Whorli (my sexier half) loves to read. Our house is full of just her “favorites”. But in addition to her love of commercial sci-fi and fantasy, she devours fan-made derivatives as well. Now, I’ve been mocking her fondness of fan fiction for years now, but I don’t think I ever truly understood how completely insane that niche world is. Over the past few days, we’ve been doing a Chuck marathon, getting ready for Season 3 and Chuck 2.0. This has been excellent, and we’ve about 1/3 through season 2 in 3 days. Unfortunately, I saw some of her FireFox tabs between episodes, and it led to a bit of a mini-rant.
What did I see? A wall of text, complete with General Beckman giving orders to Ms. Summers to go with Major Casey on the upcoming mission. Whorli was reading Buffy and Chuck crossover fan-fic. Now, just the fact that there IS Buffy/Chuck crossover fan-fic blows my mind. The fact that there are apparently 20+ stories of Buffy/Chuck crossover fan-fic is insane. Who is writing all of these? Why don’t these people have jobs? I was aware of the Buffy/Torchwood, Buffy/Stargate, Buffy/Supernatural, Buffy/some-other-show-that-I-don’t-watch stories… but when it involves a show that I like?!? This is unacceptable.
This led to my introduction to Twisting the Hellmouth, which is apparently a site dedicated solely to Buffy Crossover Fanfic (and has 13,000+ stories). My horrid increased 10-fold, but so did my curiosity. Is there ANY show that isn’t crossed with Buffy? And, thankfully, there are. There are no Happy Days or Seinfeld stories. Yet. A tangent: When searching for Happy Days stories, Whorli typed in “Happy Daze”. Who thinks Happy Days is spelled D-A-Z-E?!? I think she needs her citizenship revoked or something.
Altogether, I am saddened that there are so many people who spend their time writing Buffy crossover fanfic. But I’m also comforted to know that there are plenty of people way nerdier than I am.
So Whorli and I want a TON of TV… yet neither of us watch shows when they air. Instead, we download them and watch them either late at night or the next day. We watch some of the same shows, but we also each watch many shows that the other does not.
What’s bothering me is how crappy most of the episodes have been this season for shows that are established. My take on why it’s happening is that these shows have all been around for 4+ seasons, and they’re starting to run out of new and creative material. So they start adding tons of extra filler to drag plot lines out or have mediocre concepts or the directions just aren’t making much sense.
I understand this. If I had to come up with 50 or 100 ideas for 1 TV show that were all above average at a minimum (and amazing at best)… I wouldn’t be able to do it. But that’s why I’m not a writer for a TV show. It’s why I’m not being paid millions of dollars to come up with brilliant material to fill season after season. Of course, you could retort that that isn’t what the networks care about… they just want the episodes to be good enough to keep people watching, keeping ratings high enough to not cancel, and keep ad dollars coming in. Thankfully, it seems that the general TV audience (excluding those who watch reality TV… there’s no hope for those people) is smart enough to recognize the sub-par content they’re being given… ratings on most of the shows in question have dropped this season from last, and from episode to episode. You can view data from Nielsen.
Some of the shows I’m talking about are Heroes, House, all 3 CSIs, 24 (last season), and Weeds… just to name some. On the flip side, shows like HIMYM and South Park continue to be above average at least.
I’m not sure what a solution to this problem is, but maybe some of these shows should take a look at what LOST did, and set a date in the future to end the series. That will give the writers a specific time table to work with and they’ll know exactly how long they need to stretch plots out (or not, ala the ending to Alias) without boring the audience to tears and leave them wondering what the point of that episode was except character A moving from point B to C.