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As 'Scandal' Ends, a Look Back at Shows Gone Too Soon – Or Not
April 18, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

Thursday’s final episode of Scandal (top), high-octane though it no doubt will be, reminds me of an odd truth about television series: More of them run too long than end too soon.

Scandal, which will have run 124 episodes when the Gladiators wrap it all up (ABC, 10 p.m. ET), was good fun for a while.

But a couple of seasons ago, it just plumb wore me out.
Too many remarkably glib double-time conversations. Too many egregious crimes that some slippery mastermind got away with because no one seemed to notice or care. Too many people who seemed to be dead who weren’t. Too many cartoonish plot twists.
The time when Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope was kidnapped to be auctioned off to the highest bidder on the Dark Web comes to mind.
Too many characters also bounced too easily between good guy and bad guy. Come to think of it, that probably describes every character on the show except possibly Olivia’s Dad Eli (Joe Morton, left), who made Lex Luther and The Joker look like Joan of Arc.
I understand that for fans of Scandal and its creator Shonda Rhimes, what I’m saying doesn’t spell miscalculation. It spells mission accomplished.
Rhimes has said all along that her guiding principle for Scandal was “Too Much Is Not Enough.” When a writer came up with a sufficiently outrageous idea, she told TV writers a couple of years ago, she never responded by saying, “Great, let’s build up to that.” She’d use it immediately, confident something even more outrageous would pop up for next week.
As a philosophy, it has worked. Scandal was the hottest thing on TV for a while, which doubtless is one reason Netflix recently backed up the money truck to lure Rhimes away from ABC.
Good for her. For me, I’m just saying Scandal isn’t the first or last show that reached a wild-and-crazy peak and left viewers exhausted while it tried to figure out where to go next.

Desperate Housewives comes to mind. More immediately we have The Walking Dead, whose audience plummeted after the evil Negan smashed the skulls of two characters we really liked. It was a high-adrenalin moment, but afterward a lot of viewers apparently just needed a rest.

For some viewers, I suspect, it’s like me and Scandal. We dated. It’s over.

That said, and to my original broader point, I can name a fistful of cancelled TV shows that I badly miss, that went back home right in the middle of our relationship.

Recently that includes The Halcyon and Mercy Street (left). Going back a bit, I’m still annoyed about not getting the fourth season of Deadwood, especially because the reason was the moronic John From Cincinnati.
I’d love to have seen more I’ll Fly Away and Remember WENN. Another season or two of Ed, Make It Or Break It, FlashForward, Faking It, Rubicon and Friday Night Lights would have made me very happy. 

We all have our own version of that list.

At the same time, we all have shows we stopped watching, most often because we felt like we’d seen and heard all they had to say.

That includes shows as revered as ER, Friends, Lost, All in the Family and The Sopranos, which by the end was running on fumes.

My wife says that she’d be happy if The West Wing had stayed on the air forever, and I’d still be watching it with her if it had. I’m not sure that means it could have stayed at the level that made us love it in the first place.

That’s why, every time I think how much I miss Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey or Boardwalk Empire, I’m consoled because pretty much all my memories are good.

Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse? Maybe.

I suspect it’s just better to leave the stage when the audience wants one more song than to hang around until they wanted one fewer.
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Quite agree! I am disappointed that so few of those classics have not transferred to Netflix, or equivalent (?_) -- I am thrilled thrilled that NF has found international multi-season series, it is a palate cleanser, but I do wish they'd find the shows we miss from 'appointment viewing' era. It would be nice to review.
Apr 18, 2018   |  Reply
Very well put. "Scandal" was so engaging, and then it just became a hot mess. I only still watch it because it's easy to consume while I work out. Love that you remembered "Ed." I'd add "Freaks and Geeks" to that one (and "Glee" to the other one).
Apr 18, 2018   |  Reply
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