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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — When Dusty, a 19-month-old black Labrador, walked past a pipe full of marijuana during a recent police search of a house, he was doing exactly what his handler hoped.
The newest drug-sniffing dog on the police force in Bremerton, near Seattle, is one of a few police dogs in Washington state that are not trained to point out pot during searches. Other police departments are considering or in the midst of re-training their dogs to ignore pot as well, part of the new reality in a state where voters last fall legalized marijuana use.
“We wanted to train our dog on what was truly illegal substances, that would be heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine,” said Dusty’s handler, Officer Duke Roessel, who added that Dusty nabbed five pounds of meth during that recent search.
Police departments in Bremerton, Bellevue and Seattle, as well as the Washington State Patrol, have either put the dogs through pot desensitization training or plan not to train them for marijuana detection.
The law decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of the drug for individuals over 21 years old. It also barred the distribution and growth of marijuana outside the state-approved system.
Police say that having a K-9 unit that doesn’t alert to pot will lessen challenges to obtaining search warrants because the dog won’t be pointing out possible legal amounts of the drug. Traditionally, dogs are trained to alert on the smell of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and cocaine. They can’t tell which one it is or how much of each there is.
In December, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys told officers in a guidance memo that dogs that alert on pot face limitations when a search warrant is sought but those are “not fatal to a determination of probable cause.”
The group instructed officers to point out that the dog was trained to smell pot and how that is relevant to other information when they seek a warrant, and that a “narcotics-trained canine’s alert will still be relevant to the probable cause equation.”
In Pierce County, however, prosecutor Mark Lindquist said authorities are being cautious about the new law because judges might excise the dog sniff from their analysis of probable cause. He’s also not convinced dogs can be re-trained. “We’ll need new dogs to alert on substances that are illegal,” he said.
In January, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission removed detecting marijuana from its canine team certification standards. The change doesn’t prohibit trainers from doing so, but it’s not required anymore.
But some police departments aren’t making any changes. And some observers say that a state Supreme Court decision in 2010 in which the justices sided against medical marijuana patients who argued police officers no longer had probable cause to immediately arrest or investigate due to the legalization of medical pot.
Last fall’s legalization law “just made one ounce not a crime for adults. That means that any amount over an ounce is still illegal, growing marijuana is still illegal, selling marijuana is still illegal, passing a joint to somebody is still illegal,” said medical marijuana advocate and attorney Douglas Hiatt.
For different reasons, dog trainer Fred Helfers of the Pacific Northwest Detection Dog Association agreed with Hiatt.
But having spent 20 years as a narcotics investigator, Helfers said departments who abandoned pot training are having a “knee-jerk” reaction. He said they may miss actual crimes being committed. “What about trafficking? What about people who have more than an ounce?” he said.
Nonetheless, Helfers is helping departments who want to go through the “extinction” training, which he said is a common method to change what substances dogs alert to. It takes about an initial 30 days plus every day reinforcements to modify the dog’s behavior.
“Overall, I think there’s still a large amount of agencies on a wait-and-see approach with their dogs,” Helfers said.
Manuel Valdes can be reached at http://twitter.com/ByManuelValdes
"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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