Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Must See TV

Tonight was Frasier's series finale, which I thought was much less satisfying the Friends. It takes a fair amount of nerve to end a show after so many years with open questions, namely did Frasier pass on the San Francisco job and travel to Chicago to pursue the love of his life, or was that just an attempt to extend the relationship? It was really more of a season finale, in my opinion. I also think that including a wedding, baby, career change, and relationship decision in a single episode was ambitious, leaving everything forced and limited.

Last night, I had some similar hesitations about The West Wing. It continues to be my favorite show on television, but the show, in my opinion, is not quite what it once was. More and more, it seems to rely on traditional television formulas for dramatic effect and the dialog is not nearly as surprising, provocative, or humorous as in the past.

Lest I come across as a television curmudgeon, I don't know what artistic endeavor would be more challenging that writing for a television series. To produce 25+ episodes year after year while maintaing the same level of creativity and originality that defined the initial season and remaining true to the characters you developed is a mind-boggling assignment. The fact that we have even a small number of examples of this amazes me.