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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo slammed his helmet on a cart and screamed at nobody in particular during an embarrassing flurry of turnovers in a preseason game.
Dez Bryant sprinted 50 yards to the end zone after a catch with no one pursuing him — during practice in training camp.
Jason Garrett chastised his rookies over not being ready for the speed of the NFL and benched running back DeMarco Murray after a fumble that wasn’t even a turnover because a teammate recovered it.
The Dallas Cowboys are talking urgency and accountability. Three of the leading voices are a quarterback trying to prove he’s worth the richest contract in franchise history, a receiver emerging as one of the league’s best and a coach whose job might depend on getting out of an 8-8 rut and ending the team’s three-year playoff drought.
“There’s just a way to play winning football and there’s a way not to,” Romo said. “And we’re going to make sure we play winning football, that’s everybody included. When we’re not, it needs to be extremely important and I think it is.”
Starting with Romo, here are five things to know about the Cowboys coming off consecutive seasons that ended with losses to NFC East rivals with a playoff berth on the line.
ROMO’S REDEMPTION: Entering his seventh full season as the starter, Romo still battles the perception that he cares more about golf and other things than winning a Super Bowl. Not only did Jerry Jones give him a six-year, $108 million contract, the owner created the biggest talking point of the offseason by saying Romo would be more involved in everything about the offense. Jones called it “Peyton Manning-type time.” After missing all the offseason workouts to have a cyst removed from his back, he’s been steadily building toward the Sept. 8 opener against the New York Giants. He finished the preseason with a 123.3 passer rating and wasn’t responsible for any of the ghastly five first-half turnovers in a preseason game against Arizona.
GET THE BALL: The Cowboys forced nine turnovers in the first four preseason games. They had 16 the entire regular season last year. The talk has been turnovers since the day defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin replaced the fired Rob Ryan and brought a new scheme that emphasizes takeaways. Defenders do drills where they chase bouncing balls around the field and have to pick them up and run the other way. Whistle or not, defenders try to poke out the ball at the end of plays, and if an offensive player drops it, they grab it and run. It’s not just getting turnovers. It’s returning them for touchdowns. Linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are looking for more than just tackles, and cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne want higher interception totals after combining for just four their first year together last season.
GUARDED OPTIMISM: The Cowboys had one of the worst running games in franchise history last season, and they’ve had one injury after another at guard during training camp. Last year’s starters, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, were both sidelined less than two weeks before the opener, and they weren’t great in their Dallas debuts after signing as free agents. But the Cowboys aren’t waiting on those two to come back. Doug Free was decent in a surprise appearance at guard in the preseason game against Cincinnati after spending his first six seasons at tackle. Ron Leary looked good before a knee flared up in camp, and he could be ready for the opener. First-round pick Travis Frederick is expected to be the starting center but could play guard.
BEWARE OF WARE: The only player who’s looked as dominant as Bryant in training camp is DeMarcus Ware, who is moving to defensive end from outside linebacker in Kiffin’s four-man front. He’s always been a pass rusher first, but now he’s a pass rusher only — with rare exceptions. He looked fit, fast and nearly unblockable in training camp. Constant pressure from Ware could be the most important component for a first-team defense that didn’t give up a touchdown in its first three preseason games. The Cowboys believe strongly that Ware might even be better at end than linebacker, where he had 111 sacks in his first eight seasons. If they’re right, the Dallas defense could be an asset for Romo, leading him to take fewer chances and therefore make fewer mistakes.
MURRAY AND COMPANY: A healthy Murray has looked like a difference-maker for the Cowboys in his first two seasons. The problem is, he hasn’t always been healthy. He missed the last three games of his rookie season with a broken ankle and six more last year with a sprained foot. Murray’s injury history made the battle for his backup one of the most interesting stories of camp after Dallas decided not to bring back Felix Jones. Lance Dunbar, an undrafted second-year player, emerged as the No. 2 back before a foot injury slowed him. Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner are locks to make the 53-man roster as well.
AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org/
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler
"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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