This question comes to mind because I recently watched the premieres of the two new shows BELIEVE and RESURRECTION. Now I have to admit both shows have intriguing premises and the couple of episodes I've watched thus far have been well worth the time. But still, I can't help but wonder how long before:
- all the running from the bad guys on BELIEVE gets old?
- the bad guys finally catch up with the telekinetic wunderkin and her "dad" on BELIEVE?
- the bad guys really are shown to be no threat on BELIEVE because they are just too lame to catch wunderkin and dad despite numerous "close calls"?
- it is figured out on RESURRECTION just who (or what) these returned dead folks truly are?
- the confrontation with whatever the returned folks are on RESURRECTION comes to a head and writers have to try and invent a reason to continue the show beyond this logical end?
Both these shows would work best, in my opinion, as limited-run series of predetermined length. (And the length could be predetermined to be one or two T.V. seasons, or just 12 shows. As long as there would be an expected point where the writers know they can conclude a concept that is limited in scope). But as "unlimited continuing" shows, where execs really expect to get at least 100 episodes so to foster a syndication deal on reruns, they are very likely to stall and peter out in quality because beyond a certain logical point there is just nowhere to go.
It happened with LOST (let's be honest). It happened with FRINGE. It's happened with other shows that were far less commercially successful: like that one about the people who lost a certain amount of time from their lives when the world stopped. (Can't even remember the name of that one and it went on to have what is considered one of the worst finales ever in television history.)
Here's another example: the scifi series V. The original was one of the best mini-series of all time. Then they did follow-up mini-series to the original: bad but bearable cause at least they realized there was a limited set of circumstances to draw on and they would have to end when they came to that point. Then they tried a continuing series: it was patently awful and silly as well. Then they recently tried a "reboot" continuing series: again, it just had nowhere to go beyond a fixed point and stalled out big-time in viewer interest (because viewers knew there should be a logical end and yet there wouldn't be).
And then there is the counter-example of UNDER THE DOME, which was a mini-series the execs thought half-way through its initial run it would be cool to expand to a future continuing series. Seriously? It wound up with there being no ending to the original mini-series even though there was no more steam in the story. (It had actually gotten patently ridiculous.)
So what is wrong with taking these very intriguing concepts and just letting them be limited-run series, with a definite beginning and a real end? Why milk these concepts beyond what they can provide in the way of true entertainment value?