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Dork Age / Live-Action TV

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  • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • 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. 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.
    • And then you have some elitist snobs that hate everything since the 2005 revival. Compare Doctor Who to Transformers one more time, and it'll be the last thing you do!
    • 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 massacering 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 Finale — the 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 it 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. TV companions from earlier eras like Liz Shaw and Dodo were getting Stuffed into the Fridge in Narmfully mean-spirited ways while others were getting Revisioned as child rape survivors or catching space-STDs, and production problems led to So Vile a Sin, the book that killed off a companion, coming out after the books in which she was dead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, over reliance 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 followup 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..
  • Stargate Franchise:
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 and 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, and all this was coupled with an infamous storyarc 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). 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Sesame Street 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.
  • 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 a segment Franken did on SNL mocking Silverman (Silverman was relatively humorless). Silverman instead chose Jean Doumanian 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 70's; 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.
  • Supernatural's 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.
  • Executive producer Steven Bochco and consultant David E. Kelley left L.A. Law after its sixth season was over; Bochco was 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; the series was beginning to grow its beard back by the eighth season, but it was too late to save the series from cancellation.
  • 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.
  • Season 4 of Community (aka the one Dan Harmon wasn't the showrunner 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".
  • 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's 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.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Season 5 is very controversial due to it being a Compressed Adaptation of the fourth and fifth A Song of Ice and Fire books. One storyline widely despised by both sides is the Dorne arc due to being an Idiot Plot for all the characters involved and the portrayal of the Sand Snakes who are regarded by all sides of the fandom as the worst characters in the show due to being Stupid Evil, their Fight Scene Failure with Jaime and Bronn and their Narm-tastic lines ("You want a good girl but you need a bad pussy"). Another storyline which received much contention is Sansa's story where instead of being a Bastard Understudy of Littlefinger after helping him lie about her aunt Lysa Tully's death, she was forced to marry Ramsey Bolton, making her a Composite Character to her Adapted Out friend from the books, Jeyne Poole, and was raped by him on their wedding night, which is basically the only thing adapted from the Bolton storyline of the books, cutting out the various conspiracies among the Northern Houses. There's also how Stannis' arc was handled particularly with him burning his daughter to appease R'hllor, then getting ignominiously defeated by the Boltons and killed by Brienne, especially as he is still alive in the books. And despite that the show won for "Best Drama Series" at the 2015 Emmys, some cynical viewers believed that it's a Consolation Award for the previous seasons.
    • In light of the show's ending, many fans are liable to write off every season that followed the fifth, as well. General fan consensus is that the moment the show 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), things started going off the rails, culminating in one of the most bitterly controversial TV finales in history. The final two seasons are often seen as when the show completely fell apart, having tried to compress numerous pivotal events into just a few episodes and feeling badly rushed as a result, with its handling of fan-favorite Daenerys in particular seen as a disastrous derailment (and merely the most high-profile example out of many, at that).
  • For fans of scripted series, the early-to-mid 2000s are often held to be a Dork Age for television as a whole, as it was 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 Too Good to Last 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 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).
  • 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 premier (later Back from the Dead and became one of the main characters for 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 becoming from Ensemble Dark Horse to Base-Breaking Character then to Scrappy), the overuse of flashbacks, Roy being Put on a Bus, mediocre plots and most controversially, Laurel 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the new cast weren't exactly as charismaticnote  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 grossout/toilet humor, 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 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.

    Non-scripted series 
  • 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.
  • 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 and then gradually got better.
    • Then there's season 14 (Survivor: Fiji), with a cast full of dull people, a twist that was more or less an Epic Fail and resulted in a Can't Catch Up scenario pre-merge, only a couple of real moments, and even the host says isn't very memorable. In all fairness to the producers, Jeff Probst mentioned that Fiji season 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 34-38 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, 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 were people that were voted out pre-merge but ended up coming back to the game. It is not common for many fans to fear that this show is becoming like Big Brother. Not to mention the cast for Game Changers and Ghost Island has been constantly criticized thanks to the former having questionable casting choices and the latter not having a lot of people make big moves and play to win.
  • 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 Price Is Right had two instances which 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.
  • Late Night With Conan O'Brien got into this after Andy Richter left in 2000.
  • 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.
  • The game show genre as a whole entered a few:
    • 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 with Padding and whatnot began airing. 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.
  • 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. Fugelsang is just plain not remembered as a host, to the point that not even the show itself has ever mentioned him in retrospectives.
  • By many accounts, Wheel of Fortune 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 and it showed — 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. As a result, original announcer Charlie O'Donnell returned to the show in 1989. Rolf lasted only six months before the network version Channel Hopped from NBC to CBS, with the far more experienced Bob Goen taking over (and following the show back to NBC again) before daytime game shows fell by the wayside.
    • 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 Pat, Vanna, and even Charlie. 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; one well-known round took 13 turns before anyone uncovered a letter in OXIDIZED, while another led to a contestant being ruled wrong for mispronouncing PRISTINELY despite the entire puzzle being filled in. Despite its short life, Megaword is still regarded to this day as one of the worst ideas in the show's history.
      • 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.
  • Jeopardy!, Wheel's sister show, has also fallen into its own Dork Age:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.


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