LateReg wrote: Soolsma wrote: Agent Earle wrote:
And a lot of them don't develop their very special brand of quality and evolve into masterpieces until only after their first season.
I'm curious if I can agree to that. Can you name some notable examples?
Halt and Catch Fire is pretty much an objective, universally agreed upon example of a show that took nearly two seasons to hit its stride. The quality of the show actually changed as it learned what it wanted to be. Seasons 3 and 4 are excellent.
In other cases, some programs do take their time to get their hooks in you, but that's less about the show and more about the viewer. I know a lot of people who feel that way about The Wire - at the very least, something that is repeated about the series is that you have to watch for four episodes before giving up on it. Meanwhile, I didn't realize how instantly great the first season of The Americans was until I revisited it in light of knowing the subsequent four seasons as I prepared for the final season to air.
I agree with what LateReg wrote. Maybe I worded it a bit clumsily, but I meant that it sometimes takes time for a viewer to catch up with the show's rhytm, as it does for a show to develop its special voice (though the latter is maybe not so much a thing in the current age of auteur television, where a pitcher/showrunner comes to a network/whatever with a fully formed idea and possibly even a detailed plan of how will the storyline evolve over multiple story arcs and seasons). The Wire is a very good example of a slow-burning series, where the scope of the show doesn't become apparent in the first season (and that may initially work against the appreciation of the audiences expecting that S 2 will bring an immediate continuation of what went on in S 1). Of the shows from "way back when", I think Northern Exposure was also the one whose canvas (mythology, if you will) got richer and more complex the longer it went on, and it eventually blossomed beyond what anyone who tunned in for a routine "fish-out-of-water" tale of S 1 could have possibly imagined - to catch that show's idiosyncratic grandeur in all of its complexity, you absolutely need to watch more than the first season.
Whereas some other modern shows I included on my list, I think, while all very good in their premiere seasons, weren't firing on all cylinders until later in the game, and that had to do partly with a viewer getting to know the characters and universe and the level of immersion getting deeper/higher (a subjective reason) as it did with writers/showrunners upping the ante as the series progressed (an objective reason) - on first thought, I'd list The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, and The Shield as examples of this (I'm not saying these titles have difficulty grabbing you with their first episodes, mind you - I was certainly hooked from the get-go). In the end, though, such matters are in the eye of the beholder, and I wouldn't force anyone to labour through a show that he didn't find even the least bit appealing in its first season.
On a side note, I'm very glad about what I'm hearing of Halt and Catch Fire and The Americans, LateReg. Both sound like they offer a quality time spent in front of the TV, and I can't wait to finally check them out. Here's hoping they include a somewhat poignant elaboration of what it meant to live - to socially, culturally and politically exist - in the 1980s, and are not limiting themselves to merely flashing superficialities of that time frame, such as big hair, shoulder pads, walkmans, and Reagan/Bush election posters decorating - or polluting - suburban lawns