Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
Farewell, Rick Perry! We’ll miss you, those of us out in fake America, unless Texas is fake America, because of the whole Republic thing, in which case you will be missed in all the various Americas. Because once you are done as governor of your massive, slightly ridiculous oil-soaked state, you will pretty much be done.
Perry is not going to seek a fourth term as governor of Texas, a high-status, low-authority gig that he has worked at longer than anyone else in history. The next governor will likely be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (Stu Rothenberg is keeping the position listed as “Safe Republican”).
Perry isn’t just going to go away, or at least he doesn’t intend to. He is not going to put on a stupid hat and retire to a ranch that was until very recently named something unspeakably awful. He is going to run for president. Because once a sufficient number of people have convinced an egomaniac that he would be a very good president, it’s hard for that egomaniac to let go of that dream, even after a bunch of voters do everything they can to discourage it.
In 2011, we in the rest of America were told to look out for Perry, that he was savvy, a brilliant politician, and that he’d be totally irresistible to the electorate once he made his inevitable decision to run for president. He turned out to be a dunce, completely incompetent at basic tasks like “debating” and “public speaking.” Maybe it was pain meds (but then, who decides it’s a good idea to jump into a national race while you’re on pain meds?), but either way the last presidential campaign was a disaster for the Perry brand. No one in 2016 will be particularly frightened of him, and he also probably won’t have the luxury of running against a field made up entirely of clowns and a front-runner no one in the party actually liked.
He’s amiable, decent-looking, and right-wing enough to suit the modern Republican Party, but he is also a bit of an idiot and nothing about him appeals to anyone outside his state. Republicans aren’t interested in him anymore, even in Texas. Public Policy Polling (a liberal shop, but still) has Hillary Clinton beating Perry 50 to 42 in a potential presidential contest. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Texas Republicans preferring Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul over their finally outgoing governor. And if they don’t want him there’s no reason to suggest Republicans anywhere else will want him. “Vote for your dumb right-wing dad” won’t work any better in 2016 than it did in 2012.
Still, Perry’s decision to join Texas Republicans in provoking a big fight over abortion access does make a bit of sense in this light: He, I guess, wants to be 2016′s Rick Santorum, the choice of the fundamentalist set who don’t necessarily like the recent rhetorical ascendency of pseudo-moderation and pseudo-libertarianism in the GOP. Rick Santorum still might want to be the Rick Santorum of 2016, of course, but he also might be too busy making Christian movies. (Though none of the major 2016 Republican front-runners, with the possible exception of Jeb Bush, are remotely “moderate” on abortion access, it should be pointed out.)
It is always a happy day when the political careers of mediocre right-wing hacks like Rick Perry come to an end, even if it is by choice and not a forced resignation following a humiliating scandal or exposure of criminal activity. Texas will probably be better off without Rick Perry, even if the next guy is an asshole (and he is probably going to be an asshole), and Rick Perry will get to see his dream end in tears once more in 2016, at which point his only hope to remain in elected office will be a congressional seat or something. Though obviously he will also make a great deal of money “consulting” for some awful rich person or another, so it’s not all good news.
"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.
Alex Pareene surveys the burgeoning and bloated world of political news and opinion and explains the day's most essential story in Opening Shot, posted by 8:30 a.m. each weekday. Bookmark this page; follow @pareene on Twitter.