I'm spending my evening watching the first season of Seinfeld, because what is else is there to do on a Friday night? Go out with people? See friends? I did that, sort of. Earlier today.
You know what's surprisingly good. As in better than I remember it? The first season of Seinfeld. (This information should have been obvious based upon previous information). It's one of those things that seem not as good as they were in hindsight - like, for me, the Tenth Doctor's episodes, Toy Story 3, and early Futurama - but actually hold up much better than I would have thought. More often than not, it's even better than when you first saw it, and you gain a newfound appreciation for them. To me, the first five, unsure fresh-off-the-boat episodes of Seinfeld have that quality. You remember the weird 80s humour, the odd sets, Kessler, and it all forms an image of a show that, if it were made today, would not have made it past its first season. It would have been axed and replaced with some midseason soon-to-be-cancelled Chuck Lorre-produced garbage (sorry, Chuck Lorre, but the only thing you've written that was any good was this song. And it included the lyrics "he's a radical rat"), and the world would be short one of the greatest sitcoms ever produced.
"Hi Kessler, how's the Soup Commie?"
"Oh hey Steinfield. He's just hanging out with Oldman"
This is especially worth thinking about when you consider the initial reviews during test screenings of the pilot were atrocious, how it even got given a full season order to begin with is beyond me. But this was 1990, when studios weren't axing shows the second they showed signs of failure (or even when they don't. Legend of Korra got moved online for no reason midway through its stellar third season), and I wonder; maybe The Crazy Ones or The Michael J Fox Show or that terrible Matthew Perry show (pick one) could become the new Seinfeld if just given the time grow. I mean, I doubt it, I seriously doubt either show would have become anything else, but it's the fact that so few shows are given a chance now, while some happily are constantly bring themselves back from the dead Solomon Grundy-style like Community.
It's the early word from critics. That's what can turn the tide of a show. People have so much online choice that if they hear this new CBS sitcom isn't very good, they'll look around online and find something more obscure and more fun. It means that small shows like Nathan for You or Key and Peele can find an audience, but it also means that many studios aren't giving other shows enough of a chance to prove themselves. All of this does make me think about those ace predictions you see floating around the internet now. Old reviews predicting the downfall of Apple, or how the internet will never take off. Maybe if you want to be big, like really be big, you have to have people predict just how unbig you'll be. But maybe that's all in the past. Now, if you're not perfect to start with, you may as well not even try. Or be Chuck Lorre I guess.