The end of an era… or the end of a shrewd economist? Should we admire the creators of successful TV shows when they choose to bow out early while still being ahead of the game?
Maybe they didn’t feel like the hard work anymore. Or feared they couldn’t last. Would The Sopranos be remembered more fondly if it had only lasted two seasons? Or The Wire? Surely The Handmaid’s Tale? All three are praised with the caveat that the first two seasons are the best. While the likes of Lost, Game of Thrones and Girls are best remembered for the absolute stinkers they signed off on.
When Ricky Gervais explained his decision to end The Office after 14 episodes, he cited the example of Fawlty Towers in the 1970s. Twelve flawless episodes … why would you risk your legacy if you didn’t feel it, he reasoned before making Extras, which only consisted of 13 (if only he’d applied the same reasoning to Afterlife).
Was Gervais right? Well, the American version of The Office ended up with 188 episodes, but season eight of nine was heavily criticized – the fallout after Steve Carrell left the show. And it’s certainly only a matter of time before we see David Brent again, who was last cast in a film in 2016.
And whisper it’s not true, but John Cleese, now 83, is currently writing a third series of Fawlty Towers – this time with someone who is unlikely to part with him: his daughter Camilla.
So is it smart to call it a day? Or are we all starting to hate Mindhunter now that it’s been confirmed that it’s never coming back.
Farewell to the giants
You can argue for that Succession (S4; HBO Max; March 27) falls short with just four seasons. Make no mistake, it’s sublime, but Season 3 baited us with a series of glorious locations/events when the truth is the writing team ran out of ideas – which is criminal when the characters are so brilliant. Tellingly, its creator Jesse Armstrong is British, and originally he just wanted to make a movie: did he just go with the flow after the second season was so unexpectedly well received?
Just as dominant at the prices in the last two years, but right from the start, has been Ted Lasso (S3; Apple; March 15) – the reverse mirror image of Succession as it was created by Americans and set in Britain. After three seasons, it is also coming to an all-too-early end, as many might say. A sticky, sticky one, no doubt if you’ve been struck by Jason Sudeiki’s ineffable charm—the nice guy version of him, not the pig who issued custody papers to his wife while she was addressing an audience. Personally, I like to think of it as a relegation.
Luther: The fallen sun (Netflix), as the name suggests, will be the last we see of the role that made the industry realize that Idris Elba is not from Baltimore, and we can only hope that John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 23), Creed III (74; March 2); Shazam!2: The Fury of the Gods (March 16), Murder Mysteries 2 (Netflix; March 31) and Scream 6 (March 30) will also be the end of the line. Oh, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves also.
The same could also be said of most of the continuing series: You (S4B; March 9), Sex/life (S2), I’m Georgina (S2, TBC) and Riverdale (S7; March 31) on Netflix; and Outlander (S6; March 7), Perry Mason (71; S2; March 7) and Superman and Lois (S3; March 16) on HBO Max.
Last Oscar hope
No one could accuse Ted Lasso of being more sentimental than Steven Spielberg, a director so harmless that he’d rather abandon his most beloved franchise, Indiana Jones, than tell his central star that there’s a limit to what an 80- year old can do on horseback. The mystery is why we enjoy beating these purveyors of unadulterated joy. The Fabelman family (84; March 23), a semi-autobiographical story based on his childhood, is clearly one of his better works, but it disappeared in the Oscar race long ago.
Similarly, Sam Mendes’ latest, Empire of Light (54; March 9) with Olivia Colman, hasn’t tugged at the heartstrings in the way you might have thought, although it got better reviews in the UK than the US. Like Colman, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) might have thought she would be considered for the mainstream award for Corsage (76; March 16), the second on-screen portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria after the popular Netflix series The Empress – especially since the reviews have been good. Tribute to The inspection (72; March 9), about a gay man who looks for answers in the US Marines, and Knock on the cabin (63; March 9) has also been good – come on, 63 is one hell of a score for M Night Shyamalan.
Also worth considering… is The whale (60), for which Brendan Fraser is favorite to win the Oscar for Best Actor this Sunday for playing a man who weighs 272 kilos – about one-thousandth the weight of a blue whale, so inaccurately named. Likewise, 65 (Not Released Worldwide; March 16) with Adam Driver is not about a nightclub, but about the year 65 million years B.C. – the date his spaceship crashed on Earth.
Finally, why not give Chang can Dunk (Disney+; March 10) a whirlwind. Like the main character who defies his height to play basketball for his high school, it’s another Asian-American underdog who seems to conquer everything—as in everything, everywhere, if you catch our drift.
Choose Tetris or Roulette
Upstairs TV land, if you want an outsider to back you up, try Tetris (Apple; March 31), the story of how the computer game came to be. Taron Egerton, Toby Jones and Ben Miles lead a likable cast. Failing that, Rain Dogs (82; HBO Max; March 7) is an acclaimed British comedy.
Elsewhere we spin the roulette wheel. Climate anthology series Extrapolations (Apple; March 17) wants its fans, but is it getting too serious? The price of the big door (Apple; March 29) with Chris O’Dowd, where a grocery store machine predicts people’s fate looks too silly, as does Amazon Prime pairing Class of ’07 (March 17) when a school assembly is hit by a tsunami, and The power (March 31), where teenage girls wake up one day with the power to electrocute people at will. Daisy Jones and the Six (62; Amazon Prime; March 3) charts the fortunes of an iconic 1970s band, but how much Fleetwood Mac can you take? While The Pimp – No F***ing Fairytale (Amazon Prime; March 3), located in the Hamburg hood of the Reeperbahn, looks promising, but will it be too German?
It leaves Swarm, the latest offering from Donald Glover, who certainly didn’t outstay his welcome with Atlanta, which he brought to an end after three seasons. Which of course has been John Cleese’s thinking all along.
Source: The Nordic Page