Die Hard would never have worked as a TV show. For how many episodes, really, could you have stretched a story about a New York City cop fighting off terrorist thieves in a Los Angeles high rise on Christmas eve? 10? 12? Maybe? One season at max, for certain.
It wouldn’t have been able to sustain itself like a TV show must.
Which is that makes the small screen so unique. You don’t just need good – and, really, you may not even need good in film, if the success of Con Air is any indication – you need sustainable good.
Good that can be good for longer than just a few hours. Good that can be good for five years and 100 episodes.
Good possessed by only a fraction of the TV shows that make it to air. Good that I always find myself considering when evaluating a new show.
Good we will focus on in analyzing ABC; how many episodes can their new shows last?
Manhattan Love Story – Nine. Because how long will you really listen to the main character’s inner monologues before losing your mind? Only Scrubs and their willingness to mock themselves for it could make that work. In fact, this show is a perfect example of the Die Hard theory espoused above. What Women Want worked for an hour and forty five minutes of Mel Gibson. Any longer and the unique charm would have worn off, and the audience would have grown weary. It works in short form, not long.
Forever – Eighteen. Which is 10 more episodes than this show was given by FOX when it was called New Amsterdam. The plot may be perfect for TV – procedural crime with the immortality question providing a more long-term, driving storyline – but I’m not convinced it will catch on. Nothing about it grabs hold and demands your attention; nothing about it screams “must-watch.” Instead it rather calmly asks you to do so, if you’re not too busy. Which you may do, but for no longer than 18 episodes – as long as they, in the first two, tell you what happens to the guy’s bodies after he dies. Otherwise, you should be out immediately, citing an impossibly large plot hole.
How To Get Away With Murder – Forty. Because Shonda Rhimes doesn’t swing and miss. And if she does, she doesn’t do it with an Oscar nominee leading the cast – and she certainly doesn’t do it after stumbling into what passes for an original plot in this era everything has been done before. It may set up like a procedural law drama, but framed by the the teacher-student subplot, it won’t look or feel like it – and it will be the breakout hit of the fall. Eventually, though, it will come to have the same problems Scandal – Rhimes’ most recent triumph – has had. Opening with such bombastic fury, the show will need to keep one-upping itself to stay interesting, and eventually, the President will assassinate a Supreme Court justice with his bare hands and the shark will have officially been jumped.
Cristela – One. One bad episode equal parts forced and unfunny.
Black-ish – 30+. I watched Me, Myself & Irene for the first time when I was 12, and have, ever sense, had a faith in Anthony Anderson that has yet to be rewarded – a stint on Law and Order: SVU wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I do believe, though, that the time for such has finally come. It’s not the next Modern Family, but with Laurence Fishburne on board, I think this will end up a smart, funny, underrated comedy with staying power. It will get at least 30 and have every opportunity to continue on.
Selfie – X. Cop-out though it may be, it’s the truth. I just can’t get a handle on Selfie. I get the feeling I’d like to say one, because the lead character seems about as annoying as you’ll find on TV. But at the same time, the My Fair Lady motif leads me to look more in the range of the low double digits – because it, like the musical, and like the love story that seems to be developing between the two main characters, is built for the short term, not the long term. But then there’s John Cho, who almost has me believing in a brighter future than I would have thought I could imagine for this show. So how many episodes? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Author: Joseph White
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.