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TV Shows: How Much Effort for a Second Chance?

The number of classic television shows that I’ve never seen an episode of is truly embarrassing. If you list any ten shows that ‘most everyone lists as a great series, chances are I’ll be lacking at least a couple from my personal viewing. Which leads me to wonder: How many people need to tell you to watch something before you’ll finally do it?

I can’t be the only one who has this problem. I’ve been thinking about it after the one-two punch of dropping Person of Interest after losing interest a few episodes in, and being told by more than one person whose tastes I admire that New Girl has surprisingly redeemed itself in later episodes after the truly dire pilot: What if first impressions actually suck, in the long term?

The problem is, of course, that there’s too much television to watch and not enough hours in the day to watch it. I wish that I had time to try everything out for a reasonable chunk, but that’s just not possible. So, I’m really curious: What does it take for you to give a show a second chance – or, for that matter, a first chance? Is it the number of people recommending it to you, or the quality of those people? And, for that matter, how long will you stick with something that you’re not particularly enjoying, based upon someone’s recommendation? Use the comments below and enlighten me.


  • Rick Jones, really

    It takes more than most shows have for me to give it a second chance. I dropped 24 about halfway into the first season, probably right around the second or third time that Jack’s daughter was threatened by a cougar. I looked in again a couple of seasons later and actually watched for a day (of show time). Thought I’d come back to the show and then found myself just deleting previously recorded episodes without even watching. Never even missed it.

    One show that did make for a successful return engagement was, FSM forgive me, the Big Bang Theory. I watched a couple of episodes and found it was a humorless mishmash of tired, trite stereotypes, ludicrous situations and horribly written dialogue. Finally, after hearing all three of my sons rave about it for a couple of years, I checked back in. And, yes, it was all those things I remembered, but this time it was funny. Who knew?

    As to your example, NEW GIRL, it’s going to take a lot longer than that before I can watch that show again. I had to turn the pilot off before the halfway mark. The stupid burned just too much. 

  • kalorama

    The first episode of New Girl’s was horrifically bad, due largely to Deschanel’s arch, overly-mannered line readings and bizarre interpretations of what constitutes cuteness. Unless that’s changed (and the promos suggest it hasn’t) one chance is all it gets from me.

  • Len Berry

    I find Person of Interest a fascinating show.  It may not be the greatest work of television in history, but I think it always creates original approaches to what should be a cookie-cutter concept.  Michael Emerson continues to show why he’s earned so many Emmy awards and Jim Caveziel walks a think line between mystery man and detailed protagonist.

    Person of Interest feels to me like some forgotten child of Alias and the movie Memento.

  • sandwich eater

    My attitude is that if it doesn’t entertain me right away, why waste my time.  Sometimes if I find the premise intriguing I’ll keep watching hoping a show will get better, but if it doesn’t improve I’ll eventually give up.  Our lives are finite, why waste them watching TV shows we don’t enjoy?

  • sandwich eater

    Also, TV creators need to realize that a show’s pilot is their pitch to the viewers as well as the execs.  Why should I tune in if the pilot was dull?  When you meet a new person they say the first impression is the most important thing, I think the same applies to TV shows.

  • ATK

    Mostly what gets recomended to me are movies. And in that regards it can sometimes be very hard to finally pick one up and watch it. I think it has to do less with the recomendations it has been given but more of the hurdle of the unknown. For example it seems easier to sometimes watch a movie if I know the director or has an actor i like. It took me forever to finally sit down and watch RED and I loved it. But in the same breath it took me equally as long to watch Skyline and now I am missing and hour and a half of my life that I can’t get back.

    If I could recomend one show to watch (on current TV because otherwise the answer is always going to be Firefly) would be Community. It is very low on raitings but incredibly enjoyable for the meta inclined.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. When I watched Firefly for the first time (God bless my soul) I thought it was stupid and corny. Thank God I gave it another chance cause that truly would have been a terrible life from that point on without it. Same went for Community.

  • Keptpics

    I give new shows 6 episodes (unless the pilot is really horrible!). I think 6 episodes allows a show to find it’s voice,and it’s feet, and if I don’t like it by then, then bye bye.

  • EdW

    I never judge a show solely by its pilot episode, good or bad. Good pilots can sometimes fool you because they have higher budgets than the series will have per episode. Bad pilots are usually full of exposition trying to explain the overall concept of the show, or the cast hasn’t jelled yet, or the writers are still trying to find their voice. I try to give a show who’s concept I like at least a month. But if I find a couple episodes stacking up on my DVR they that’s when I decide to cut.

  • Anonymous

    New Girl is really good. Nobody likes quirky women anymore?