Quick cancellations and going back to Springfield

Dave Bartlett
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I have a lot more respect for full-time TV critics these days, who are more or less forced to watch pretty much everything on TV — and not all of it good — all the time.

“The Simpsons” — still good after all these years. — Submitted image

I love my boob tube, and that’s why I choose to write about it. But trying to watch all of this year’s new shows has been both daunting and unsatisfying, because while many of the shows are pretty good, none have really been great. And there are still lots of shows I’ve yet to watch once.

With PVR space once again reaching a premium, I’m starting to do some research about what has already been cancelled.

Why review a show that failed to air at least four episodes, at a bare minimum. It won’t be put up on Netflix later or released on DVD. Those shows are now blips in television trivia history.

And the list is quite long. I didn’t lose sleep after I deleted, all the unwatched episodes of the likes of NBC’s “Welcome to the Family” (cancelled after three episodes) and the network’s remake of “Ironside,” (it aired four).

Add the CBS show “We are Men” to that list.

Due to poor ratings and my complete lack of interest I’ve also decided to delete ABC’s “Betrayal” and all of this year’s new episodes of “Revenge.”

I like the third-year soapy drama, but hated how last season ended. And if I ever get the urge to go back, the show is on Netflix.

I was loath to start CBS’s “Hostages” as the plot sounded ridiculous, and it looks like that’s on the chopping block, too.

Unflinching delete!

I’ve also stopped watching “Mom.” A full season of the Anna Faris sitcom has been ordered by CBS but I’m bored with it now.

However, I’m pleased to see Fox pick up “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” for a full season, as the show is one of the only new ones I’ve watched that I still look forward to each week.

I’m also still enjoying the endearing “Back in the Game,” although its future is still an airbourne pop fly. And while I’m an episode behind, I love James Spader in the decent drama “The Blacklist,” which will also get a full season.

Revisiting Springfield

To break up the intake of new shows, I’ve also been taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting my old friends “The Simpsons.”

At one time you couldn’t turn on a TV and not find everyone’s favourite animated family somewhere on the dial. And while the show began its 25th season this year, and is still getting big ratings, I hadn’t watched an episode of the show — a show that was once my religion — in at least three or four years.

I decided to start at Season 7, the most recent season I have on DVD, and work my way backwards.

It’s both amazing at how much I’ve retained from constant rewatchings of these classics, and how well most of the episodes hold up to this day — after a break from the constant barrage of non-stop syndication.

The first two episodes of Season 6 are likely in my all-time favourite Top 5 — “Bart of Darkness” and “Lisa’s Rival.”

They show how at one time, the show’s writers would weave plots together throughout the show.

In the former, Lisa enjoys a taste of popularity when the family gets a swimming pool while Bart witnesses a “murder,” in homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

There’s even a guest appearance by the Jimmy Stewart character.

While Lisa meets her academic and musical equal in the latter episode, Homer finds a jackknifed sugar truck and goes into business selling “white gold; Texas tea … sweetener,” door to door.

It showcases the show at its prime.

So far, I’m back as far as Season 4 and, as the animation gets rougher, the jokes still are witty and well written.

I know I’ll reach a point where the show was still developing, and I may only pick through the first three seasons for some of my other all-time favourite episiodes.

I’m still composing my Top 5 list and may even write about that later on, but I’m also trying to figure out where the show lost its appeal for me — where it “jumped the shark,” in TV-fandom parlance.

That’s probably a harder question to answer as the show is fading, but at such a slow pace that at this rate it may be still airing episodes for decades.

However, the recent death of longtime voice actress Marcia Wallace (Mrs. Krabappel) raises another question.  When one of the principal voice actors does eventually pass on, and if the show is still on the air, can it continue with a new person behind one of the principal voices?

It may take that to end the phenomenally long run of “The Simpsons.”

What five Simpsons episodes would make your Top 5 or Top 10 list? Send the answer and other questions/comments to Dave Bartlett at talkingtelevision@gmail.com.

Organizations: CBS

Geographic location: Springfield, Brooklyn, Texas

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