Saturday, September 30, 2006

TV Shows Written by Baboons

There's a scenario I'd like to discuss with you today, class.

Our scenario begins with a room containing a set of stairs. At the top of the stairs is a banana.

We then add six baboons to the room.

If at any time any of the baboons goes up the stairs to get the banana, all six baboons are instantly pummelled by water from fire hoses.

Baboons are not stupid, well not completely. They will eventually learn to not go up the stairs. In fact, in short order all six will learn that going up the stairs is a very bad thing for everyone in the room.

Next, we replace one of the baboons with a new baboon. This newbie will instantly head to the stairs to get the banana. However, we won't have to turn on the fire hoses on this guy, because the entire troop of baboons will turn on him, pound on him and do whatever it takes to prevent him from going up the stairs.

Now we have five baboons who all experienced the fire hoses, and one who knows it's best for his survival that he stay away from the stairs.

Similarly, as we replace the original baboons, each newcomer will learn that stairs are bad. In fact, baboon #6 will be taking part in beating the newbies because, well because he can.

Once we have replaced all of the original baboons, we are left with a complete troop who have been trained by other baboons to not go up the stairs even if they don't know the real reason why.

So, what does this have to do with TV? Case in point: THE SIMPSONS.

THE SIMPSONS was brilliant in it's first five years. But over the course of time, the show began losing the core group of writers responsible for that brilliance. One by one, they were replaced by people who had seen the show, but not been part of its creation. The replacements thought they knew the show, but in truth, only knew it from the surface. Only the originators knew the characters beyond what was seen on the screen.

The result was a slow turn away from the show's original path, and ultimately a drop in quality. This was magnified when the second wave of creative folks gave way to a third wave, who knew the characters even less since they were trained by people who didn't know the characters as well as the originators.

Thus, by season 13, THE SIMPSONS was being written by baboons who had no idea why they weren't supposed to go up the stairs.

Fortunately for THE SIMPSONS, the show has started regrouping and calling some of the show's original writers back into the fold.

Unfortunately for shows like GILMORE GIRLS, there won't be fifteen years in which the cycle will be able to come full circle.

So, there it is. When I say that a show is written by baboons, I'm not calling the writers idiots. It's not their fault they're not as good as the first troop. They just don't know any better.

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