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Shows that thrived, got better rating, were just better after a main character LEFT.


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#1 of 62 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted May 19 2008 - 06:43 AM

ok so taking the idea from the other topic.
thanks Kevin for idea.

Has a show been improved in any way after
one of the essential figures left the show.

I guess by improved i mean ratings or
even saved from cancel.
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#2 of 62 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted May 19 2008 - 06:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
ok so taking the idea from the other topic.

Has a show been improved in any way after
one of the essential figures left the show.

I guess by improved i mean ratings or
even saved from cancel.
Would Bewitched qualify? Only the actor left, not the essential figure (Darrin). What about any of the Trek series (such as TNG)? I think the Doctor in that one is sort of a special case, since she left, and then came back in season three.

The one that comes to mind for me is M.A.S.H.. But the question is, did the show improve after Henry left? I have no idea how the ratings fared at that time.

#3 of 62 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted May 19 2008 - 07:29 AM

Not that it was the best thing but Robert Patrick's first season (S8) on The X-Files was much better than David Duchovny's last full season (S7) on the show. I think that losing Duchovny really lit a fire under the writers and Robert Patrick and they turned out very good episodes.

#4 of 62 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted May 19 2008 - 07:56 AM

Angel got much better after the annoying Doyle was dispatched in favor of Wes.

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#5 of 62 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted May 19 2008 - 08:36 AM

Babylon 5. When Michael O'Hare left and Bruce Boxleitner came in. I am sure if Joe see's this thread. He will either agree or chastize me. Posted Image
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#6 of 62 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted May 19 2008 - 10:43 AM

I do think Boxleitner/Sheridan ultimately worked better than O'Hare/Sinclair, and I think the slightly different direction it sent the show in was a good one.

Dick Sargent replaced Dick York because of the latter's health problems, and the basic show didn't change at all. (Sargent even did his best to play Darren more-or-less as York had played the character, to keep things consistent.)

The M*A*S*H situation is a little different. While it started as a mostly ensemble show (granted with two or three characters who were more equal than the others), it pretty quickly turned into The Alan Alda Show with a strong supporting cast. None of the changes in the supporting cast was ultimately going to affect the success of the show as long as Alda was still there and doing good work. That said, many of the changes did improve the show and the writing. Frank Burns was never really a character, he was more of a comedic device. (If you don't believe me, ask Larry Linville, whose description that is.) Henry Blake was a little more of a character than Burns, but that isn't setting the bar too high. Their respective replacements were much better characters, inspired much more interesting stories, and were a better fit for the ensemble. Charles Emerson Winchester was a formidable antagonist for Hawkeye. Frank was strawman. Hawkeye could outsmart Frank with half his brain tied behind his back and while nursing a near-fatal hangover. Charles often outsmarted Hawkeye. Col. Potter brought experience and gravitas and a certain world-weariness that only a character on his third war could bring to the show. He added a longer perspective to the show's extended meditation on the madness and waste of war.

One thing the many cast changes over the years probably did was help keep the show fresh and thus running longer than might have happened otherwise. As long as Alda's Hawkeye was the headliner, you could move other characters in and out of the basic slots of Unit Commander, Best Friend, and Anti-Hawkeye without screwing up the formula while opening up new stories and relationships for the lead.

Law & Order is another show that benefited from a strong basic formula and many "roles" within the series (DA, senior ADA, junior ADA(s), Senior Detective, Junior Detective, squad commander.) The allowed it to reinvent itself every couple of years by gradually replacing the actors in various roles - while maintaining continuity by having many long-running characters overlap as the transitions took place. But it is hard to say that any particular actor or group of actors "saved" the show at any point by leaving it. (I know that Benjamin Bratt gets a lot of knocks for his tenure on L&O, and I don't dispute that the period when he was there was a particularly weak one. But I think that was more a matter of a network and/or studio decision to try to focus more on the regular's personal lives, and introduce more serial story elements, two ideas that didn't work with the series format at all.)

Night Court was a good series from the start that really hit its stride when a particular core group of actors came together, and kept that level of quality up until the final two seasons (the last of which should never have been produced) when the network decided to end the show, then confusingly brought it back for one season too many. But, again, I don't see that losing any particular character "saved the show".

One actor/character who managed to keep a series alive and then thriving for a surprising amount of time was Sandy Duncan. There haven't been many series in the history of television that lost the lead actor - for whom the series was named - and gone on for several years. But when Valerie Harper walked off her series Valerie, the network changed the title to Valerie's Family, brought Duncan in as some relative of the now "out of town" Valerie, and kept the show going. When it was clear that Harper was never coming back they quietly killed her character off-screen and after a decent mourning period changed the name once again, this time to The Hogan Family and the show just kept going.

Regards,

Joe

#7 of 62 OFFLINE   John_Lee

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Posted May 19 2008 - 12:56 PM

Not sure if it's the same thing, but AI got significantly better when Seacrest/Dunkleman cut its ranks in half.

#8 of 62 OFFLINE   Phil Kim

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Posted May 20 2008 - 05:04 AM

Not sure if these characters count as main character, but...

Although I liked the original cast, I thought Cheers improved when Woody Harrelson and Kirstie Alley joined the cast.

And I am probably in a minority here, but I couldn't stand Suzanne Somers character on Three's Company. I much prefer later seasons with Don Knotts and Priscilla Barnes.

#9 of 62 OFFLINE   MishaLauenstein

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Posted May 20 2008 - 09:22 AM

Depends if you were a fan of Valerie or Valerie's Family.

Also, I can't help but think that Spencer was better off without Chad Lowe.
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#10 of 62 OFFLINE   Britton

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Posted May 20 2008 - 12:13 PM

I see that Law & Order was mentioned, but it's a perfect example. The show got even more popular and the ratings did increase after Michael Moriarty left and Sam Waterston came on board as EADA McCoy. However, I'm not sure how much of that had to do with that change rather than the fact that the show started out with a smaller following that grew and grew with each passing season. Although I preffered Moriarty's Ben Stone, I must say that Waterston and Jill Hennessy were by far the best prosecution team of the show's entire run.

#11 of 62 OFFLINE   SD_Brian

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Posted May 20 2008 - 03:58 PM

The Facts of Life got better after they ditched most of their first-season cast and narrowed it down to Jo, Natalie, Blair and Tootie. It still wasn't great television or anything but it WAS better.

#12 of 62 OFFLINE   Jerry Almeida

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Posted May 20 2008 - 10:14 PM

A Different World had a pretty long run despite losing Lisa Bonet after the first season.
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#13 of 62 OFFLINE   Dale MA

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Posted May 20 2008 - 11:17 PM

When Sasha Alexander left the cast of NCIS, I felt that the character of Ziva David who replaced her was far more interesting and fit right in with the rest of the team.


Whilst not a major character I think that when John Diehl left the cast of Miami Vice there was a shift of dynamics that helped strengthen the darker tone of season three.

#14 of 62 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted May 20 2008 - 11:32 PM

The only one I can think of at the moment is CHEERS. Shelly Long out/Kristy Alley in! With all due respects to Long, didn't that trigger some higher ratings? (edit: oops, someone else already listed it)
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#15 of 62 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted May 21 2008 - 12:49 AM

Jeffrey Hunter out, William Shatner in (for Star Trek). Although I liked Hunter, I think the show got better after Shatner took over the role of Captain.



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#16 of 62 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted May 21 2008 - 03:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ockeghem
Jeffrey Hunter out, William Shatner in (for Star Trek).
Good one!

I agree. Hunter was great in The Cage. He would've done fine had be made more. Not sure if he would've outdone "the shat" though. Plus, doesn't Hunter have a beautiful singing voice? (joke)
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#17 of 62 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted May 21 2008 - 04:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radioman970
Good one!

I agree. Hunter was great in The Cage. He would've done fine had be made more. Not sure if he would've outdone "the shat" though. Plus, doesn't Hunter have a beautiful singing voice? (joke)
Radioman,

William Shatner was specifically chosen for the role because he lacked the enormous ego of one Jeffrey Hunter, and also because he possesses an incredible singing voice. Thankfully, Shatner has remained humble in all respects as the years have gone by. In fact, he was turned down for numerous roles because he lacked self-confidence.

#18 of 62 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted May 21 2008 - 08:06 AM

I'll echo NCIS. Though I liked Sasha Alexander's Kate, the interaction between Ziva and the team has made for interesting episodes.

#19 of 62 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted May 21 2008 - 08:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radioman970
The only one I can think of at the moment is CHEERS. Shelly Long out/Kristy Alley in! With all due respects to Long, didn't that trigger some higher ratings? (edit: oops, someone else already listed it)

Actually, according to The Complete Directory of Prime-Time TV Shows, it didn't. Here's the ratings for Cheers:

1982-1983: not in top 30 (supposedly 74th out of 98)
1983-1984: not in top 30
1984-1985: 19.7 rating, 12th rank, tied with "Hotel"
1985-1986: 23.7 rating, 5th rank
1986-1987: 27.2 rating, 3rd rank
1987-1988: 23.4 rating, 3rd rank (nearly 4 point dip)
1988-1989: 22.3 rating, 4th rank
1989-1990: 22.7 rating, 3rd rank (marginal increase)
1990-1991: 21.3 rating, 1st rank
1991-1992: 17.5 rating, 4th rank
1992-1993: 16.1 rating, 8th rank, tied with CBS Sunday Movie

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I will not support anything your company produces until then.


#20 of 62 OFFLINE   Rex Bachmann

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Posted May 21 2008 - 08:35 AM

Joseph DeMartino wrote (post #6):


Quote:
The M*A*S*H situation . . . many of the changes did improve the show and the writing.

I couldn't disagree more. After Mr. Linville left, the show stopped being a comedy and turned into a tedious, preachy psuedomelodrama and---well, yes, you got part of it right---"Alan Alda [Ego-Trip-of-the-Week] Show". For me it became unwatchable. [Yeeesh!]

Quote:
Frank Burns was never really a character, he was more of a comedic device.

That used to be called a "comic foil".

Quote:
(If you don't believe me, ask Larry Linville, whose description that is.)

And if you get an answer, please tell us how you'll've pulled off that neat trick.


I'd suggest NYPD Blue as an example for this thread. The loss of David ("Mr. One-Note") Caruso ("Detective John Kelly") would improve almost any show he had appeared in, in my not so humble opinion.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 



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