Thursday Open Thread: Sophomore Slump

As we’re nearing the end of the 2010-2011 season, it’s time to look back and judge our favorite shows. After all, this is Raked. All we do is judge. Heh.

Now I believe I’ve noticed a trend, and I’m curious whether you’ve noticed it, too. So here goes. Today’s open thread:

True or False: A show’s sophomore year can never live up to its freshman year.

Ok, that’s a pretty big statement? And maybe it’s less black and white. But at least this year, there are a few shows that really make me wonder whether this is true. I mean, let’s look at a couple.

Modern Family. Ok, I really like Modern Family. It’s one of those shows I make sure to tune into every week and one that I recommend to others. But is it as good as last year? No, it’s not. It doesn’t feel as fresh, and they’re even reusing storylines. Already. I mean, bringing back Fizzbo? Having Claire and Phil reenact their aliases from Valentine’s Day again? It’s still entertaining, sure, but it’s not the same.

And what about Vampire Diaries? Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Vampire Diaries, but this year, I can’t say I’m having the same reactions I did last year. The changes they’ve made — Caroline (!!), Tyler — those have been great. But the Originals storyline’s just not as powerful as last season’s, and even the Damon/Stefan rivalry has softened.

So what do you think? Sophomore slump for TV? Your call.

image from Yahoo! TV

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3 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread: Sophomore Slump

  1. I agree with one example: Glee
    I disagree with 3 examples: Community, Parks and Rec, Stargate Universe. All these shows didnt hit its stride until the second season. Now they are great where the first season was just eh.

  2. While I generally agree with the sophomore slump as far as music albums go, I’m not sure I do so much for TV shows. In music, bands are generally in existence and honing their skills for a few years or at least a few months prior to releasing their first album. Their first album then generally becomes a greatest hits album of that group’s several years(/months) of unrecorded material. The sophomore album then tends to be made up of all new material written over a much shorter time span.

    As far as TV shows go, the same timespan generally goes into making both the first and second season, and the groups working together to make the show (director/writers/actors) generally aren’t collaborating for very long prior to production of the first season. With the shows I’ve watched, the 2nd season actually tends to be generally better. The first season seems to tend to be spent discovering and fine tuning the writing, the characters and the chemistry. Usually by the 2nd half of the season, it’s figured out, which is where the 2nd season then hits the ground running. (And what I also notice is that most shows then hit their peak at season 3, after which it starts to go downhill as writers start to struggle with what else to do with characters.) The 2nd season also gives the staff the ability to dispose of characters that generally didn’t work in the show.

    As for examples, look at anything Joss Whedon has done (Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse), the Muppet Show (where puppeteers were still finding voices for certain characters and performing different characters), West Wing (goodbye Mandy, hello Donna as a regular cast member). I’m sure it doesn’t hold up for every show, as certain shows just ace their first season. And that may be the case this year. But for most shows and most years, I’d say season 2 is stronger.

  3. Hmm. I guess it depends. I think Community’s been strong this year. But I completely agree that Modern Family has not been having an outstanding year; far below the quality of last year. I remember being really enthralled by the first season of HBO’s Rome, but rather bored with the second season.

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