TV TV Shows That Went In Strange Directions

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emuboy

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TV Shows have to adapt over time to changes for a variety of factors. Sometimes changes work, other times they don't and other times the changes are downright bizarre. Which are some strangest changes made to TV shows over the years? Here are some examples:

Kevin Can Wait - This Kevin James sitcom struggled from the outset to reach the lofty heights of The King Of Queens, but in the first season at least it was a reasonable enough sitcom about Kevin, a recently retired police officer, his wife Donna and their three young adult/teenage children. However, from the start of the second season the wife Donna did not return, and it was said that she had died. It isn't without precedent for a major character from a sitcom to die off screen; this was done in the 1980s with Valerie Hogan in 'The Hogan Family' when Valerie Harper left the show and when John Ritter died prematurely in 2003, his 8 Simple Rules character Paul Hennessy died with him. Their deaths were explained and dealt with in the show. But in Kevin Can Wait, the only references to the wife's death were in the first episode of series 2 where Kevin mentions he misses her, and another episode later where Kevin is attending a support group for widowed spouses for all the wrong reasons, as he likes the refreshments. Never once is it said how she died, most of the time it is like she didn't exist and the show was cancelled at the end of series 2, despite the addition of James' former KOQ costar Leah Remini to the cast.

'Til Death - Brad Garrett teamed up with Joely Fisher in this sitcom that commenced in 2007 and ran until 2010. They played a cynical veteran married couple Eddie and Joy, who live next to a young naïve newlywed couple Jeff and Steph, played by Eddie Kay-Thomas and Kat Foster. The main premise of the show was the differences between the couples, and it worked well as a four temperament ensemble - sanguine (Steph), melancholic (Jeff), phlegmatic (Eddie) and choleric (Joy). However, from Series 3 Jeff and Steph left the show, and simply vanished. Their characters were not given a departure scene nor explanation, they were simply gone and never mentioned again. This is Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, named after the oldest brother from Happy Days who vanished from that show and it has happened in quite a few shows. But usually this happens with a character from a larger ensemble cast, it is much rarer for two main characters in a show with a small cast to suffer this fate.

The Brittas Empire - The Brittas Empire was a popular UK sitcom about an obnoxious and officious leisure center manager Gordon Brittas that ran initially from 1990-1994. Initially it ended with many characters leaving the leisure center and having successful lives and careers. It wasn't the strongest ending for a show, but it was an ending that tied everything up. Then a year later, it was decided to resurrect the show, retconning most (but not all) of the original ending. The revived show lasted two years but wasn't a success, and this time when it ended for good they finished it with the absolute worst ending of all - the dreaded it was all a dream.

Laverne & Shirley - This popular sitcom that spun off from Happy Days was initially set in Milwaukee like its parent show, however for the last three seasons it moved to Los Angeles. While believable that Laverne and Shirley might move to California after losing their jobs to automation at the brewery, it was much less believable that ALL of the other characters would give up their jobs and lives to move to LA as well, and live exactly as they did back in Wisconsin.
 

Carbine Chaos

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I really enjoyed the first two seasons of the Scream TV series on MTV, which they followed up with a feature length Halloween special - but then they ditched the entire cast and started anew for the third season (which I haven’t watched yet).

Found it odd because I thought there was some real chemistry with the original cast. Not to mention that the Halloween special had set up a third season in that continuity.
 

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Seeds

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Angel. They took over the evil law firm that they had been fighting all series and started running it. Plus they turned angels love interest for the series into a demon that then had sex with angels son.

Game of thrones: it literally became a spoof of itself in the last season and a half. From dramatic drama to ridiculous comedy mocking itself.

Lost. Oddly enough the time travelling in the second last season was brilliantly done. The last season, however, was an abomination with the smoke men gods.

E street. Home and away type show from the early nineties that decides to introduce a serial killer that then murders everyone in the last season.
 

emuboy

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Angel. They took over the evil law firm that they had been fighting all series and started running it. Plus they turned angels love interest for the series into a demon that then had sex with angels son.

Game of thrones: it literally became a spoof of itself in the last season and a half. From dramatic drama to ridiculous comedy mocking itself.

Lost. Oddly enough the time travelling in the second last season was brilliantly done. The last season, however, was an abomination with the smoke men gods.

E street. Home and away type show from the early nineties that decides to introduce a serial killer that then murders everyone in the last season.

I actually thought of E Street after I posted this last night. Like you said it was a standard enough soapie in its early years, then changed towards the end of its run to become totally unrealistic with the serial killer, a lifelong paraplegic inexplicably finding himself able to walk and IIRC aliens and werewolves too.
 

jackn

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E street. Home and away type show from the early nineties that decides to introduce a serial killer that then murders everyone in the last season.
That sounds great. A home and away type show where the whole cast gets killed would be quite enjoyable.
 

RolandF1

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Sliders. Went from darkly humorous social commentary to movie rip off of the week within season 3, cheap sh*t in season 4, and then utterly worthless cheap sh*t in season 5.

Popular. Was musing take on high school in season 1 to some weird ass stuff in season 2.

Family Matters. Went from.... family matters into more Urkel outlandish science experiments as it went along.

Roseanne. Connors winning the lottery in its last season then taking it back in the final episode, then taking even more back in the revival.

Battlestar Galactica to Galactica 1980...
 
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I really liked Friday Night Lights. Got me into American football. A drama that highlighted football obsession in a small town, mixed with high school life.

In the second season it veered off into a murder/dead body cover up

Got back on track after that but it was an odd step
 

akkaps

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I really liked Friday Night Lights. Got me into American football. A drama that highlighted football obsession in a small town, mixed with high school life.

In the second season it veered off into a murder/dead body cover up

Got back on track after that but it was an odd step
 

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True Blood was a drama series set in a rural town with vampires and had themes about love, life, and what does it mean to be human exist, along with some dark but not too dark humour and periodic flashbacks about vampire history. Around the end of season 3 it turned into a show where anything could be 'funny' and upped the sexy adventures. It also turned its most interesting villain into a good guy not because it made sense but because women viewers wanted to fu** him.

Guess that's a long way of saying seasons 1-2 are good but you should stop there.
 
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JackOutback

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The gold standard has to be Baywatch Nights. Started as a Baywatch spin-off with David Hasselhoff starting up a private detective agency to solve crimes. But with the ratings tanking, they looked around to see what was popular and landed on...the X-Files. So in season 2, he starts investigating the paranormal of Los Angeles beaches, all with a special effects budget that the original Dr Who would have found embarrassing. One such monster was clearly just a pulsing light under bad plastic.
 
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The gold standard has to be Baywatch Nights. Started as a Baywatch spin-off with David Hasselhoff starting up a private detective agency to solve crimes. But with the ratings tanking, they looked around to see what was popular and landed on...the X-Files. So in season 2, he starts investigating the paranormal of Los Angeles beaches, all with a special effects budget that the original Dr Who would have found embarrassing. One such monster was clearly just a pulsing light under bad plastic.
Can't believe I missed this!

You've sold me
 

emuboy

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Australian dramedy 'The Secret Life of Us' was a huge hit when it commenced in 2001, but ratings had softened somewhat by the end of 2003, with a number of popular characters departing from the show in the past two years.

Big changes were made to the show for 2004. Seven characters (two original, three added in 2003, two recurring guest stars) departed, two of the three remaining originals had greatly reduced roles, a host of new 'cool' characters joined and the show went from one male and one female narrator to just one female narrator. These changes made the revamped show seem like a spin off - a very bad spin off - and fans were not impressed. They hated the new 'cool' characters who were just suddenly there without explanation or back story, the changes to the show's structure and that established characters were gone without explanation or further mention. Ratings were abysmal and the show axed after only a month.
 

Cruyff14

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I really enjoyed the first two seasons of the Scream TV series on MTV, which they followed up with a feature length Halloween special - but then they ditched the entire cast and started anew for the third season (which I haven’t watched yet).

Found it odd because I thought there was some real chemistry with the original cast. Not to mention that the Halloween special had set up a third season in that continuity.
Good call on this. It was a good show too.
 

emuboy

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It probably doesn't count so much as the other shows listed, but the world's shortest lived program 'Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos" took a strange turn as follows:

1. 8.30 pm, AEST Thursday 3rd September 1992: Channel 9 begin televising a one off special 'Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos' hosted by Doug Mulray.
2. Viewers in New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania begin watching Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos. One viewer is a Mr. Kerry Packer, Chairman of the 9 Network.
3. 8.30 pm ACST, 9.00 pm AEST - Viewers in South Australia and the Northern Territory begin watching Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos.
4. At the same time an angry Kerry Packer, outraged by content of the show, calls Nine HQ and issues the order "Get this sh*t off the air."
5. The telecast of Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos mysteriously fades away, the 9 logo appears on the screen and the announcer advises that a technical problem is preventing the current show from continuing and an alternate problem will be screened in its place.
6. An episode of Cheers is screened.
7. Viewers on the East Coast see about 30 minutes of ANHV, those in the central states just over 5 minutes and Western Australian viewers do not see the show at all due to the time differences.
8. Doug Mulray is banned from the Nine Network and other heads roll over the debacle the following day.
9. ANHV enters the record books and eternal infamy as the only show cancelled during its only telecast. There was a sketch comedy show called 'Turn On' in America in 1969 which was taken off the air in its first and only show in some states and did not screen at all in others, but it did finish its telecast in some places.
10. In 2008, three years after Kerry Packer's death, the long lost tape of ANHV is discovered in the Nine Sydney archives and screened. Doug Mulray declined to host it (although he had returned to Nine to host another show in 2006) and Bert Newton presented it.
 
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Stranger Things had a random episode based in another town with a band of brand new characters

Didn't go down all that well so I doubt they revisit it. Perhaps were testing the waters for a spin off/expanded universe thing
 

Bomberboyokay

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Stranger Things had a random episode based in another town with a band of brand new characters

Didn't go down all that well so I doubt they revisit it. Perhaps were testing the waters for a spin off/expanded universe thing
And they acted like a bunch of superheroes? 2017 was around the time I got fussier with shows. Hearing that in reviews didn't encourage me to come back for season 2.
 

Bomberboyokay

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Days of our Lives went down the exorcism road in the 90s


The Panel would give updates every so often.
Passions was sort of the inverse of this thread's theme. Daytime soap opera with the supernatural (including a witch and talking doll) when it started 1999 but by the end years later was like the other 5 or 6 US daytime soaps. Apparently. Channel 7 stopped showing it well before that point from memory.

 

emuboy

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More of a strange ending to a series, but late in the last series of Magnum PI which ran from 1980-1988 things took a very strange turn.

The main character of this series was Thomas Magnum, and he lived on Hawaii at the estate of Robin Masters, a multi millionaire author. Also living at the estate is Jonathon Higgins, an uptight Englishman who is the estate manager and a foil to Magnum's laid back American persona. The other two main characters are Rick and TC, and there are a number of recurring characters.

As for Robin Masters himself, he was an unseen character, much like Maris Crane from Frasier, never appearing on screen, but seen and referenced by other characters. Unseen TV characters are hardly rare, but late in the show's run Magnum begins to suspect that Higgins is in fact acclaimed author Robin Masters. Higgins strenuously denies that he is Masters, but later confesses that he is Masters, and wrote the books.

The problem is though that while viewers could not see Masters, the characters on the show could. So who was the 'real' Robin Masters if Higgins was in fact the author? It would have been like Frasier ending with the revelation that Roz Doyle was in fact the unseen Maris Crane.
 

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