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12 Hugely Disappointing Seasons Of Beloved TV Shows

 

 

Netflix

With the likes of Breaking Bad, The Wire, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders and many, many, many more truly incredible shows filling the small screen over the past decade, it is easy to argue that television is actually better than cinema right now. It’s certainly more consistent in terms of quality – well, mostly.

A new season of a beloved TV show is more or less akin to a blockbuster event these days, with the bigger budgets, bigger names, and bigger stories all making these shows incredible, highly-anticipated events. Much like blockbusters, the follow-up seasons can also prove to be major disappointments; this doesn’t happen as much as it does with Hollywood film franchises, but TV shows we love do still let us down quite a lot.

These following seasons simply didn’t live up to the hype or the previous high standards which made them so anticipated in the first place. Not all of these seasons are even particularly bad, but they did ruin much of the goodwill these shows had earned. Come to think of it, some of these series haven’t actually bounced back yet.

12. South Park Season 20

Comedy Central

South Park is arguably the best cartoon of all time (sorry Simpsons) and has served up pure comedy gold for over 20 years, but recently the show has been less consistent. Season 19, which told a serialized story, was brilliant and felt like the start of a new golden age for the show, which is why season 20 was a major disappointment.

Where season 19 told an interesting story while also allowing each episode to stand on its own, season 20 took the serialization a bit too far. It’s far from the worst season of the show, but it was the most disappointing.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker wrote the season assuming Hilary Clinton would win but when Donald Trump (Mr Garrison) was elected, they had to hastily rework the story and the last few episodes felt unfocused as a result, with many story-lines not even being properly resolved. There were other issues as well; it was too focused on mocking Trump, it was often bloated and lacked enough balance between action and comedy. Also, what the hell was up with Cartman being so nice?

Stone and Parker have expressed regret over this season and returned to the more gentle serialized style of season 19 for the next run of episodes. Season 21 worked out overall, even if it wasn’t the strongest season of the show’s run, so thankfully South Park is more or less back on track now.

11. Twin Peaks Season 2

ABC

Twin Peaks, with its artistic visuals, cinematic style, and complex storytelling, changed TV forever. The first season was stunning and so was season two… but only some of it. Season two of Twin Peaks is still good and has some completely brilliant episodes, but it also several tedious ones. It’s definitely the best season of this list, yet it was undeniably very uneven.

Once the Laura Palmer story-line was resolved, the show struggled to find a new focus. It essentially became a soap opera with many subplots, many of them godawful, dragging across several episodes. David Lynch seemed to disengage from the show during this time as well and less David Lynch is always a bad thing.

Twin Peaks did essentially lose its identity during this time. The show got back on focus by the end and the finale was outstanding, but unfortunately it was too late and the show was cancelled, meaning many of the cliffhangers were never properly resolved.

A prequel/sequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, was released the next year but bombed at the box office. It’s a good film, though not nearly as good as the TV show, but Twin Peaks did eventually bounce back in a brilliant manner.

2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return is one of the best seasons of television ever produced and is an artistic masterpiece in every sense, so the show did at least have a bigger return to form than most TV shows could ever dream of.

10. Peep Show Season 7

Channel 4

Peep Show is easily one of the greatest British TV shows since 2000; a believable and hilarious look at the miseries of life and filmed in a unique POV style. It’s a testament to the show’s quality that the show mostly remained just as compelling throughout its nine seasons, but there was one notable dip.

Peep Show was always at its best when it had a specific plot to focus on. For example, seasons one to four benefited from the focus on Mark’s (David Mitchell) relationship and engagement to Sophie (Olivia Colman) and the excellent season six worked because it focused on Jeremy’s (Robert Webb) affair with a Russian woman. Season five dipped a little because it was between any major plots and season seven similarly suffers from a lack of narrative drive.

Season seven of Peep Show is unusually weak by the standards set by seasons one to six. Episode four, in which Mark and Jeremy get stuck inside a house, is quite funny but the rest of it is incredibly forgettable. Season seven was just a series of recycled subplots (such as Jeremy’s new relationship) with the comedy usually proving limp and uninspired, making for easily Peep Show’s weakest season. Luckily, seasons eight and nine got it back together, although the series never quite reached the highs of those first four seasons again.

9. Hannibal Season 3

NBC

Hannibal is probably the greatest horror show of the 21st century… or was anyway. Despite being widely acclaimed for the incredible visual style, depraved gore and magnetic performances, the show suffered from low ratings and was cancelled after three seasons. This was widely lamented, but the cancellation isn’t quite as unjust as you thought.

Hannibal seriously lost its way by the end. Regarding season three, the first half dealt with Mason Verger and basically retold the events of Hannibal; it did this far better than the belated sequel to Silence of the Lambs from 2001. That was still very good, but the second half of the season, which jumped ahead three years and tackled the Red Dragon story-line, was a huge let-down.

Lacking the incredible gore effects, thrilling twists and psychological depth of previous episodes, this entire story-line ended up being a rote murder mystery that culminated in a dumb cliff-hanger ending that might never be followed up on. The performances were still strong, but in these last episodes the show completely lost its spark.

Ultimately, this was a mediocre end to a once-great show. That being said, since any continuation would move onto The Silence of the Lambs, which is a far better narrative, Hannibal could probably return to its former glory if it was revived. Fingers crossed.

8. Sherlock Season 4

BBC

Sherlock has been a phenomenal success for the BBC, but sadly this widely-loved show has now lost its way.

Seasons one and two were magnificent and benefitted from being low-key mysteries. Subsequent seasons have insisted on bringing in many ludicrous elements involving spies, global organizations and unrealistic mind tricks. Season three was still very good, but the New Year special, The Abominable Bride, was where the cracks started to show. These warning signs were confirmed with Sherlock season four.

The middle episode, The Lying Detective, which saw John Watson dealing with grief and a brilliant villainous turn from Toby Jones, was a good one but the other two episodes lacked considerably. The Six Thatchers was fairly tedious and The Final Problem was a completely ridiculous series of Saw-style tests overseen by a painfully over-the-top villain.

The problems which had previously been hinted at were now in full flow; a “Look at me I’m so clever” vibe, convoluted mind games, ludicrous storylines and a focus on plot twists instead of psychological depth. After this, it’s difficult to feel too much enthusiasm towards another season. Given how busy Cumberbatch and Freeman now are, we always have to wait two years or more for a new season and clearly it’s not going to be worth the wait anymore. They’ve also definitively killed off Moriarty, the show’s best character and one of the best TV villains of all time, which makes one even less keen to see Sherlock come back.

7. Black Mirror Season 4

Netflix

Black Mirror, before last December, could seemingly do no wrong. We’d had three fantastic seasons and a brilliant Christmas special that made for some of the most heart-breaking and human science-fiction television ever. Even in the transition to Netflix, season three was still strong and delivered the show’s two best episodes (Shut Up and Dance and San Junipero).

Then along came season four and suddenly we’re not so excited about Black Mirror anymore. Previously, we’d had one mediocre episode (The Waldo Moment) and one decent episode (Men Against Fire) while the rest were excellent or above. With season four, while some of the episodes are very good, none of them are top-ten episodes out of the nineteen Black Mirror episodes we’ve had to date.

U.S.S Callister and Black Museum are very good, but the rest all have nagging issues. Episodes three, four and five are overall good, but Hang the DJ ripped off San Junipero, Metalhead had too little backstory and Crocodile’s second half made no sense, preventing them from reaching greatness. The worst one by far was Arkangel, which was very forgettable and also inexplicably cast an actress in her twenties as a 15-year-old.

On the whole, this just wasn’t as good as usual and lacked an episode that will truly stay with you. It’d be good to have a little break before season five so that Charlie Brooker can write without being rushed by a time limit, which might have been what happened here.

6. Doctor Who Season 6

BBC

Doctor Who, whether it’s the Classic or Revived series, is always wonderful and while it’s had many ups and downs over the years, the show’s failures are usually interesting ones. Not so here.

The first four seasons of the Doctor Who revival were outstanding and season five was good as well, even if the quality dropped a tiny bit. On the other hand, this season kind-of sucked and represented everything wrong with the Steven Moffat era.

Steven Moffat was a great guest writer but he’s not been a good head-writer and his departure is a huge relief. With his insistence on long, convoluted story arcs and prioritization of bombast over good storytelling, Doctor Who often felt like a generic gritty science-fiction show instead of the wonderful adventure story we all came to love.

Season six had its moments, but for the most part it was a collection of meandering plot threads, overdone horror stories and humorless tedium that just went on and on without giving anything a satisfying pay-off. Even the acclaimed The Doctor’s Wife wasn’t that great an episode, while Let’s Kill Hitler is still one of the worst episodes of modern Doctor Who.

Luckily the series has never stooped so low again. Season nine was very disappointing and the show completely lost its identity there, but seasons seven and season eight were good. Best of all, the recent season ten was a huge return to form that finally felt like Doctor Who again.

5. Torchwood Season 4

BBC

Torchwood, the adult spin-off from Doctor Who, was always very inconsistent and is easily the weakest show on this list. It isn’t as good as The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off on CBBC, but Torchwood was still overall a good show and, at its best, it was a complete blast. After two seasons of Doctor Who-style monster of the week stories, Torchwood got its first taste of real critical acclaim with the excellent five-part third series Children of Earth. Then, this happened.

Torchwood Miracle Day is similarly a continuous story but it’s spread out to ten episodes. It features Jack and Gwen, alongside two random Americans, investigating a phenomenon in which no-one can die. It sounds interesting, but it really isn’t.

Miracle Day is Awful. It’s a flaming dumpster fire and by far the worst season on this list. Although episodes seven and ten are good and the series features the usual strong work from the cast, as well as a memorable turn from Bill Pullman as a child murderer, other than that this is a ghastly waste of potential. You know a season sucks when the most exciting thing to happen is a villain from The Sarah Jane Adventures (The Trickster) getting referenced.

Bloated, overly Americanized, lacking in action and mercilessly repetitive, this is a truly awful collection of episodes. Torchwood hasn’t returned and probably won’t; since this sucked so badly it’s hard to care.

4. Game Of Thrones Season 5

HBO

Game of Thrones is a show that no-one ever stops talking about, but believe the hype: it is fantastic. Most viewers went in expecting just a fantasy show, but what we actually got was one of the powerful and complex dramas in recent memory.

Seasons one to four were magnificent, but the fifth season was a huge drop down. The acting and directing were still right on-point, but the writing went downhill considerably. In fairness, the show was now using material from the fourth and fifth Song of Ice and Fire books, which are weaker than the first three, but they could’ve made more effort to spice things up.

Of course, the thing everyone hated most was the terrible Dorne subplot, which was devoid of any suspense or compelling drama and also had those blasted Sand Snakes, played by the three worst actors the show has ever seen. The Dorne stuff was not good, but there were many problems elsewhere. Tyrion’s and Jon’s story-lines were fine, but the rest was fairly tedious. The Arya, Daenerys, Kings Landing and Stannis story-lines were poorly done.

Lacking in character drama, emotion and thrilling action, this was completely inferior to what came before. As well as this, for all the unnecessary controversy over the Samsa and Ramsay scene, the really awful moment was Shireen Baratheon’s meaningless and mean-spirited death. Luckily, GOT has since returned to form so all going well this will be remembered as just a blip.

3. 24 Season 6

Fox

24 was one of the first shows in the golden age of TV that started in the 2000s. A ground-breaking real-time action thriller, when 24’s at its best there is simply nothing else like it. The first five seasons, despite the occasional dumb subplot, were great and season five in particular was completely outstanding. Season six was the start of the show’s decline.

After a good first few episodes which concluded with a nuke being detonated on US soil, the season went badly wrong. Lacking in memorable twists, genuinely powerful action or any real sense of tension, this felt like some mediocre action film stretched out across 24 hours.

This also, like many of these disappointing seasons, brings the problems lurking beneath the surface in previous installments right out into the open. There are too many pointless subplots, the torture becomes entirely gratuitous and everything just gets too over-the-top and convoluted. Worst of all there’s an awful story-line involving Jack Bauer’s evil family.

This season ultimately did nothing except repeat past plot-lines such as the threat of a nuke or the invocation of the 25th Amendment. Even some members of the production team have admitted this season was a major disappointment.

Seasons seven and eight were better, but 24 only got back up to its original standard with the release of 24: Live Another Day, which benefited from being tighter and having only 12 episodes.

2. 13 Reasons Why Season 2

Netflix

The first season of 13 Reasons Why, while flawed, was ultimately a powerful, gripping and refreshingly mature look at some extremely difficult topics backed by fantastic performances by its young cast. Season two, on the other hand, was bitterly disappointing and, despite some good bits and generally powerful dialogue and performances, it destroyed most of the goodwill the show once had.

Here are 13 reasons why 13 Reasons Why season two was a big let-down:

1. The focus is on plot twists and shocking moments instead of serious issues.

2. Katherine Langford is wasted and plays a ghost.

3. It’s all far too contrived.

4. Characters keep randomly disappearing and reappearing.

5. Clay Jensen, this time around, is a selfish A-hole who only cares about revenge and doesn’t care about the trauma everyone else is suffering.

6. Too. Many. Subplots.

7. Hannah and Zach’s relationship made no sense.

8. The mop sodomy scene was Too Far and completely gratuitous.

9. The court case was tedious and overly drawn-out.

10. Too much extra information that undermines what we learnt in season one.

11. The school shooting subplot was handled in an inaccurate and offensive manner.

12. The finale is one of the very worst season finales imaginable and the ending is too awful for words.

13. Bryce Walker doesn’t die. Come on, we were all secretly hoping for that.

Don’t get your hopes up for season three. Since it’s following on from such a terrible ending, it’s hard to see it working at all.

 

1. True Detective Season 2

HBO

There are disappointments in TV and then there’s this. Behold The Phantom Menace of TV.

True Detective season one was an astonishingly powerful, complex and cinematic work full of stunning visuals and featuring two of the best performances in the history of television by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Season one was a powerful meditation on darkness, nihilism, masculinity and religion. Season two, on the other hand, is a generic LA crime drama which doesn’t tell us a thing.

The show has some good cinematography and action and the performances are mostly strong but the show is seriously let-down by Vince Vaughn’s unconvincing work as a career criminal. Season two is ultimately aggressively bland, miserable to the point of exhaustion and, worst of all, painfully convoluted and literally impossible to understand. It has none of the nuances, complexity and depth that made season one so memorable.

Season one was developed over several years by Nic Pizzolatto, while this season was written in a far shorter space of time, which might be why this was so underwhelming. It certainly feels incredibly rushed and also feels derivative of season one, so it seems the show’s makers weren’t given time to prepare properly.

Whatever the reasons, there’s no denying that this was a heart-breaking disappointment that viewers would’ve abandoned long before the end had it not been True Detective. Let’s hope season three restores this once-great show to its former glory.

What did you think of these seasons? Any others that deserve to be here? Let us know down in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

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