TV Shows That, Like Zombies, Should Be Dead and Aren’t

Okay, time for part two of my series on returning TV series.  Here’s my list of shows that are Dying a Much-Too-Slow Death. (Want to read about old shows I’m still lovin’?  Check out part one of this series.)

ER — Thursdays, NBC, 10pm. Why, whhhhhhyyyyyy am I still watching this show? My inability to stop is just torturing me. TORTURING ME! And now they’re turning Abby back into a drunken drunkedy drunk? I just can’t stand it! Someone, please, STOP THE MADNESS!

I tuned in this season with a flitter of hope that maybe the show might get better with the addition of Stanley Tucci as the new Cantankerous Boss. But alas, as much as I love both his character and the character played by John Stamos (hubba hubba!), I still spend 99% of the hour trying to muster up the courage to just blind myself with a knitting needle and put myself out of my misery for good. Obviously, I can’t stop. I’m like Dr. Carter after he got shot and started injecting Fentanyl in between his toes in the breakroom. And, as with all addictions, this one is nothing but destructive and ugly. God, grant me the serenity. . .

Cold CaseSundays, CBS, 9pm — I enjoyed the first season of this show, way back in the early days when it still felt kind of innovative. But as the series has gone on, I’ve started to realize every episode is pretty much the same. In fact, this “sameness” is one of the reasons most of the shows on this list are on this list, now that I think about it.

Here’s how Cold Case episodes play out every. single. week: Someone comes into the office and drops a clue about an old murder (or, alternatively, old bones are discovered and the cops are called in), the gang digs up all the people involved with the victim in the past and questions them, one of those old friends turns out to be the killer, the gang solves the crime, there’s timely music, the main lady with the eternally bad hair sees the victim’s ghost and smiles wistfully to herself, the credits roll. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I realize there’s no other way they can really handle this show because of the nature of “cold cases” to begin with. But as much as I once enjoyed it, I confess it’s just too repetitive for me now. I realized it was finally time to let go at the beginning of this season when I let a few episodes pile up on my DVR and then found myself deleting one unwatched just so I could make room for the series finale of Tori and Dean: Inn Love. That’s just sad, people.  In fact, I can think of nothing quite so sad as that.

House — Tuesdays, 9pm, FOX — I find so many things about this show so unbelievably irritating I can’t even write about it here without going off on twelve paragraphs of tirade (which I just typed out and then deleted so as to spare you). I’m going to skip the first eleven paragraphs, which primarily dealt with how angry the stereotype of a chronic pain patient being a law-breaking, self-serving drug addict makes me, and instead, I’ll just say this: House is another show that quickly became too much the same to me every single week. As with Cold Case, every episode of House is completely identical.  They all go like this: patient with strange illness comes into the hospital, House makes snarky remarks, House insults his team, House and his team of diagnostic “experts” misdiagnose the patient 14 times in a row, Wilson says something humanistic to House, House sexually harases Cuddy, Cuddy rolls her eyes, and then five minutes before the patient is about to die, House finally gets the diagnosis right and administers the correct drug.

Seriously — “diagnostic genius”? Give me 55 minutes to rattle off the name of every disease I can think of and I bet I’ll stumble across the right one eventually myself. And I don’t even HAVE a degree in medicine.

So, for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the two I just told you about, Gregory House and his pack of butt-kissing wannabes are, like, SO OVER for me.

Prison Break — Mondays, 9pm, FOX — People are still watching this show?  The mind boggles.  Even my sister, a diehard fan, finally gave up on it earlier this year when they killed off Permasmirk’s girlfriend (Permasmirk is what we call Wentworth Miller at my house, FYI). And she outlasted me by an entire season — I didn’t make it past the ninth or tenth episode of season two. As soon as the gang broke out of prison, which, in my opinion, happened much too soon, it was pretty much all downhill from there. I had a moment of hope when they brought in a savvy Feb (played by the awesome William Fitchner) who, it looked like, was going to spend most of season two matching wits with Michael and working on unraveling his escape plan one cryptic tattoo at a time. But the game of brain vs. brain was quickly and mind-bogglingly downgraded to a game of brain vs. whackjob, and as soon as Fitchner’s character started popping crazy pills and killing people, I rolled my eyes and gave up. Die, Prison Break, die!

24 – FOX, back in January — Speaking of FOX shows that need to stop sucking my brains out of my skull with their tedious repetitiveness, is anybody still watching 24 either? I quit at least two seasons ago, after I realized every single year was going to be exactly the same as the year before it — the only difference is the terrorist’s nationality and the device he plans to use to destroy Los Angeles. And it wasn’t solely the stupid plots that started to get to me, either. I confess that I, watcher of “torture porn” movies like Hostel and Saw, finally could not stomach all the abuse in this series. Not because it’s graphic, but because it’s so clear the show’s writers/producers/network-executives at FOX (ugh) think it’s actually a justifiable thing to do to people. This is not only utterly stupid (why are we still arguing about torture?  Does nobody read history books anymore?) but it means the writers aren’t even seeing the irony in their own positions on this — a good 85-90% of the characters tortured for information on the seasons of 24 that I’ve seen were completely innocent and had no useful intel to offer up in the first place.  I also read recently that in the upcoming season, Jack goes on the stand in court to defend the usefulness of torturous interrogation techniques, and is later told by his boss to get some information from a suspect “using any means necessary.”   Has he not been paying attention to his own show?  Damn.  I mean, at least in the torture-porn movies, the torturers are the BAD guys.  Bah!  I wash my hands. . .

Survivor — Do I really need to say anything about this one?  The problem with Survivor (well, one problem, anyway) is that they’ve just aired too many seasons of it (fifteen already!), too close together. For a while there, we were getting two rounds a year, and that’s just too much of a time commitment for most mere mortals to make to a reality show. I haven’t watched in years, myself. I feel kinda bad for Probst — he must be getting tired of all that cheesy “tribal council” dialogue he has to repeat over and over every single week (for season after season after season). I wonder what he’ll do when this show finally gets the boot? Am I the only one who would love to see him team up with lookalike Bear Grylls for some Doublemint-twins Man vs. Wild action? (Incidentally, the new season of Man vs. Wild starts up this coming Friday, if you’re interested.)

Okay, I think that’s it for the “undead shows that need a bullet to the brain” list.  I feel like I’m missing one or two, but for the life of me, I can’t think of what they are, and I’m too lazy to go look at the TV guide to try to figure it out.

Stay tuned for the final installment of this series in a couple of days.  It’ll be about shows that are “just plain gettin’ old” (which doesn’t necessarily mean I think they should be canceled, just that I think it’s time for someone to step in and take them in a few new directions).  And if you have any nominations for the Zombie List, please post away in the comments section!  Lively-debate time, people!

10 Responses to “TV Shows That, Like Zombies, Should Be Dead and Aren’t”

  1. Alisa Says:

    ER – I decided to quit ER cold turkey. It’s not set on my DVR and I don’t even watch the commercials. I realized that I should have probally stopped watching when Noah Wiley left the show.

  2. Trip Says:

    I gave up on ’24’ back towards the end of Season 4. I mean, I really enjoyed the unintentional comedy that Jack’s useless daughter Kim provided, but come on. I was begging my TV to let Kim to catch one, just one, stray AK round in the melon Cheney-style. (The threat from cougars was particularly fun, though). You could hear Darwin tapping his foot impatiently from the grave whenever she was on-screen.

    Plus, you gotta figure after the third go-round, the powers-that-be would have just written off L.A. completely – that town is a total suitcase-nuke and chemical-weapon magnet, man.

    But the thing that wore me down the most was that our biggest national security threat always turned out to be our hiring practices. Seriously, how many traitors and turncoats did CTU go through over the course of this entire show?

    This is what irritated me about all three Mission Impossible movies. Each time the enemy was some ex-agent who always had the critical info necessary to screw everyone blue. If anyone could use some vigorous waterboarding, it’s the fictional recruiters or the real writers on these shows.

  3. megwood Says:

    Oh man, yes! I forgot to mention CTU’s ridiculous bad employee-screening process, but that was something that annoyed me right from the start. It was utterly RIDICULOUS how many “moles” they kept hiring, never ever learning from their mistakes. Ye gods. The writers couldn’t think of any other way to get villains into the CTU computer systems? In this day and age? Anybody who reads the newspaper knows all you need to do to steal super-secret information is watch for some dumb staff person to leave their unsecured laptop sitting on the front seat of their car. Break a window and BAM, you and the Chinese are suddenly BFFs!

  4. Lorraine Says:

    ER – I should have quit seasons ago but I couldn’t tear myself away from Luka. This season was rumored to be the last so I couldn’t cut out on just the last season. Now, John Wells is saying that ER could go yet another season – arrrggghhh!!!! What to do?? Either I’m getting older or those ER docs at County General are getting younger and more immature? Maybe both!

    House – I barely pay attention to the disease-of-the-week stories. They are benign enough that I can still tune in for my Hugh Laurie fix. I think Kal Penn has some potential on this show.

  5. Eva Says:

    Die, ER, DIE!!!

    I’m not a regular TV viewer, so I can’t say with any insight whether House is getting old, but… DANG, that Hugh Laurie… it’s hard to reach a point of having had too much of Hugh Laurie…

    I loved Survivor 2-4. Then I lost interest. I’m shocked that it’s still going on. What unexpected game plays can possibly be left at this point? How can anyone play when the producers throw in off-the-wall twists?

    Oh, well. I’m just excited about Dr. Who season 3 hitting Netflix. NOw just gotta wait for my turn to get disc one… It’s marked “Very Long Wait” right now…

  6. megwood Says:

    Did you guys watch last night’s ER? I DID!

    When Abby said, “Someone needs to either shoot me or shoot them” (referring to the obnoxious folk singers), I confess to shouting at the TV, “SHOOT HER! SHOOT HER!”

    Hellllllllp meeeeeeee!

  7. Lorraine Says:

    It usually takes me a few days to make myself watch the latest ER episode, especially now that Abby is back to her self-destructive behavior. I think this is the last season for me, whether it ends or not.

    Eva – I hate “very long wait”!! I had “Miss Potter” on “long wait” for months and just borrowed it from a friend.

  8. Eva Says:

    OH MY GOSH, Lorraine, I just got Miss Potter, and I think it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen!!! (Perhaps being an aging spinster who likes to write and draw, I could relate??) I first saw it on a plane this spring, and I was in awe and knew I would want to see it again. I waited for forever for my turn wtih a Netflix copy, watched it yesterday, and fell in love all over again. *sigh*

    NOw, I just have to be patient for my turn with Dr Who 3! David Tennant, I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes!! (Though I wish you were still Christopher Eccelston.)

  9. Lorraine Says:

    Eva, I really liked Miss Potter although I didn’t love it. I appreciated the period authenticity. I don’t want to give a spoiler but I knew the outcome of her romance so I was prepared. I thought that Ewan McGregor did a lovely portrayal. He was so sensitive and sweet. To tie this back to ER, I really like the ER episode with Ewan, another really interesting character portrayal.

  10. Liz Says:

    Sorry! I still like “House” pretty much, although I do agree that his dependency on Vicadin should not have been treated as an addiction. What won me over about him is that the most important thing to him is being RIGHT – even if you’re not liked. I have to admit, I can relate to that.

    ER is okay, especially now that they’re not trying so bloody hard to be PC. Stamos is pretty stupid, but Tucci is interesting. As for Luka and Abby, I confess I don’t really care that much. I always used to like Chicago Hope better, anyway.

    I LOVED 24 two seasons ago (with Jean Smart, her stupid husband, and all those terrible deaths!). Then last season was really stupid by comparison. And the one coming up, with a lady president, and Chloe a … gulp … mom sounds really dumb. But I just read that the writers’ strike has put production of 24 on hold; maybe it really will die.

    I never watched Cold Case or Prison Break, so I don’t care what happens to them. What do you guys think of the CSI shows? I still think the first one is the best. I’ve gotten really bored with Miami, and I’ve gotten to like NY better!

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