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Dork Age / Live-Action TV

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  • The sixth season of 24 tried to shake up the previously-established formula with a number of surprising changes while still keeping the status quo. On paper, the season's plot probably seemed like a good idea — Jack Bauer, who has been released from Chinese custody, spends the season trying to atone for his past sins while embroiled in a battle against Middle Eastern terrorists and duplicitous family members. In practice, the season turned out to be a mess — Jack was working with CTU again (for a reason that stretched believability after five seasons of the same thing), characters dropped in and out of the plot, potential season-long storylines (the effects of a nuclear bomb detonation in California) were never capitalized on, several returning characters got a "X goes through Hell" storyline, and the entire affair was bogged down in ridiculous family drama involving Jack's brother's wife and her child, as well as Jack's father (who was a corrupt executive). Following this season (and the lowest ratings in the show's history), FOX "rebooted" the show, moved it to the other side of the continent, and jettisoned most of the previous cast and locations.
    And, while recovering in the ratings, critically the following season still overall did pretty poorly. The season was packed to the brim with tons of poorly received replacements and brand-new characters that were not liked by most, with only a few actually getting any genuine acclaim, and one major character in the series returning only to go through a very controversial twist and revelation that left a massive Broken Base at best. All of this was coupled with an infamous story arc that left Jack sidelined for nearly half the season and oftentimes completely Out of Focus, and then ultimately saved by a blatant Deus ex Machina. All this led to the show being completely revamped again with yet another, almost entirely brand new cast and setting brought in for the season after that (which unsurprisingly turned out to be the final season). That one had its detractors as well and continued the rot for a bit, though ultimately, the majority of the fans of the show did feel it (finally) managed to improve itself by the time it was over.
  • Seasons 7-10 of All That are often looked at by older fans with scorn. To go back a bit, following the sixth seasonnote , Nickelodeon temporarily suspended production to start from scratch. Just like with Season 6 of Saturday Night Live back in 1980, All That relaunched in 2002 with an entirely new cast. Fans seem to feel that, save for Lisa Foiles (often singled out as the most talented among the new crop of kids), the new cast weren't as charismatic or had as much chemistry as the one from the "golden age". Also, by this point, All That had all but lost its unique urban-influenced edgenote  and sense of diversitynote . Season 7 in particular also had an overabundance of "special guest stars", which took too much focus away from cast themselves. By this time, All That did away with familiar elements from the past like Vital Informationnote , the big ear of corn, Kevin Kopelow as the stage manager, the cast members saying "Let's give a round a sound..." while introducing the musical guests, and the announcer saying "Fresh out the box..." prior to TLC's theme song. Meanwhile, fans argued that the skits by this time, such as "Sugar and Coffee" and "Randy Quench", were too predictable, too reliant on grossouts and Toilet Humour, and based on already extremely thin premises that were eventually stretched too far. All That even resorted to recycling the famous Good Burger sketch, with Ryan Coleman as Ed. There were, however, some key milestones that should be noted from this era, such as the nationwide contest to search for the "funniest kid in America"note  and All That celebrating its tenth anniversary with a one-hour special leading up to the start of Season 10. Despite these transactions, Nickelodeon believed that the show, just like in Season 6, had run its course, and All That was canceled in 2005. All That would however, eventually resume production almost 15 years later.
  • Arrow had a Dork Age comprising of seasons three and four, in which Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle took over as showrunners from Andrew Kreisberg. This includes Sara being Stuffed into the Fridge in the season three premiere, later coming Back from the Dead and becoming one of the main characters on the Spin-Off Legends of Tomorrow, and allowing Laurel to become Black Canary (though she managed to get Rescued from the Scrappy Heap), the Romantic Plot Tumor involving Oliver and Felicity (which resulted in Felicity going from Ensemble Dark Horse to Base-Breaking Character to Scrappy), the overuse of flashbacks, Roy being Put on a Bus, mediocre plots and most controversially, Laurel getting Killed Off for Real in season four. Despite this, the crossover with Constantine was considered to be one of the best things from it and the Dork Age ended with the well-received season 5, which served as a Revisiting the Roots season and concluded the five-year flashback subplot and showrunners Guggenheim and Mericle left after the divisive season 6 and was replaced by the better-regarded Beth Schwartz for the show's final two seasons.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season 4 is sometimes mentioned as a Dork Age, given the awkward Initiative storyline, the introduction of the widely unpopular Riley as Buffy's rebound love interest, and above all, the episode "Beer Bad" about a beer that turns people into primitive savages, although at least that episode has the excuse of being a failed grab at government money. On the other hand, this season also produced the Emmy-nominated episode "Hush", regarded as one of the show's best and scariest.
    • The UPN years are agreed to be a Dork Age by fans:
      • The infamous sixth season is frequently regarded as a Dork Age for the titular heroine, in which her traumatic resurrection from heaven is explored so realistically that she loses all her (previously characteristic) warmth, passion, sense of humor, and interest in the world around her, becoming a pale and often unwatchable imitation of her former self. The supporting cast doesn't get it much better, either: Willow's magic addiction metaphor is simultaneously anvilicious and a lore trainwreck given that it was never portrayed as such in prior episodes, the death of Willow's girlfriend Tara came off as a blatant fridging, Dawn's constant complaining got really annoying, the dissolution of Xander and Anya's marriage was forced, Spike reached the depths of his Badass Decay, and the Trio's actions were just... stupid. At least Buffy had an excuse. In the season's favor, it did give fans "Once More with Feeling", widely considered among the show's best episodes.
      • Season 7, meanwhile, had the change of Buffy into a full-fledged Knight Templar, Willow's inability to use magic for the better part of the season, Xander, Dawn, Anya, and Giles getting virtually no character direction, having a textbook Generic Doomsday Villain as the Big Bad, the arrival of the insufferable Potentials, and Spike's total eclipse of the whole show. Joss Whedon has admitted that everyone working on the show was exhausted by that point, and it shows.
    • Some also see the season 8 and season 9 comics as a continuation of the Dork Age, as Buffy, while a bit more sane than in seasons 6 and 7, is also more alienated from everyone, and in addition to this, the Slayer army is just irritating.
  • Happened twice in Charmed.
    • After a great first season, the creators decided to focus on the melodrama of the sisters' lives, and whole episodes were devoted purely to their personal lives with supernatural subplots thrown in as afterthoughts (in, you know... a show about witches). The show was saved by its awesome third season, however.
    • The show's fifth season, while still quite good in quality, changed the tone slightly to make things Lighter and Softer, and the structure shifted to have more stand-alone episodes instead of an actual story arc. They introduced magical creatures such as mermaids, leprechauns, wood nymphs, etc which had never been heard of in the show's mythology. The sixth season took it Up to Eleven with girlish and childish storylines such as King Arthur's sword, the sisters creating a Mr. Right for Piper, and a demonic reality show. The seventh and eighth seasons became darker in tone and developed interesting story arcs to rectify the problem.
  • The "Rebecca era" of Cheers, comprising of Seasons 6-11 after original co-star Shelley Long quit the show and was replaced by Kirstie Alley, generally tends to be seen as inferior to the original "Diane era" of Seasons 1-5. Some fans consider the entire show after Long's departure to be a write-off, but more commonly it's seen as just Season 8 onwards, or even arguably only Season 11, where the quality noticeably declined.
  • Season 4 of Community (a.k.a. the one Dan Harmon wasn't the Show Runner for) is generally regarded as this. Many characters underwent Flanderization, with some being defined solely by a single joke (Abed has Ambiguous Disorder! The Dean is a Wholesome Crossdresser!), or worse, no joke at all, with Troy hitting near-Satellite Character levels and Pierce being increasingly Demoted to Extra (and let's not even talk about the actual extras). "Concept" episodes became both more common and considerably less interesting, and the references slid from Viewers Are Geniuses to Lowest Common Denominator. More than that, though, a lot of the plotlines felt slack and uninteresting, with Troy and Britta suffering a major Shipping Bed Death as the writers fumbled with giving them actual chemistry, and Chang's Faking Amnesia plot being about as obvious and hackneyed as they came. Finally, many prior jokes and storylines were brought back as Fanservice... and they certainly felt like it, with the Inspector Spacetime joke being completely run into the ground. This meant that the show essentially began to suffer from They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and It's the Same, Now It Sucks! simultaneously. The finale, which brought back a concept that'd been lampshaded as old and forced an entire season prior, was roundly critically thrashed, with many saying its All Just a Dream ending was the only redeeming factor. A few shots were taken at it in-universe with reference to the "gas-leak year".
  • CSI in its 10th and 11th seasons. They wrote Laurence Fishburne's character as a CSI 1 and tried to show things from that perspective, but being a big-name actor, Fishburne's character kept getting quickly promoted and allowed to do new things far too quickly for the fans. Fishburne's character arc was completed at the end of Season 11 and the character was then Put on a Bus, and Season 12 reverted to the star being the team leader, which stuck for the final four seasons of the original C.S.I, though it ultimately didn't fully overcome William Petersen's departure from the role.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Being a teen drama famous for its longevity (14 Seasons, 16 if one counts Next Class, which pretty much everyone does) this was bound to happen at some point.
    • Season 8 is unanimously considered by fans to be the lowest point of the entire franchise, due to a multitude of factors, including the departures/greatly reduced roles of numerous fan favorites such as Paige, Ellie, Marco, Jay, and Jimmy, the Promotion to Opening Titles and introduction of new characters on a scale not seen since Season 1, many of whom weren't compelling/developed/likeable enough to carry storylines on their own, a widely hated Official Couple (Peter/Mia), the college storylines feeling too disconnected and inconsequential in regards to the titular high school, plot lines being dropped after only one or two episodes, most notably Jane's sexual abuse storyline, and the show's iconic title sequence getting an unfortunate case of Rearrange the Song that was supposed to sound current and updated, but whom many felt They Changed It, Now It Sucks!. The series took all of Season 9 to recover.
    • Many felt the second block of Season 10 and the first block of Season 11, titled In Too Deep, and Now or Never respectively, together were another one. This one had the seniors largely Out of Focus, the real-world life and school issues the series had always been known for depicting taking a backseat to romantic drama, the Flanderization and OOC of numerous previously strong and developed female characters for the sake of said romantic drama, and the new Official Couple, Eli and Clare, quickly becoming a Spotlight-Stealing Squad whose personal issues eclipsed pretty much everyone and everything else, both In-Universe and in Real Life. The most infamous example of the latter being the Season 10 finale, which saw Jenna giving birth to her and KC's son, an event the show had been building up to all season (40+ episodes) being reduced to an extremely short B-plot in favor of yet another Eli/Clare storyline.
  • Mention a Dork Age to a Doctor Who fan at your own peril. No matter which Doctor, no matter which writer, no matter which era, someone is going to consider it a Dork Age, and probably expostulate (at great length) why.
    • The season 7-8 Retool (aka Earthbound Era) that saw the doctor stuck on earth and become a scientific advisor to UNIT is not too well loved among fans. Jon Pertwee also playing a much more downtrodden and somewhat depressed doctor compared the constantly excited Manchild of Patrick Troughton during most of it could also be seen as a factor.
    • Season 15: After Philip Hinchcliffe was sacked by the higher ups and performed a Torch the Franchise and Run during his remaining stint, his successor (Graham Williams) suddenly found himself with a greatly slashed budget and under a lot more supervision from the BBC. This resulted in a season full of No Budget, Special Effect Failure and episodes that just weren't very good. Including the What Do You Mean, It's Not Political? ''The Sun Makers'' and ''Underworld'', often voted as one of the worst Doctor Who episodes ever and might as well be called Chroma Key, the episode.
    • Seasons 22-24 are probably the era with most consensus: The then-producer, John Nathan-Turner, would often insist on choosing new, rookie writers over seasoned writers who had worked on the series before, Executive Meddling caused the series to become first Darker and Edgier before swerving suddenly into Lighter and Softer territory, the budget was nearly nonexistent, and the entirety of Season 23 was dedicated to the tedious and intrusive "Trial of a Time Lord" storyline/framing device. Furthermore, the characterisation was generally more contentious, with the Sixth Doctor in particular actively depicted in a fashion that was at best hard-to-like, and the relationships between the Doctor and his companions tended to be characterised mainly by bickering and hostility, with little signs of warmth or friendliness. The show recovered with some standout writing and characterization in Seasons 25 and 26, but the ratings and budget were still rock-bottom and led to the show finally getting axed.
    • Series 6 Part 2 of the revival ("Let's Kill Hitler" through "The Wedding of River Song") is considered this by a lot of the fandom. The "Silence Will Fall" story arc was very well-received in Series 5, which introduced the Eleventh Doctor (and gave the Daleks, the most recurring antagonists in the series, a victory in the appropriately-titled episode "Victory of the Daleks") and is still widely thought of as the best series of the Moffat era. But in Series 6 the story arc became more confusing, and the Season Finale was regarded as unsatisfying — in part because it left a lot of the storyline unexplained. From there, Series 7 tried to move away from the Silence arc, but then introduced the related but even less popular Great Intelligence/Impossible Girl arc in its second half. The Silence arc was finally wrapped up in the post-season Christmas Episode, but it was an underwhelming end for Eleven (even if he was massacring Daleks left and right in the climax). About the only stretch of Series 6B-7 most fans agree is excellent is the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", and its very success played into Eleven's Grand Finalethe next story to air — getting a head-shaking reception.
    • For the new series, it's been felt Series 6-8 collectively fell into this thanks primarily to Story Arcs that were by turns too complicated, underwhelming, and gloomy, once-popular characters (Amy and Rory, the Weeping Angels, River Song) hanging around too long to diminishing returns before being succeeded by an underwhelming new crew (Clara, Danny) that temporarily and accidentally usurped the Doctor's position as protagonist just as he was switched over from Eleven to Twelve. Keep in mind, though, that this run is still regarded as better than the corresponding dork age of the original series.
    • Much of the 1960s-era Expanded Universe, due to it being written by people who did not care about either the show or science fiction in general with the sole aim of marketing Dalek toys to seven-year-olds. Unlike the other examples, this tends to result in affectionate embarrassment rather than outright contempt.
    • The second half of the Doctor Who New Adventures when everything got so much Darker and Edgier it was difficult to recognize it as Who, Ace was converted into a '90s Anti-Hero, the Doctor was increasingly flipping between being a Demoted to Extra Pinball Protagonist or a batshit insane Machiavellian Knight Templar who was difficult to root for, and many of the best writers of the Frocks crowd, like Paul Cornell or Gareth Roberts, had stopped writing books for the line. Production problems led to So Vile a Sin, the book that killed off Roz, coming out after the books in which she was dead.
  • The 2007 Flash Gordon TV series has been viewed as a Dork Age by many fans, particularly for the extent to which it toys with the characters' mythos and familiar aspects. To cite one example, Ming the Merciless is white, has a full head of hair, is clean-shaven, wears a western-style military uniform, is only rarely called "the Merciless", and derives his authority over Mongo from owning the water company. Some things benefit from a clearer, less Values Dissonant, and more realistic interpretation, but Flash Gordon is not one of them.
  • Game of Thrones: In light of the show's ending, general fan consensus is that the show began to decline in quality after its fourth season when the story increasingly diverged from the books, and completely fell apart in its final two seasons, when it ran out of books to adapt and its writers had to write the storylines themselves, with George R. R. Martin's notes offering only the Broad Strokes. The attempt to compress numerous pivotal plot and character developments into just a few episodes led to the story feeling badly rushed and culminated in one of the most bitterly controversial TV finales in history, with the sudden Face–Heel Turn of fan-favorite Daenerys in particular seen as not only a disastrous derailment but merely the most high-profile example out of many.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Season 5 is widely reviled for the mishandling of the Barney/Robin pairing and their first break-up. After the break-up came Don, who is said to be "the guy who will marry Robin" except he's a jerk and is shilled by the main cast for being funny and smart etc. The only positive thing about this season is "Girls VS. Suits" which introduced some very important information about the Mother and Barney's awesome dance number. Later on, Season 6 attempted to repair the damage by introducing arcs about Lily and Marshall's attempts to conceive, Barney meeting his real father and Ted trying to choose between career and love.
    • Season 7 is considered mediocre and boring by most due to Ted and his quest of meeting the Mother being sidelined for Barney's and Robin's relationships. It doesn't help that their new love interests met with a mixed reception. Then after Barney has another break-up, he gets a new girlfriend who happens to be like him and it turns out in the end that she's not the bride that Barney's going to marry in the wedding where Ted meets his future wife.
    • Season 8 isn't well-liked particularly for derailing Victoria, who is Ted's love interest in Season 1, Ted's unrequited feelings for Robin resurfacing since Season 7, Robin's constant jerkass attitude towards her co-worker Patrice, Ted dating a crazy stalker of his and the Arc Fatigue of how Barney and Robin's wedding came about. Fortunately, this did set up the final season where Ted finally gets to meet his future wife...
    • Season 9, however, is regarded to have seen the show bottom out completely. The creators decided to have the whole season take place across the course of Barney and Robin's wedding weekend, but it quickly became obvious that they had written themselves into a corner by doing so, resulting in many episodes being awkwardly paced, and others being irrelevant filler. And then it ended with a finale episode that saw Barney and Robin divorced barely a third of the way through, and then the Mother getting a bridge dropped on her, paving the way for Ted to try dating Robin again.
  • Executive producer Steven Bochco and consultant David E. Kelley left L.A. Law after its sixth season was over, with Bochco replaced by John Masius and John Tinker. Consequently, the seventh season suffered a noticeable decline in quality and ratings. Silly, soapy plots dominated the season's first half, culminating in what many fans feel was the worst hour ever of L.A. Law, "Odor in the Court". Midseason, Masius, and Tinker were let go and William Finkelstein was brought in to attempt to repair the damage. He mostly succeeded, with the series starting to grow its beard back by the eighth season, but it was too late to save the series from cancellation.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a period early in its cancellation period where Jim Mallon released a series of animated Flash shorts starring Crow, Tom, and/or Gypsy. This has largely been forgotten by fans due to the fact that the animation was poor and they just weren't funny.
  • Oz, the terse, taut HBO drama about shanking, Prison Rape, and the impossibility of redemption, started off mightily strong for its first few seasons, kickstarted a few careers, and got a lot of attention... and then, following the murder of Simon Adebisi, completely ran out of ideas. New characters were introduced only to be unceremoniously murdered and forgotten, relationships sparked up and died out abruptly, characters were wildly derailed, and carefully crafted storylines were trashed and hurled away until the show's fans were almost begging for the poor show to be put down. And then the formerly gritty and realistic show started to introduce elements like pills that caused Rapid Aging...
  • Power Rangers has had a few dork ages, although some of them are seen a bit kinder with time passing.
    • Power Rangers Turbo tried to shoehorn extremely goofy source material into a not-so-silly story (and to add insult to injury, Power Rangers RPM later showed how to do such a thing right, by running with the ridiculous aspects and mocking them in the process). Turbo also had some horrible Scrappies in the form of Justin, Dimitria, and Alpha 6.
    • The "Kallish Era" at Disney is considered a dorky time for the franchise, with an overuse of oversized explosions, overreliance on non-ranger powers, problematic characterization of rangers in certain seasons, and issues in writing quality compared with what came before. Power Rangers S.P.D. was already divisive enough, but it was the next 2 (Power Rangers Mystic Force and Power Rangers Operation Overdrive) that really exasperated the problems in this era. So much so that the follow-up Power Rangers Jungle Fury was largely forgotten, though that series now gets a consistent stamp of "Underrrated" these days. It took the franchise nearly being cancelled to jolt them out of it with the very different Power Rangers RPM, but unfortunately, this was not the end of the bad times for Power Rangers.
    • The "Neo-Saban" era is generally treated as a Dork Age. Consisting of Power Rangers Samurai (and Super Samurai), Power Rangers Megaforce (and Super Megaforce) Power Rangers Dino Charge (and Dino Supercharge) and Power Rangers Ninja Steel, these seasons were loaded with non-existent characters, direct copying of the Sentai without any context or sense, dialogue that was childish even by Power Rangers standards, and a slew of other problems that all came to a head in a massively disappointing Anniversary Season. The season Dino Charge, headed by former PR writer Judd Lynn, attempted to fix many of the issues fans had with the previous four seasons, but it backfired when the writing quality dropped during Dino Supercharge, which was followed by the even more derided Power Rangers Ninja Steel.
  • Saturday Night Live has had plenty of ups and downs in its decades-long history. However, there are three seasons that are generally singled out as being particularly embarrassing:
    • Season 6 (1980-1): The first season after Lorne Michaels left the show and the entire cast was replaced (including the last of the original cast). Lorne wanted Al Franken to take over as producer, but NBC president Fred Silverman refused because of the "A Limo for a Lame-O" segment Franken did on Weekend Update mocking Silverman's mismanagement of the network (Silverman was relatively humorless). Silverman instead chose Jean Doumanian, an associate producer who had helped book the show's musical talent, to produce SNL, and she proved extremely inept at the task. Many of the sketches were extremely crass, and critics wrote scathingly of the show's decline in quality. Dick Ebersol took over as producer late in the season (only one episode was made that season after he was hired before a writer's strike ended it) and stayed on for another four years. Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were the only Doumanian cast members to make it into the following season, and the entire season helped lead to Silverman's career taking a nose-dive after success in the '70s. This got an honorable mention in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, which took several shots at Silverman.
    • Season 11 (1985-6): The first season after Lorne's return, the entire cast was replaced again, this time with a new cast that included such famous or soon-to-be-famous names as Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, Joan Cusack, and Damon Wayans. However, such an eclectic group didn't work well together, and the show once again faced critical bashing and danger of cancellation. Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Nora Dunn, and A. Whitney Brown were the only cast members kept for next season, where a group of new cast members led by Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman saved the show.
    • Season 20 (1994-95): The first season after Hartman left (and two seasons after Carvey left), the cast was now led by the likes of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and David Spade, who weren't versatile enough to lead the show. Sketches often had very thin premises, many centering around the O. J. Simpson trial, and levels of sophomoric humor reached critical mass, resulting in lambasting by critics. Also, reports of behind-the-scenes turmoil, much of it involving Janeane Garofalo (who joined the cast that year but left in disgust midway through), led to the perception of general decay. More than half the cast was replaced after the season, and a new group led by Will Ferrell helped create another resurgence.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The show faced a problem in 1993: the surging popularity of Barney & Friends. Their attempt to restore their own market share was the "Around the Corner" project, which added a gentrified cul-de-sac to the street, populated by characters born in marketing meetings. Nobody working on the show liked it, particularly since the show's tradition of untrained children was jettisoned in favor of professional child actors (because that's how it worked on Barney). This period of the show's history (which resulted in one lasting change, Zoe, and even she took a long time to catch on) is generally skipped over in discussions, though the "street story" introducing the setting and characters was included on the 50th Anniversary DVD set Fifty Years and Counting in 2019.
    • The "Blocks" era (2002-2006) has been considered a dork age, too; the brighter colors, the cheesy opening sequence, and the very structured "block" format are to blame. It did improve a bit with Season 37 (2006), though, and they still did show some segments from the 1970s and 1980s during that era.
  • In Smallville, most of season four, due to the main Story Arc being "Lana's ancestor is a French witch with Kung Fu powers who is now back for revenge", and heavy involvement of magic stones and artifacts. Season nine is another flavor of Dork Age, being the Dark Age of Smallville, Chloe becoming a Manipulative Bitch and hooking up with Oliver. And Clark's new costume is widely panned.
  • The final two seasons of Spin City really signified how much the series had declined in quality when compared to the first four seasons. The beginning of the end could be pointed to was far back as Season 4, when Heather Locklear joined the cast as Caitlin Moore. Locklear's arrival messed with the chemistry a bit, and it never felt entirely right that Caitlin was made to be Mike's new love interest over Nikki. Caitlin as a character was not funny and too much of a bitchy Drama Queen. By the end of Season 4, Michael J. Fox left the show and semi-retired from acting because of the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease worsening. Even though Mike was the main characternote , Spin City was, at its core, an ensemble show. But once Charlie Sheen came in as Fox's replacement, it became less about politics and more about relationships and how much of a playboy Sheen was. At the same time that Michael J. Fox left the show, series creator and head writer Bill Lawrence also departed the series. Before this, Spin City was a very well-written series, where the comic timing and the jokes intercepted very well, some of the humor was intelligent, and some of it was Slapstick humor. With Sheen now on board, the show's pacing and energy became decidedly slower. To add insult to injury, production moved from New York to Los Angeles, and it was obvious. Plus, Connie Britton (Nikki), Victoria Dillard (Janelle), and Alexander Chaplin (James) departed along with Fox.
  • The final two seasons of Stargate SG-1 departed markedly from the earlier seasons. SG-1 always had a certain amount of fantasy and classic action-adventure sci-fi serials baked into its formula, but it was also just barely tech and science-savvy enough to stand apart from many of its contemporaries by fusing the military sci-fi element with at least the occasional nod to plot beats involving engineering, logistics, relativistic physics, celestial drift, so on and so forth, even if there is a great deal of Handwaving about the details. The heroes are presented as a scrappy band of improvisationalists (well, more a secret branch of the military with an immense budget, but still fighting consistently against odds and against a tech gradient) barely keeping ahead of their better-armed enemies through ingenuity and (relatively) low-tech tactics and a good bit of luck. Phlebotinum abounded, but there wasn't an alien death beam weapon that the galaxy's most unkillable squad wasn't prepared to throw a ton of plastic explosives or an improvised rocket, or a prototype space vessel at. There were occasional detours into softer fare, but generally the show stayed just a bit more on the 'sci' part of its sci-fantasy flavor. Until seasons Nine and Ten anyway. The traditional villains of the series (all of them) are largely set aside to make room for a new super enemy, a race of ascended Powers that Be who feed on the worship of their followers. The new technologies become much more inscrutable and have a Magic from Technology vibe to them, particularly in terms of aesthetics—technowizards are everywhere and SG-1 has to try to track down the one and only Merlin—sorry, "Myrddin"—in order to stave off the overwhelming assault of their nigh-omnipotent new opponents, who are cheating their way around their own divine rules, and their massive superweapons. It was all a bit silly in a self-serious kind of way, and before it was done, the show had not just Jumped the Shark, but done so on rocket skis, and the popularity and ratings of the show declined sharply.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series fell into this with its infamous third season, when Gene Roddenberry stepped away from the show and allowed producer Fred Freiberger and script editor Arthur Singer, neither of whom knew anything about the series, to take over. In retrospect the season isn't regarded as too bad in comparison to some of the weaker seasons of the latter shows, so much as it features a lot of average, forgettable stories while being dragged down by two episodes regarded as So Bad, It's Good, and one regarded as just being terrible.
    • While Star Trek: The Next Generation managed to drag itself out of an early Dork Age by around the second or third season depending on who you ask, many fans feel that it fell back into the Dork Age in its seventh and final season. The writers were running out of ideas, resulting in many bizarre and technobabble-laden plots with an odd focus on previously undiscussed relatives of the main cast, which was compounded by the new showrunner demanding more episodes focusing on Dr. Crusher and Troi, despite those being the two characters the writers had always had the most trouble dealing with. It didn't help that Executive Meddling closed off the two most obvious story arcs for the characters — the implied Unresolved Sexual Tension between Crusher and Picard, and the romantic history between Troi and Riker — resulting in the former getting a very perfunctory subplot in one episode and never being mentioned again, while the latter was spurned in favor of pairing Troi with Worf, with the subject of her and Riker not being revisited until years later with Star Trek: Insurrection.
    • For a brief time on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo had his powers taken away by the Founders, as one of those vehicles-for-exploring-the-human-condition that Star Trek is so fond of. In this case, it didn't turn out well; Odo got his powers back in a very contrived way and the whole incident was referenced precisely once (in the very next episode) and then never again. This came about during an effort late in season 4 to make major changes to the characters, with Sisko's girlfriend being imprisoned, Dukat becoming a terrorist, Worf being dishonored again, Quark also getting cut off from his people, and Kira first getting into a relationship with the First Minister of Bajor, then becoming a surrogate mother for the O'Briens' baby. As it turned out, every single one of these changes misfired badly with the fans, and Kira's becoming a surrogate mother was the only one that wasn't undone by halfway through season 5 — and that was because her actress, Nana Visitor, was actually pregnant during production, which is why the arc was included in the first place. She delivered during production of a season 5 episode, and the plot was fairly quickly wound up thereafter.
    • A large portion of the fanbase considers everything done in the Star Trek franchise after Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air to be a lengthy Dork Age that they loudly clamor for the franchise to emerge from. Others consider the Dork Age to have lasted from around the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine until the release of either Star Trek (2009) or Star Trek: Discovery. And that's before you get to those who consider everything after the death of Gene Roddenberry in 1991 to be a permanent Dork Age. Depending on what exactly one's view of what Star Trek should be, there's a lot of debate around this subject.
    • The franchise's approach to musical scoring from 1990 (around the beginning of The Next Generation's fourth season) until the end of Enterprise in 2005 was its own isolated dork age. This began when executive producer Rick Berman fired composer Ron Jones (who most notably, wrote the music for the famous "The Best of Both Worlds" cliffhanger) for writing music that Berman thought was too "flamboyant" and distracting from the acting and writing. So, for about the next 13 years, all Star Trek TV music was that bland wallpaper of generic chords. The problem was the "music" was reduced to "tension strings" between commercials, and "swell in suspense" right before a commercial.
  • Supernatural:
    • The ninth season had a subplot where Castiel lost his angel grace and was turned into a normal human. Not only was this a retread of a story they'd already done in season 5, the writers didn't seem to have any idea how to keep the De Powered Cas involved in the main plot, so human Cas episodes largely featured him bumbling around making a fool of himself and trying to get laid until the Monster of the Week showed up to torture him. Thankfully, the arc only lasted nine episodes.
    • On a larger scale, seasons 1-5 are generally regarded as good, setting up the universe and the main cast of characters and gradually increasing the scope of the conflict before ending with a satisfying conclusion to the show's initial Myth Arc. Season 6-10 are regarded as a series of lackluster attempts to reinvent the series in the Post-Script Season era, with a glut of discount bad guys after already having worn out the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and endless contrived drama between the Winchesters. For some reason, seasons 11-15 are much closer in quality to the former, perhaps because the series had been running for so long by that point that the showrunners and actors felt comfortable just letting it ride itself out, along with presenting believable threats again by bringing back the Archangels and introducing the Primordials.
  • Because of its very long tenure (late 1980s until late 1990s), it was inevitable that the ABC network's two-hour (8:00-10:00 p.m.) "TGIF" (short for "Thank Goodness It's Friday") sitcom lineup would hit a few speed bumps.
    • The decline began in the 1991-1992 season when two mainstays of the lineup since the beginning changed timeslots. Full House moved to Tuesdays and stayed there for the remainder of its run, while Perfect Strangers moved to Saturdays in midseason to anchor a failed comedy block intended to capitalize off of TGIF's success. The latter show returned to Fridays for its abbreviated (six-episode) final season the following year. Said circumstances left Family Matters as the block's flagship program. Numerous new shows were test-run, a few of which (Step by Step and Boy Meets World most notably) became huge favorites but most of which were gone within a year or so. Even Family Matters itself began to suffer, as Steve Urkel went from being the sitcom's Breakout Character to being practically the sole reason for the show's existence, with plots tailored around his various "wacky" inventions. And then Toilet Humour started creeping in, and then ethnic humor... and it was all downhill from there. By 1996, TGIF was little more than a random generator of broad farces, often with ridiculous fantasy themes (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Teen Angel...), that would have been more appropriate for the '60s than the '90s. A crossover arc late in the lineup's run only served to demonstrate how blandly interchangeable the shows had become.
    • In 2001, with their purchase of Fox Family, Disney decided to move TGIF to the newly-branded ABC Family. ABC Family was intended by Disney to broadcast same-week repeats of ABC shows, but their line-up was minimal because they only had the syndication rights to Disney-produced shows, so the new TGIF was cobbled together from original series State of Grace and reruns of According to Jim and (of all shows) Alias. This experiment only lasted one season, and ABC has only brought back the TGIF brand twice in the years since (the first was between 2003-2005 and the second was during the 2018-2019 season).
  • The middle part of the second and final season of Twin Peaks: the episodes following the resolution of the Palmer case and predating the introduction of Windom Earle.
  • The ninth season of Two and a Half Men, produced following the public meltdown and departure of Charlie Sheen, is largely considered this due to much worse writing and extreme Flanderization: Alan becoming more immature and an even bigger mooch, Jake smoking pot and becoming even more stupid, Rose becoming more of a bitch, Lindsay becoming crazier, and Berta being the only character who stayed consistent. The tone is completely different, there's a much greater emphasis on Toilet Humour, and Charlie's replacement Walden is little more than a rich and more immature version of Alan and his interactions with the other characters feel very forced and unnatural. The remaining seasons improved somewhat by retooling the humor in a way that clearly took inspiration from The Big Bang Theory (which at least was more appropriate than the toilet humor, given that Walden was meant to be a technology mogul), but it never again reached the levels of popularity it had in Seasons 1-8, and eventually ended with a widely-reviled finale that mostly just took pot-shots at Sheen.
  • Ultra Series
    • It's commonly agreed the 15 years between Ultraman 80 and Ultraman Tiga (about 1981-1996) was an abysmal time for the franchise, with only cheap movies or foreign spinoffs being made and none of them really garnering much interest or praise.
    • In terms of special effects quality, the consecutive series of Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Taro, and Ultraman Leo are seen as the low point for the franchise. While all three are well-liked shows, the special effects are much cheaper and shoddier made than previous series. A lot of it can be attributed to the declining 70s economy and Oil Crisis hurting Japan. The effects approved immensely with Ultraman 80 but soon after the franchise was put on hiatus as mentioned above.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • After a widely acclaimed first season that was hailed as one of the best shows on television, the second season was seen by many fans as a Sophomore Slump. With Frank Darabont having left the show, the new show runners and writing team were still finding their footing, and in the first half of the season especially, the show was accused of spinning its wheels on Hershel's farm. Fortunately, things picked up again by the end of the season, and while seasons three through five are not without their flaws, they have since come to be viewed as the show's Golden Age.
    • Unfortunately, ever since the start of season six, the series has seen gradually decreasing praise and ratings. Chief complaints are the cliffhangers and fakeouts, long stretches of meandering plot that only get it together for the season finales, and the generally cyclical nature of the series, in which the group encounters a new villain, defeats him, and repeats. Negan especially has been bitterly polarizing, with many fans finding him to be a cartoonish Super Villain whose story has been drawn out for too long.
  • Apart from the Ending Fatigue that plagued seasons 5, 6, and 7 of The West Wing after the departures of principal character Sam Seaborn, writer-of-almost-every-episode Aaron Sorkin and stylistically-influential director Thomas Schlamme, season 5 was especially derided for being just plain bad and having terrible storylines. One of the worst of these was a contrived character arc for Josh Lyman that relied on simultaneously making him into a complete moron and having all his friends inexplicably distrust him in order to set up a "hero rises from the ashes" story that failed miserably since it was never wanted or needed in the first place.
  • For fans of scripted series, two eras are held to be Dork Ages for television as a whole, at least in the US.
    • The first is The '60s. The first "Golden Age of Television", when TV aimed more upmarket at the early adopters of TV sets, sputtered to an end in the late '50s for various reasons: the quiz show scandal casting a dark shadow over what had been seen as a fairly highbrow genre, increased Executive Meddling in response to the scandal (which had been the result of executive producers and advertisers enjoying free rein and no oversight over shows), and most importantly, widespread adoption of TV sets causing networks to aim downmarket at the rapidly expanding new audience in order to chase the highest ratings. As early as 1958, the Peabody Award committee lamented what they saw as the declining quality of programming, and in 1961, FCC chairman Newton Minow delivered his famous speech "Television and the Public Interest" lambasting the "vast wasteland" of cheap schlock that he thought TV was devolving into. The '60s were the decade when the terms "idiot box" and "boob tube" entered widespread use to describe television, a time when derivative sitcoms, Westerns, adventure shows, and variety shows dominated the airwaves; years later, such shows would be remembered primarily as kitsch. The study of demographics in the late '60s caused TV to move upmarket again, and while the networks arguably went overboard in doing so as they swung hard against the trends of the past decade, The '70s were the era when television started to once more be taken seriously by critics.
    • The second is the early-to-mid 2000s, the decade when Reality TV first became a serious phenomenon. While the era still produced a great many well-remembered scripted series on both the broadcast networks (Lost, 30 Rock, The Office (US)) and on cable (Battlestar Galactica (2003), The Wire, The Shield, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), it seemed that not a day went by when a scripted show risked getting Screwed by the Network in favor of a cheaper-to-produce reality show. The decade is littered with innumerable promising shows that barely limped to the end of their first seasons, as well as specialty cable networks that underwent severe Network Decay as they tried to chase the reality TV dollar. This turned around in a big way starting in the late '00s when cable networks led by HBO, FX, and AMC, as well as the streaming service Netflix, started premiering critically-acclaimed hits that demonstrated that scripted series still had a lot of life, to the point where The New '10s have been called a second Golden Age for television; the main concern now is that there are too many great shows for the average viewer to keep up with. It helped that, around the same time, reality TV started falling into a Dork Age of its own (see below).
  • Seasons 7-10 of All That are often looked at by older fans with scorn. To go back a bit, following the sixth seasonnote , Nickelodeon temporarily suspended production to start from scratch. Just like with Season 6 of Saturday Night Live back in 1980, All That relaunched in 2002 with an entirely new cast. Fans seem to feel that, save for Lisa Foiles (often singled out as the most talented among the new crop of kids), the new cast weren't as charismatic or had as much chemistry as the one from the "golden age". Also, by this point, All That had all but lost its unique urban-influenced edgenote  and sense of diversitynote . Season 7 in particular also had an overabundance of "special guest stars", which took too much focus away from the cast themselves. By this time, All That did away with familiar elements from the past like Vital Informationnote , the big ear of corn, Kevin Kopelow as the stage manager, the cast members saying "Let's give a round a sound..." while introducing the musical guests, and the announcer saying "Fresh out the box..." prior to TLC's theme song. Meanwhile, fans argued that the skits by this time, such as "Sugar and Coffee" and "Randy Quench", were too predictable, too reliant on grossouts and Toilet Humour, and based on already extremely thin premises that were eventually stretched too far. All That even resorted to recycling the famous Good Burger sketch, with Ryan Coleman as Ed. There were, however, some key milestones that should be noted from this era, such as the nationwide contest to search for the "funniest kid in America"note  and All That celebrating its tenth anniversary with a one-hour special leading up to Season 10. Despite these transactions, Nickelodeon believed that the show, just like in Season 6, had run its course, and All That was canceled in 2005.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The show faced a problem in 1993: the surging popularity of Barney & Friends. Their attempt to restore their own market share was the "Around the Corner" project, which added a gentrified cul-de-sac to the street, populated by characters born in marketing meetings. Nobody working on the show liked it, particularly since the show's tradition of untrained children was jettisoned in favor of professional child actors (because that's how it worked on Barney). This period of the show's history (which resulted in one lasting change, Zoe, and even she took a long time to catch on) is generally skipped over in discussions, though the "street story" introducing the setting and characters was included on the 50th Anniversary DVD set Fifty Years and Counting in 2019.
    • The "Blocks" era (2002-2006) has been considered a dork age, too; the brighter color scheme, the cheesy opening sequence, and the very structured "block" format are to blame. It did improve a bit with Season 37 (2006), though, and they still did show some segments from the 1970s and 1980s during that era.
  • The Dr. Seuss franchise saw one in 1998 with the premiere of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss' second season, which unsurprisingly got the show cancelled:
    • For starters, this season completely changed the show's format. The Cat and the Little Cats would have their own subplot that took up the majority of the show and were joined by Terrence McBird, a bird who worried about everything and nitpicked too much. There was also the Wubbuloscope―a piece of machinery that the Cat used to present stories from Seussville, the Jungle of Nool, and the Kingdom of Didd. A lot of Dr. Seuss characters who weren't the Cat in the Hat like Horton, Jane Kangaroo, Morton, the Grinch, and Yertle the Turtle only appeared on-screen for a few minutes, then they disappeared and were never mentioned for the rest of the episode.
    • The show attempted to be "hip" with the kids by carrying over Little Cat Z from The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and making him visible, as well as having him possess a hipster attitude by muttering Z-words.
    • Unlike in the first season, the same formula was used for every episode, making the entire second season repetitive and predictable. The episodes themselves also focused on typical kids' show fare like "let's cure a hiccup", "be healthy and strong", "cleaning up can be fun", and "don't be afraid of the dark". More often than not, Terrence McBird would refuse to try something fun the Cats are doing and then they would get him to like it.
    • Let's not forget to mention that Terrence would occasionally forget the lesson he was taught by the Cats in prior episodes. Despite the Cats already having taught him how to fly in "The Cat in the Hat's First First Day", they had to teach him how to fly again in "Walkin' with the Cat".
    • Some Dr. Seuss characters who previously appeared as major characters in the first season returned in the second season, but they only had supporting/minor roles (due to the Cat in the Hat's omnipresence, of course). Mr. Knox and Fox in Socks returned, but would only show up every once in a while in the Cat's playhouse, usually to provide a musical number. Also, many characters from the first season like Sue Snue, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, and Mayor Stovepipe disappeared.
    • Sam-I-Am made his debut in the second season, but only showed up to lend a helping hand to the Cats in their playhouse and left soon after. He was also given a twin sister named Pam-I-Am, who was underused and only made four appearances before the show ended.
    • Yertle the Turtle and the Grinch, who were recurring villains in the first season, became far less evil and threatening than their book counterparts. With Yertle the Turtle, the second season completely retconned his goal to be king of everything. Aside from appearing in the intro with the rest of the show's cast, he also barely made any new appearances. He became much nicer, even sharing his nut collection with Earl in "A Bird's Best Friend" after refusing to the first time. Furthermore, his home was moved from Salamasond to the Jungle of Nool.

    Non-scripted series 
  • America's Funniest Home Videos, in the short-lived era after Bob Saget's departure (1998-99) when it was hosted by John Fugelsang and Daisy Fuentes, then the era after that (1999-2001) when it was relegated to a series of one-offs with various Guest Hosts before Tom Bergeron took over in 2001. The 1998-99 attempt at a hipper look and feel didn't land, and host banter and miscellaneous filler came at the expense of the actual clips. Fugelsang is just plain not remembered as a host; not even the show itself has mentioned him in retrospectives. However, in a reversal of Franchise Original Sin this was the era when Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein (veterans of Mystery Science Theater 3000) joined the writing staff and revamped the banter and actual video commentary to significantly funnier effect; notably they remained with the show through Bergeron's early seasons.
  • The Amazing Race: Family Edition is largely if not universally loathed by fans. Four Racers instead of two, almost entirely limited to the continental United States because of the family gimmick and the inclusion of some very young children, which limited the tasks. It also introduced America to the Weavers, a thoroughly obnoxious "Christian" family who, post-season, was the only family not to offer assistance to a fellow family who were victimized by Hurricane Katrina.
  • The Daily Show is usually held to have fallen into one after Jon Stewart left in 2015. His replacement Trevor Noah caused a Broken Base among fans, and more importantly, most of the supporting talent (John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Larry Wilmore) left around the same time that Stewart did and launched their own shows, some of which (most notably Oliver's Last Week Tonight and Bee's Full Frontal) are considered to be the true heirs to the Stewart-era Daily Show by fans. Noah eventually found his footing circa 2017, however, as he sharpened his focus rather than trying to imitate Stewart's style of comedy, with the show seeing its ratings spike both on television and especially on YouTube.
  • Linda Bell Blue spent 19 years (1995-2014) as the executive producer of Entertainment Tonight after serving in a similar capacity on its sister program Hard Copy. It was upon that point that Entertainment Tonight slowly but surely, transformed from being a classy, infotainment programnote  to a sensationalistic tabloid type of show. When Hard Copy went off the air in 1999, and that show's staff was absorbed into Entertainment Tonight, that's when the tabloid-ization of ET really went full throttle. Once the 2000s rolled around, ET became a weird blend of pointlessly smarmy and vacuously chipper Happy Talk. And as ET slid into the Reality Show psychology of the present era, there was a deliberate avoidance of focusing on the projects anymore (unless there's a Paramount/CBS tie in, which is why they reported endlessly on NCIS and Donny and Marie Osmond) and just going celeb scandal wall-to-wall, with endless promos for stories that wind up being shorter than the oft-played promos themselves. To clarify, within a half-hour block, they could discuss five things, which are almost always completely useless celeb gossip topics. They'll repeat these five things and their corresponding footage about a dozen times each before showing you what they promised, which includes maybe one or two more sentences or minutes of footage, but no new information. Its jumpiness and repetitive editing seemed to be done by or for someone with attention deficit disorder or extreme short term memory. And yet, the show still tried to retain its old maudlin pretense of being somehow an advocate for the stars and their audience.
  • The Eurovision Song Contest has had its fair share:
    • The earliest years of the contest (from its inception through, depending on one's perspective, either the mid-'60s or as far in as ABBA's 1974 win for Sweden, but definitely all of the '50s) are generally seen as this by Eurofans, with most of the entries considered very old-fashioned and dated. The vibe is completely different to what people generally associate Eurovision with, being very formal and dressed-up. Particular songs and artists have been seen as exceptions, particularly the late Lys Assia (the first-ever Eurovision winner, who remained an active member of the Eurovision community until her passing in 2018) and, of course, the worldwide smash "Nel blu dipinto di blu," Italy's 1958 entry. (To that point: while the 50th anniversary special from 2005 didn't do much more than cursorily mention the '50s, "Nel blu dipinto di blu" still ended the night being declared the second-best Eurovision entry of all time, only behind "Waterloo").
    • 1981-1984 is generally looked upon this way. The contest was experiencing growing pains, with an even split between countries trying to be more current and others stuck in their ways. The winning entries were less successful on the pop charts (save for 1981 and 1982) and countries became steadily less interested. It took a strong contest in 1985 and the victorious return of Johnny Logan in 1987 for people to start taking notice again, and even then, Eurovision's esteem wasn't quite what it once was.
    • There's a Broken Base on whether the mid-90s count as this. On one hand, the influx of former Soviet/Warsaw Pact/Yugoslav countries meant for a more diverse lineup than ever, with the songs generally getting more experimental and interesting rather than constantly following the "Eurovision formula." On the other hand, this was the era of the controversial relegation system for countries with poor results, and fans were getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of success modern-sounding entries had compared to folkier, more atmospheric ones. Not helping matters were a series of wins for countries that either spoke English or skirted the language rule as much as possible (Ireland's hat-trick of victories from 1992-'94, then Norway winning with a Celtic-flavored song that had very few lyrics, then another win for Ireland, then a win for the United Kingdom). Ireland scoring yet another win in 1996 while the United Kingdom's contemporary techno number and international hit "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit" only finished eighth was greeted with consternation from fans, leading to the small-scale introduction of the televote in 1997, then its full adoption in 1998, which coincidentally led to two very contemporary songs in the top two slots. This seemed like a good move at the time, but it would soon lead to...
    • The '00s, an entire decade that tarnished Eurovision's reputation. While viewership was still high and more countries kept joining, the issues with mostly relying on a public vote became clearer and clearer: countries that were neighbors or had a significant diaspora/immigrant population in another country were disproportionately rewarded. Obviously, this wasn't usually enough to win, but the fact that the votes were becoming increasingly predictable if you had a cursory knowledge of geography was frustrating. On the flip side, whether by lack of motivation or (if you ask them) being at a disadvantage due to not having as much of a diaspora or as many neighbors, a load of Central and Western European entries entered a collective Dork Agenote  that only a few have managed to recover from and further solidified Eurovision as a joke and a popularity contest in Western Europe. It wasn't until the re-introduction of the juries in 2009 to balance out the televote's biases note  that the contest slowly but surely began to Win Back the Crowd, and the 2010s have gone on to become much more of an open field for countries that hadn't previously been seen as standing a chance.
  • Family Feud had one that lasted nearly two decades.
    • When the show came back on the air in 1988 with Ray Combs hosting, the Dork Age began in 1992 with the addition of the Bullseye round at the front of the game, where families competed to play one-question rounds to build up their Fast Money bank before playing "regular" Feud. Soon after, the daytime version was cancelled, airing in repeats until the following fall. This was also the time where the syndicated version saw an uprising of celebrity specials. Combs was let go before the 1994 season, with original host Richard Dawson (who helmed the show in its original 1976-85 incarnation) coming back. However, Dawson was clearly in far worse health than when he had last hosted, as he had gained considerable weight, his voice was softer, and his wit had been dulled. This version also had two format changes, as family teams were shrunk from five to four members, and the Bullseye round was shrunk into a similar round called Bankroll, which helped with the flow of gameplay but also diminished cash payouts. With the O.J. Simpson murder trial pre-empting the series in most markets, this Retool lasted only one season. It's also been suggested that Combs being let go from the show was one of the factors behind his 1996 suicide.
    • The show returned in 1999, at which point the Dork Age reached its peak. A brand-new, modern set was created and the new host was Louie Anderson, whom many derided for his slovenly appearance, raspy voice, and seemingly bored demeanor. Plus, the game structure was tweaked to an extreme Golden Snitch: three single-point rounds and one triple-point round with only one strike, and no returning champions. The only good thing that came out of this was the doubling of the Fast Money prize to $20,000 in 2001, something Anderson actually advocated. His replacement was Richard Karn, who — despite seeming far more enthusiastic and friendly than his predecessor — displayed exceptionally poor comedic ad-libbing and quickly resorted to shouting the exact same catch phrases ad nauseam ("I'M DOUBLING THE POINTS!"). Though Karn's tenure saw several improvements in appearance and format (reinstatement of returning champions, a variant of the "classic" scoring format, a new set, and even the same rearrangement of the theme song which was used in the Combs era), Karn's hosting style quickly became unbearable.
    • The Dork Age finally showed signs of slowing after John O'Hurley replaced Karn in 2006, as O'Hurley had already proven himself as a capable host on the 2000-02 version of To Tell the Truth. Depending on who you ask, it ended completely either when O'Hurley got more comfortable hosting or when Steve Harvey replaced him, bringing its ratings up to a level comparable to that of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. However, some longtime fans think that Harvey brought the show back into a Dork Age, as the popularity of his Wild Takes whenever a contestant gave a lurid answer were being heavily enforced by the writers, causing the questions to become Hotter and Sexier as a result.
  • Jeopardy!:
    • At the start of Jeopardy!'s 1997-98 season, the producers began videotaping celebrities, public figures (scientists, politicians, etc.), journalists, and prolific writers to deliver individual clues and, in less frequent cases, full categories. Many fans hate these clues because they tend to disrupt the flow of the game due to many of them reading at a very slow pace and/or containing way too many words. Not helping matters is when the video clues feature actors performing in-character.
    • However, it's more strongly arguable that Jeopardy! went full steam ahead into Dork Age territory with the Clue Crew, a regular "feature" born in 2001. It's bad enough that the clues presented by these young assistants tend to eat up as much time as their celebrity counterparts. It gets even worse upon realizing that, if any member of the Clue Crew introduces a category, there's hardly any effort to speed the game up until after the crew's entire column has been cleared out.
  • Late Night With Conan O'Brien got into this after Andy Richter left in 2000.
  • The period in which Judge Jerry Sheindlinnote  presided over The People's Court (1999-2001) saw its ratings lag. One problem with the Judge Sheindlin era could be that he was too straightforward and matter-of-fact. While that may have made sense during the Judge Wapnernote  era from the 1980s, where The People's Court was really seen as a way to both entertain and educate people about small-claims court, once Judge Judy hit the scene in the late '90s, TV judges became "Tough Love" advocates and drama queens. In other words, now TV judges were expected to Freak Out, lecture, carry on, scold, schmooze, and second-guess the litigants. So when Sheindlin was replaced by Judge Marilyn Milian in 2001-02, ratings naturally improved significantly.
  • The Price Is Right had two instances that are somewhat connected:
    • It started to get a little tired in Bob Barker's last few seasons: increasing senior moments from Bob, sudden insurgence of idiotic contestants, a butt-ugly set (it was recolored in a pink and blue motif for Bob's last seasons), and backstage drama that led to many models being fired and The Announcer Rod Roddy no longer appearing on-camera (which Fremantle notoriously tried to cover up). Rod's faltering health and subsequent death in 2003 led to a myriad of fill-ins, most of whom were perceived as subpar (the nadir being Daniel Rosen, who was extremely sloppy and unenthusiastic on-air; after members of fan forum voiced their disapproval, he also supposedly retaliated by astro turfing said forum with sockpuppet accounts praising him). Rod's successor Rich Fields was also seen by many as a Broken Base, as much of the fanbase had been pushing for Randy West instead.
    • Bob retired in 2007 and Drew Carey took his place, only to find himself continuing the Dork Age for many. Among other things during Drew's first few years, there were: a moment where a contestant bid on their Showcase to the exact dollar and Drew completely undersold the momentous occasion (although this was because he rightly suspected that the contestant was employing Loophole Abuse, it still resulted in the prize pool getting a massive overhaul), pointless celebrity cameos (including one where Jack Wagner chewed the scenery so obtrusively that it appeared to distract a couple contestants into losing), and strange gimmicks (such as an episode where all six pricing games were Plinko). There was also criticism over Carey's hosting style in general, such as "comedic" Showcase skits that often demeaned Rich (to be fair, Drew now considers these an Old Shame), Drew talking way too fast and having fluctuating enthusiasm, and several instances where he screwed up the rules (most notoriously, the game Make Your Marknote  was retired due to this). Many other crew members were randomly let go under mysterious circumstances after Drew took over, including producers, directors, and even Rich Fields, who was replaced by George Gray after another bevy of substitutes (although it has been rumored that Rich's departure had nothing to do with the show proper, and George has proven to be less divisive in comparison). While some criticism of Drew still lingers, it seems that the show has largely emerged from its dork age as of The New '10s.
  • Survivor has had several.
    • The first one was encountered around seasons 3-5. Season 3 didn't do as well in the ratings compared to its predecessors, partly because the scorching heat of the Kenyan scrubland made it too hot for the contestants to do anything interesting besides sitting around all day, and the crew of Survivor were not any fonder of the season. Season 4 had a bunch of boring people and a Diabolus ex Machina that screwed someone doing very well in the game along with the infamous "no-no" sandflies that irritated everyone (Word of God is that the show will never return to the Marquesas after meeting these bugs), and Season 5 was full of people who were outright irritating. They all had their moments, granted, but the show got better around season 6.
    • Then there's season 14 (Survivor: Fiji), with a cast full of dull people, a twist that resulted in a Can't Catch Up scenario pre-merge, only a couple of real moments, and even the host saying it wasn't very memorable. In all fairness to the producers, Jeff Probst mentioned that Fiji was supposed to be Cook Islands part two with a similarly racially segregated theme. Unfortunately, one of the twenty contestants leaving at the very last minute forced the producers to throw a new twist to the game they didn't plan to do.
    • Then from season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins) to season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water), the editing would frequently be dominated by crazy, delusional, or arrogant jerkasses, leaving other tribe members invisible until their elimination. Oftentimes, the tribes' members made bone-headed mistakes or got too stressed to continue playing, giving the Creator's Pet an easy ride to the finals. On top of that, some of these seasons had twists that did nothing to add drama and suspense, especially the Redemption Island twist, which spent precious time on conflict between players who were already out instead of the ones still subject to the vote. The dork age finally ended with season 28 (Survivor: Cagayan), which added more savvy players to balance the idiots, the emotional wrecks, and the jerkass camera hogs.
    • Seasons 34-39 can be viewed as this with the exception of David vs. Goliath thanks to fans believing that the show has become too much about twists with many of those twists ended screwing over fan favorites such as Malcolm, Cirie, Devon, Jamal, Janet, and a lot of members from the original Malolo tribe out of the game.note  Then, come to Season 38 where the entire post-merge would have been entirely different without the twist as the final juror and the actual winner of the season were people that were voted out pre-merge but ended up coming back to the game. It is not uncommon for many fans to fear that this show is becoming like Big Brother. Not to mention the cast for Game Changers, Ghost Island, and Island of the Idols has been constantly criticized thanks to the first season having questionable casting choices, the second season not having a lot of people making big moves and playing to win, and the third season having the infamous Dan Spilo incident and the way a lot of players handled the incident was not very well-received. Let's just leave the last one at that.
  • While it's hotly debated as to whether any episodes of Top Gear following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in 2015 are even worth watching — many fans having decamped to the trio's new show, The Grand Tour — nearly everyone seems to agree that the first season made without them was incredibly sub-par, with new lead presenter Chris Evansnote  being widely disliked, and the season adopting a tone much closer to the pre-2002 incarnation of the show. The following season, which saw Evans replaced by Matt LeBlanc, was at least seen as an improvement, but viewing figures remained barely half of what they were in the Clarkson-Hammond-May era.
  • By many accounts, Wheel of Fortune (Jeopardy!'s sister show) has been in one from any of the following points depending on the version:
    • Daytime network (1975-91):
      • 1988: Pat Sajak stepped down from the daytime version to host The Pat Sajak Show (he's stayed with the nighttime version) and was replaced by Rolf Benirschke, a former football player who had no TV experience whatsoever: despite being far more pleasant and solicitous than other "rookie" hosts of the era, he was very visibly nervous for most of his tenure, leading to a vast number of mistakes (including at least one confirmed instance of a contestant correcting him during a Teen Week). Making matters worse was the fact that Rolf took over while the show's announcer was disc jockey M. G. Kelly, who was derided by fans and even Pat himself for being overly mellow and constantly tripping over his words; this resulted in original announcer Charlie O'Donnell returning in 1989. Rolf lasted only six months before the network version Channel Hopped from NBC to CBS and the far more experienced Bob Goen became host.
    • Nighttime syndication (1983-present):
      • 1994-95: While this season does have some merit overall, it was also the season that introduced the notorious "Megaword" category, a target of derision from not only Sajak but also Lovely Assistant Vanna White and even the aforementioned Charlie O'Donnell. In this category, the puzzle was a long vocabulary word which the contestant could use in a sentence for a bonus. The main point of derision for this category was the obscurity and difficulty of such words. Most notoriously, one round with the answer of OXIDIZED saw the Wheel change hands thirteen times before anyone managed to uncover a letter, with the round itself dragging on for an agonizing six minutes. Another round had a contestant ruled incorrect for mispronouncing PRISTINELY despite the whole puzzle being filled in, while at least two others (EROTICISM and COPACETIC) saw contestants buying incorrect vowels with only the E's unrevealed. Despite its short life, Megaword is still regarded to this day as one of the worst ideas in the show's history. This was only driven home on a May 2014 episode where a contestant was asked to name a category that the show no longer uses; the contestant in question jokingly asked Pat not to become upset, and Pat explained the category before saying that he "hated every moment" of it.
      • Late 1996-early 1997: Reduction of the Wheel to just one template for all rounds, replacement of the old mechanical puzzle board with an electronic one, thus severely limiting the necessity of hostess Vanna White. Derision for the latter has gone away over the years, especially as Wheel was one of the last game shows to still be using trilons; the use of monitors greatly sped up production times (as loading puzzles into the old trilon board was time-consuming); the electronic board led to the creation of the generally well-received Toss-Up puzzles; and while an electronic board greatly obviates the need for a hostess, most fans agree that it would be hard to imagine the show continuing without her presence.
      • 2010 onward: A general No Budget feel, as the Bonus Round is often a contrived answer that seems to beg for a loss no matter what letters the contestants pick; Prize Puzzles, 1/2 Car tags, and Express becoming Golden Snitch-level Game Breakers; decreased enthusiasm from the studio audience (even taking into mind the show's use of a applause machine); poor puzzle writing in the main game (particularly the aforementioned Prize Puzzles, which often blatantly telegraph what the contestant will win); and increasingly sloppy editing/directing.
      • Another point of contention for the show in The New '10s was when longtime announcer Charlie O'Donnell died in November 2010, two months into the 28th season. While it was understandable that this would require a rotation of fill-ins from other announcers, most of them did an especially poor job (despite most of them being genre veterans) except for Jim Thornton, who ultimately took over in 2011 and has been warmly received. However, there were several weeks of episodes that Charlie had taped prior to his death, so the show made the unorthodox decision to dub him over with the fill-in announcers. While the show defended this as trying to lessen the sadness of hearing Charlie's voice so soon after his death, the fanbase largely found it disrespectful to his legacy. Even worse, after Jim became announcer, he was dubbed over all of the other fill-in announcers during that summer's reruns (likely to avoid paying them royalties for reruns), meaning that some episodes had to be dubbed twice.
  • The G4 Network seemed to pretend that the first month or so of Los Angeles-based X-Play episodes don't exist. The G4 Replay block of reruns skipped from the last San Francisco eps to the L.A. eps with the dark green set, completely skipping the early L.A. eps with the hideously bright-green set.
  • Lisa Riley's run as host of You've Been Framed is usually seen as this, in part because her commentary wasn't considered to be as funny as that of the two hosts either side of her (Jeremy Beadle and Harry Hill), and also because her time as host coincided with the show tending to focus on clips of toddlers doing cutesy things rather than the accidents and bizarre incidents that the show was known for.
  • The Game Show genre as a whole has had a few:
    • It wasn't just scripted shows that went to pot in The '60s, as the quiz show scandals understandably hit that genre hardest of all. Nuked from the airwaves in the early '60s as no network would touch them with a ten-foot pole, only a few low-stakes panel games survived, and it took over a decade for the genre to slowly crawl back. (Jeopardy!'s format of "give the answer, then have the contestants find the question" was born as a way around this.) Even the name of the genre changed; since "quiz show" was associated with rigged challenges, producers took to calling them game shows instead, while downplaying the knowledge questions in favor of word games and puzzles. The drought ended in The '70s as the producers Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Jack Barry, and Chuck Barris led a revival of the genre, in what has since been called the Golden Age of the game show.
    • In 1990, the market was flooded with a vast array of game shows, mostly revivals, and mostly mediocre. The flooding of the networks was so severe that it killed the concept of a daytime game show for many years, leaving The Price Is Right as the last man standing on daytime network television until 2008. Any successes at this point were largely in nighttime syndication.
    • At the Turn of the Millennium, the "big money" game show craze took off, thanks to the unbridled popularity of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The show was so popular that many other producers were quick to copy its tropes (dramatic lighting, bare-bones quiz format, ridiculously huge cash jackpots). Millionaire itself underwent massive Wolverine Publicity which, combined with the deluge of copycats, sent the genre into a tailspin. Millionaire went from a national phenomenon to a quietly-performing shadow of itself in syndication before finally meeting its demise in 2019, and overinflated jackpots quickly fell by the wayside.
    • The genre went through another around 2008 when Deal or No Deal became a smash hit. As with Millionaire, copycats abounded and the original's format wore thin, which the producers tried to cover up with gimmick after gimmick. There were also a myriad of terrible, poorly-planned shows in syndication, such as Temptation and Merv Griffin's Crosswords; the fallout was so severe that GSN started airing televised poker and reality shows in an attempt to catch up with those then-hot markets. The game show field seems to have finally reversed as of 2016 onward, thanks to a popular block on ABC consisting of revamped versions of To Tell the Truth, The $100,000 Pyramid and Match Game that are mostly back-to-basics and have been reasonably well-received.
  • Reality TV in general seems to have fallen into one in the 2010s. Once producers had figured out every interesting concept for a reality show that wasn't flat-out illegal to show on air, they began running the most commercially successful ones into the ground, producing variations on the same basic concept that always seemed more staged than the last. Old hits began faltering, with few new ones to take their place, while many people who, in the 2000s, would've become reality stars became social media stars instead. While the reality TV boom had television critics wringing their hands in the '00s, now it's mostly relegated to a small handful of minor cable networks.

  • While Ryan Murphy has always been a polarizing Show Runner, the quality of his shows took a noticeable downward slide after he signed a contract with Netflix in 2018 to produce new original series for them. At Netflix, Murphy gained Protection from Editors, his worst qualities as a Show Runner (his overblown melodrama and Mood Whiplash, his mean-spirited writing, his Stunt Casting and favoritism towards actors he liked) got blown up to poster-size, his stronger elements seemed to either retreat into the background or turn into Flanderized versions of themselves, and his messaging went from mocking the rich and powerful to sympathizing with them (perhaps exemplified by his film adaptation of The Prom, which heavily defanged the original play's satire of celebrity activism). Many critics who watched his 2021 Netflix series Halston noted the irony of Murphy making a biographical show about a gay man once renowned for his work in a creative industry (in this case fashion) whose prestige declined as he spread himself thin and diluted his stamp of quality by putting it on substandard product. Tellingly, his shows on FX (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Pose, Feud), where he has more oversight, still get good reviews. This article by Jackson McHenry for Vulture goes into more detail.


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