and private sector workers’ benefits, but also add a slight increase in contributions.
Workers’ Party chairman Renato Magtubo assailed Aquino for offering “scraps meant for slaves.”
Several thousand people in Hong Kong protested, including dockworkers who have been on strike for a month. They want better working conditions and a pay raise to make up for cuts in previous years.
And an estimated 3,000 people demonstrated in Singapore, where any form of public protest is rare, to rally against the ruling People’s Action Party along with rising income inequalities, high ministerial salaries and competition from foreign workers.
Violent clashes erupted in Turkey when May Day demonstrators tried to break through police barriers to reach Istanbul’s main hub, Taksim Square. Authorities reported 20 arrests and a few injuries. The square is a symbolic rally point for workers in Turkey, but police blocked it this year because of construction work.
More than 10,000 Taiwanese protested a government plan to cut pension payouts to solve worsening fiscal problems, saying it reflects a longstanding government policy to bolster economic growth at the expense of workers’ benefits and compromised workplace safety.
Analysts say the poor income level has forced many young Taiwanese to share housing with their parents and delay marriages.
In Cambodia, more than 5,000 garment workers marched in Phnom Penh, demanding better working conditions and a salary increase from $80 to $150 a month. About a half million people work in the country’s $4.6 billion garment industry that makes brand name clothes for many U.S. and European retailers.
The garment industry globally has come under fire since an illegally built eight-story building collapsed last week in Bangladesh, bringing down five garment factories inside it and killing more than 400 people. The collapse followed a garment factory fire there in November when 112 people died.
A loud procession of workers wound through central Dhaka, waving the national flag and chanting “direct action!” and “death penalty!” while one participant vowed the workers’ deaths would not be in vain.
“My brother has died. My sister has died. Their blood will not be valueless.”
Associated Press writers Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia; Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines; Annie Huang in Taipei, Taiwan; Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Heather Tan in Singapore; Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong; and Chris Blake and Farid Hossain in Savar, Bangladesh, 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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