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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
CONORD, N.H. (AP) — Federal officials preparing to sell the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons can’t guarantee that explosives and other booby traps aren’t hidden on the 103-acre spread.
In fact, they will openly warn bidders that land mines might be planted throughout Ed and Elaine Brown’s bucolic property in the small town of Plainfield. And they say prospective buyers won’t be allowed on the grounds until they submit a winning bid that frees the government of liability for dismemberment or death.
“It’s going to be a very interesting sale,” said Chief U.S. Deputy Marshal Brenda Mikelson, who’s in charge of the auction.
The Browns, who do not recognize the federal government’s authority to tax its citizens, were in a nine-month standoff with authorities in 2007 after they were sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. U.S. marshals posing as supporters arrested them peacefully.
They were convicted in 2009 of amassing weapons, explosives and booby traps and of plotting to kill federal agents who came to arrest them.
Ed and Elaine Brown, now in their 70s, are serving sentences of 37 and 35 years respectively.
Mikelson said she has contacted numerous federal agencies that have explosive detection equipment and dogs, and none could ensure a clean sweep of the property, which is set back from the road and includes acres of storm-damaged trees and other natural debris.
“With the size of the property, there’s no way to search it and have any guarantees,” Mikelson said.
However, the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been searched extensively and are deemed free of improvised explosive devices and other booby traps, Mikelson said.
Federal marshals say they are still hammering out the language of the disclaimer and the auction won’t take place before September.
Also being auctioned is Elaine Brown’s dental office in West Lebanon in the heart of the retail hub of New Hampshire’s Upper Valley region.
That commercial property has its own set of complications involving the disposal of patient records to protect their privacy, but it isn’t considered potentially dangerous.
By federal court order, the properties must be sold as is. Minimum bid for the Plainfield compound is $250,000, while the Lebanon office must sell for at least $507,500.
The court has ruled that the Browns and any heirs have no claims to the properties or any assets from their sale.
While the Browns kept federal marshals at bay, they welcomed a parade of anti-tax and anti-government supporters including Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed along with a deputy U.S. marshal in a 1992 shootout on Weaver’s property in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Mikelson cited those sympathizers as another reason not to open the property to bidders and gawkers.
“They had a lot of supporters,” Mikelson. “We’re trying to maintain safety for all.”
If the properties sell, the first entities to be paid would be the municipalities of Plainfield and Lebanon, which are owed back property taxes.
Attorney Shawn Tanguay, who represents Lebanon, said that the city as of mid-July was owed roughly $211,500 in taxes, interest and penalties. Plainfield tax collector Michelle Marsh says the town is owed $152,550 on the Browns’ property there.
“We’re all sort of waiting with bated breath to get this settled,” Tanguay said.
"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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