I find myself in an odd situation. I'm watching three old TV shows on DVD, and they've kind of synched up so that they've all reached the point of changing casts near the end of their run. People lose their shit over TV shows that suddenly have drastic cast changes. Not me. I mourn for the past, of course, but I look forward to any new cool shit that might be in store.
Take STARGATE SG1, for example. (And STARGATE ATLANTIS, for that matter.) I always loved the show, but it went over several personnel changes over the years. I'm totally happy with how it turned out, though. Great characters were replaced with great characters. That's the key: you can't get shit shit to replace cool shit.
But with the changes in these three shows? I'm a bit nervous. Let's break it down a bit.
MAVERICK. I've been a huge fan of the show my entire life (for more evidence, see this old entry in the Goodnight, Fuckers series), but I've never seen anything beyond two episodes of the fourth season. Why? No one gave a shit about them. Not even Columbia House wanted to bring them back. Let's face it: James Garner is the best Maverick you can get. Jack Kelly is great, but he just can't match Garner's charisma. I just got season 4 on DVD, and Garner is only in one episode, which was filmed for the third season but got delayed due to contract disputes. He's replaced by Roger Moore, a cousin Maverick from abroad. I like Moore, but I just can't see how he can fill Garner's shoes. Not to mention the fact that there's another Maverick cousin that's going to be introduced soon. Jack Kelly's Bart Maverick is great, but I don't think he can carry the series without Garner's Bret.
21 JUMP STREET. I never thought I'd like this show, but I got the first season for a dollar. I can't express how surprised I was at how good it was. Yet the final season? Johnny Depp left after one episode (which was filmed for the previous season; sound familiar?), and Dustin Nguyen doesn't even make an appearance. Their replacements? Eh, they're less than inspiring. I don't have a great deal of hope for the rest of this final season.
SLIDERS. When this show was first being aired, I kind of made fun of my brothers for liking it. The production value was awful, and it had the fat kid from STAND BY ME as the lead. But . . . they turned me on this one. One of them got me the first two seasons for Christmas, and I couldn't help but be drawn into it. The production value is still awful, but the stories are amazing. The characters are top notch. But . . . we lost one of them last season. We lost another one this season. I've been warned we're going to lose yet another later this season, to be replaced by a brother. This sounds disastrous. When you use a sibling to replace a main character, it's always desperate. But I've made it this far, so you can be sure I'm in it until the end.
It's sad, because you know that such shake-ups are ALWAYS about the actors getting fucked in contract negotiations, but sometimes, it really does lead to great storytelling. Not often, but sometimes. I'll let you know how I feel about these three shows, when all is said and done. (And they really need to release the final season of MAVERICK soon.)