One of the upsides to having a TV show is that if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have multiple seasons to iron out any kinks and develop your project into something special. Without that time, who knows what would have become of some of the medium’s most famous programs. Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Great TV Shows That Struggled in Their First Season.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Two decades after The Original Series went off the air, this classic sci-fi franchise returned to the small screen with a new cast of characters including now fan-favorites like Captain Picard and Worf. Though the first season scored high ratings, time has illustrated it’s somewhat problematic with clichéd storylines, bizarre tonal shifts, and questionable casting choices. Starting as lackluster when compared to its predecessor, The Next Generation began to gel once a clear direction was established and its ensemble developed better chemistry. Later seasons showcase an immediate improvement and the TNG crew is now as beloved as Kirk and Spock.
Parks and Recreation
Originally pitched as a spin-off of NBC’s hit show The Office – though that angle was trashed in development - the first season of Parks and Rec tried to replicate the harsh and dry tone of that show and was a far cry from the charming series audiences came to love. One particular problem was the characterization, as even Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope was written very one-note and came across as unlikable. Fortunately, the show runners spent the next years treating the characters in a much more sympathetic manner, which made the show a good-natured piece of satire that viewers enjoyed seeing over and over again.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
One of Joss Whedon’s most famous creations, Buffy had rough sledding during her initial year on TV. A follow-up to a mostly forgotten movie of the same name, Whedon struggled to even get it on the air, and when he finally did, many wondered why he wanted to. The first season is seen by some as being cheesy, and the poor fight choreography combined with questionable camerawork didn’t do it any favors either. There’s nothing wrong with a little narrative cheddar, but the tone and pacing of that first season was so displaced compared to what came after it, the episodes are jarring to watch today.
The Walking Dead
AMC’s zombie hit has always been a ratings juggernaut, but the six-episode first season will make newcomers question what the big deal is. The season plays out more like an experiment than a fully realized show, with incredibly slow pacing, meandering digressions, shallow characterizations, and heavy-handed foreshadowing of things to come. Not to mention, the finale was more head scratching than anything, failing to live up to the open-ended premise of the show. The run may not be horrible per say but it certainly lacks the focus that ended up making The Walking Dead one of TV’s elite dramas of the modern age.
“The show about nothing” is hailed today as one of TV’s most influential works, but even Larry David couldn’t spin the first season into comedic gold. With only five episodes to work with, the writers didn’t have much time to dive into the existentialist humor and absurd sight gags that would become series trademarks. Not only were the actors still feeling out their now-iconic characters, Seinfeld was slow to fully embrace its premise of the misadventures of four New Yorkers who are truly miserable people to the world around them. Without that, the show didn’t have the same bite that later seasons would showcase to Emmy-winning results.