Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
On Monday, Facebook’s stock price hit an all time high, finally breaching its public offering opening mark. At All Things D, Peter Kafka explains the Wall Street love: Facebook has engineered stunning growth in mobile ad revenue. According to a new report from eMarketer, “Facebook is now on pace to control 16 percent of the mobile ad market this year.” (In July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported that mobile accounted for 41 percent of Facebook’s quarterly advertising revenue.)
To put those numbers in perspective, consider this: Google, according to eMarketer, gobbles up over 50 percent of mobile ads. Then comes Facebook, at 16 percent. After that, a precipitous drop down to Pandora, at a little over 2 percent. So the mobile ad market is completely dominated by Google and Facebook, with Facebook charging ahead while Google holds even. No wonder Wall Street is happy.
I, however, am perplexed. Back in May, I ranted about about how Facebook wouldn’t allow me to turn off the sleazy online dating ads that were besieging my iPhone. The post struck a nerve – to this day, if you Google the words “Facebook is blowing it,” my story will be the first result returned.
Within hours, Facebook’s publicity department informed me that the next version of the app would include better controls over ads. And yes, when I upgraded, I found that I could hide specific ads on mobile Facebook.
The mystery, however, is that for the last couple of months I have not seen a single ad of any kind on Facebook mobile. On the one hand, this is awesome. Facebook’s algorithm has figured out I don’t want ads and is respecting my desires. I can offer nothing but praise for this percipience. (Although now that I haven’t seen mate1.com’s large-breasted zombie stalker from hell for months, I kind of miss her.)
But at the same time, I am finding my experience a little hard to square with Facebook’s surging mobile revenue. If a week or so of clicking “hide this ad” convinced Facebook’s algorithm to never show me another ad again, what’s to stop everyone else from repeating my example?
I’m curious as to what other people are experiencing. Let me know in the comments if you are seeing ads on mobile Facebook (and tell me whether you are Android or iOS, and up-to-date on the latest app upgrade).
"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.