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Great shows that got bad, then got good again

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As I'm making my way through a very long Buffy/Angel rewatch, it got me thinking about how bad Angel got in Season 4, then bounced back and delivered one of the best final seasons of any show I've watched.

Usually when a show jumps the shark, there's no coming back, but what other great shows have managed to survive at least one shitty season and later returned to form, or in Angel's case, got even better?

Try to keep spoiler talk to a minimum, but if you must, tag 'em.

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Guest mr. potato head

The West Wing comes to mind right away for me. Two seasons of utter greatness, dips a bit in season three, ramps back up in season four as Sorkin leaves the show with a massive cliffhanger. Season five is the low point, with the new writers trying to recapture the magic of the early years but mostly failing. By season six, the election plotline puts a good portion of the show away from the White House, and by season seven we're pretty much entirely on the election, which is not at all like the show in its first two years, but quite entertaining in its own way.

I'd also argue 30 Rock had a real renaissance with this past season (and to a lesser extent the season before) after becoming quite tiring.

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24. Seasons 1 thru 5 were great, but season 6 ended up being horrible. But it ended up bouncing back with a great season 7 and a good final 8th season.

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The first five seasons of ER were great, but after George Clooney left, things fell apart with a bit. Season six saw the regular cast completely swell, in spite of losing three regular actors. By the end of the eighth season, Eriq la Salle and Anthony Edwards departed, and the show steadily got better towards its final season after a few dismal years.

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I'll throw out a couple more:

How I Met Your Mother fell off a bit in Seasons 3 and 4, never quite entering suck territory, but it's recaptured a lot of its magic in the last two seasons.

South Park has gone through this process a number of times, though if you ask Matt and Trey now, they'd say the show did not start off great and they've basically disowned seasons 1-3.

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I really think South Park got great with Season 5 and has continued on, with, of course, there being a couple of bad episodes here and there. Seasons 1 thru 4 has not aged well imo.

The last couple of seasons of The Simpsons have been good, doesn't come close to the greatness it used to be, but definitely better than when it went into that horrible slump.

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House MD was great for the 1st three seasons, lost a little steam with all the new characters in the season 4 (but was still solid), had a trainwreck of season 5 before a great rebound in season 6.

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Hell, put any Star Trek spinoff on here. All started off boring and slow, then something clicks and blammo! Even Enterprise :shifty:

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I'm really hoping Dexter will find its way into this thread after this season.

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Lost. Season 3 (or 4?) it just stalled for like half a season that's almost painful to rewatch now.

Only Fools and Horses, they got pretty poor towards the end of the regular series then got good when they came back for Christmas specials. Though they then soured it a bit with the latter 3 Christmas specials which were funny but kinda ruined the fairytale ending.

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I remember feeling this way about Frasier, but it's been so long since I watched it. It might have been during the stretch that he was out of work that I felt it was lacking.

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I'm really hoping Dexter will find its way into this thread after this season.

I think Dexter had two dips - season 3 and season 6, so yes I certainly hope it bounces back again.

I'm also hoping The Mentalist recovers from a woeful dip this past season but I'm almost certain it won't now.

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Friends, definitely. The first five or six seasons were great, then season seven and eight were woeful before bouncing back with a great season nine. The last season had its ups and downs, though.

Law & Order went through this a few times, as did SVU.

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House MD was great for the 1st three seasons, lost a little steam with all the new characters in the season 4 (but was still solid), had a trainwreck of season 5 before a great rebound in season 6.

I disagree with this. I don't feel House even fits this thread. House started off just pretty well and got better and better with each season after that (yes, I include the unique events of Season 5). Until Season 6. Season 6 started strong as all hell, then began the show's gradual descent which culminated in one of the most disappointing finales I can remember.

House is almost the epitome of The Rise and Fall of a TV Series. Once it fell - even though it was a gradual fall - it never really recovered.

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it got me thinking about how bad Angel got in Season 4,

I agree with that 100%. Annoyed me how much the people behind the scenes big upped it. Something about how every season has a few clunkers in it but that they reckoned that season 4 was pretty close to perfect.

Also agree with you about Angel season 5. Was a rather unique twist and I found myself really getting into it.

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House MD was great for the 1st three seasons, lost a little steam with all the new characters in the season 4 (but was still solid), had a trainwreck of season 5 before a great rebound in season 6.

I disagree with this. I don't feel House even fits this thread. House started off just pretty well and got better and better with each season after that (yes, I include the unique events of Season 5). Until Season 6. Season 6 started strong as all hell, then began the show's gradual descent which culminated in one of the most disappointing finales I can remember.

House is almost the epitome of The Rise and Fall of a TV Series. Once it fell - even though it was a gradual fall - it never really recovered.

I couldn't disagree more (obviously). Season 5 was a trainwreck.

Foreteen was a an annoying and wasteful story, Kutner suicide just seemed very unnecessary. Cuddy baby stuff and House flirtations were fine I supposed. It is the only season that I just feel like House is thrust into the background, until he starts hallucinating, which in the way it was done just made it feel as if the show had jumped the shark.

I hadn't found anyone who disliked the season 6 finale until now, and I actually think it may have been best if the series ended there.

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I don't have one that fits individual seasons, but I found it interesting that Veronica Mars was really no good in season 3 until the arc that tied up the end of the show. It was like cancellation freed them from annoying strawmen and storylines with muddled messages.

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Heroes. Season one was pretty awesome, season two dipped and it felt like they were just treading water until the fourth season, which was pretty good.

This. Season four wasn't without fault, but it's jump in quality from S2 and S3 was fantastic. The entire carnival arc was great. I would have loved it more if...

... Noah or Claire had died, preferably Claire.

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I don't have one that fits individual seasons, but I found it interesting that Veronica Mars was really no good in season 3 until the arc that tied up the end of the show. It was like cancellation freed them from annoying strawmen and storylines with muddled messages.

It probably was. The CW destroyed the show.

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I'm gonna say Twin Peaks. The first season and a half are some of the best television I've ever watched.

But after

the reveal of Laura Palmer's murder

the show took a real notable dip in quality, to the point where it was a bit of a struggle to make it through a few episodes, only for the last few episodes to go back to being fantastic - with one of the best finales ever.

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Pah, I liked House throughout. Every series had something different going for it and really liked every different angle they took. I could name a few top quality, excellent episodes from every series.

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Pah, I liked House throughout. Every series had something different going for it and really liked every different angle they took. I could name a few top quality, excellent episodes from every series.

Whilst I probably side with you on this discussion, I think...

The entire Cuddy storyline became shit in season five - the hallucination thing in the finale was actually good on it's own merit, but it never quite went in an interesting direction that wasn't more "Oh no, they can't be be together cause work/baby/lucas/prison". They missed so many chances to put the two together, and whilst I can't say I ever really wanted Cuddy/House, when it did come, it was far too late. I also think the final seasons (five through eight) suffered from having to do twenty odd seasons every year, and they became burnt out. BUT, the episode with Mos Def was quality (Locked In). Each season has great episodes, although you get that more with the episodic nature of House MD much more than you would if they didn't have that formula to fall back on.

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