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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
HILLSBORO, N.M. (AP) — Nine teenagers reported missing by state police investigating allegations of abuse at a ranch for troubled youth are safe and being returned to their parents, an attorney for the program’s operators said Friday evening.
State police Friday launched an air and ground search of the 30,000-acre ranch in Sierra County after finding no one at the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program.
Program operators had been ordered to send the kids back to their parents or surrender them to the state after staff members were accused of beating and shackling students.
Ranch attorney Pete Domenici Jr. said in a statement Friday evening that the boys had been “on a previously scheduled activity away from the ranch for several days. They are safe and have already been picked up by their parents or their parents are en route to pick them up.”
Domenici accused the state of escalating the situation by failing to agree to an emergency hearing in a lawsuit the ranch filed earlier this week over what the suits contends was an improperly handled investigation.
“We attempted to avoid exactly this type of situation by requesting an emergency hearing,” he said.
State police did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking confirmation of the teen’s whereabouts.
Earlier Friday, state police spokesman Emmanuel Gutierrez said officers went to Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program in Sierra County with a court order to send the kids back to their parents or have them surrendered to the state.
“No one was there,” Gutierrez said, so police launched aircraft and called in help from local law enforcement agencies to search the ranch.
Last week, the Albuquerque Journal reported state authorities were investigating claims that teenage boys were beaten and forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for minor violations of rules at the unlicensed program.
The operators of the ranch, Scott and Collette Chandler, deny any children have been harmed. And they filed a lawsuit earlier this week accusing investigators of targeting the ranch for closure following a fatal car crash involving students.
The operators also claimed investigators have been illegally interviewing students and telling parents to pull their children from the program by Friday or face abuse charges. Their lawsuit said at least one family was contacted directly by Gov. Susana Martinez, a claim her office denies.
“The parents have been subject to verbal bullying and threats from representatives of CYFD for several days,” Domenici said in a statement. “Late yesterday afternoon, the Tierra Blanca Ranch received notice of a custody hearing for four of the youths scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. No notice of today’s efforts to take custody of the nine boys was provided. Instead of handling this matter in an orderly manner, CYFD chose to needlessly escalate the situation.
The Chandlers had traveled to Albuquerque on Thursday with two graduates of their program for a news conference to dispute the abuse allegations.
“I’ve never seen anyone beaten,” said Kevin Finch, now a freshman at Western New Mexico University. “The accusations are downright lies.”
Another graduate, Jon Cowen, said the program “turned my life around 180 degrees.”
Chandler said Tierra Blanca has been operating for nearly 20 year. Its website promises a program for unmanageable kids that offers a balance of love, discipline and structure.
It is unclear how many such programs are operating in New Mexico or around the country, as many are unlicensed.
“That’s the problem,” said Varela, noting that the Tierra Blanca is the only such program in New Mexico of which state officials were aware.
He said the administration will push for legislation next year to regulate such programs so authorities know where any programs housing kids more than 60 days are operating and so officials are “able to go in and make sure that whatever youth are in there are safe.”
"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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