Critic's Picks: 10 TV Series to Finally Stop Watching

1:49 PM 6/24/2016

by Daniel Fienberg

From 'Vinyl' to 'House of Cards,' a TV critic's list of the shows so far this year that lost us, or never took off.

'Vinyl,' 'House of Cards'
'Vinyl,' 'House of Cards'
HBO/Netflix

One of the most important skills of our Too Much TV Era is knowing when to cut bait, choosing when to delete a series recording from your DVR, a subscription from your Hulu queue, scrapping your iTunes season pass.

This is not a skill that I possess and it's almost a cause for celebration when an ABC cancels something like Castle and spares me the chore or a cause for misery when a CMT picks up Nashville, a show that I've been trying to quit for years.

But here are 10 shows I've either removed or I'm removing from my DVR at the moment, some of which I've been watching for more than a decade. Realistically some of them I'll keep watching out of completist compulsion, but maybe you may be more resolute. And if you love these shows still or never watched them in the first place … excellent!

  • Vinyl

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    Actually, we can all drop this one from our collective DVR, since HBO made the surprising decision to backtrack on its renewal for this heavily hyped, spectacularly pedigreed '70s musical muddle. And it's a relief. Vinyl episodes had already become arduous homework by the end of the first season, watchable because of Bobby Cannavale, Juno Temple, Ray Romano, Ato Essandoh and little else. Acknowledging failure/disappointment and moving on is a valuable skill for viewers and networks alike.

  • Quantico

    ABC

    Phillippe Bosse/ABC

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me for 22 episodes? That's on me. ABC's wretchedly acted, convolutedly structured, empty-twist-laden freshman semi-hit kept spinning its narrative wheels at a pace that gave the illusion it was more than banal terrorism porn, but a finale that failed to introduce anything resembling an intriguing twist for the second season earned the "Delete Recording" call from this viewer.

  • Fear the Walking Dead (or The Walking Dead)

    AMC

    Richard Foreman/AMC

    Choose one, but we don't need both, unless you love poorly sketched characters doing ill-conceived things for weakly justified reasons with limitedly satisfying returns all for the occasional moment of inspired undead gore. I'm dropping Fear because unlike The Walking Dead, it hasn't had any peaks to speak of, only dramatic valleys featuring characters who were too horribly introduced in early episodes to ever be effectively redeemed.

  • Masters of Sex

    Showtime

    Warren Feldman/Showtime

    You can list on one hand the number of shows that have gone from critically admired to entirely forgotten with the speed of Showtime's time-jumping Masters and Johnson drama. I had five episodes mellowing on my DVR for almost a year before realizing that "Arousing the Gorilla" is the new "Jumping the Shark." You can't come back from that, guys.

  • Sleepy Hollow

    Fox

    Courtesy of FOX

    This equation is simple. Nicole Beharie + Tom Mison = Sleepy Hollow's Appeal. So Sleepy Hollow - Nicole Beharie = Show I'm Done With. This decision is made all the easier by how erratic and frequently disappointing Sleepy Hollow has been since that terrific first season.

  • The Vampire Diaries

    The CW

    Annette Brown/The CW

    Hard to believe, but The CW's supernatural soap was once one of my favorite shows on all of TV. Unfortunately, the first post-Elena season was a repetitive loop of brotherly sacrifices, poorly cast villains and dull new characters. Maybe a hard-and-fast end date is what Vampire Diaries needs to get rejuvenated? Or maybe this show about unkillable antiheroes just outlived its inspiration.

  • Modern Family

    ABC

    Courtesy of ABC

    Modern Family served a valuable purpose in establishing ABC's family comedy template and proving that single-cam comedies could be popular hits as well as critical favorites, but whereas one could count on a few well-executedly farcical episodes per season even in recent years, this last season was a flat, consistently weak dud. ABC has at least four or five superior family comedies that currently do what Modern Family once did.

  • House of Cards

    Netflix

    David Giesbrecht/Netflix

    First off, this is Netflix, so I know perfectly well that there's no literal subscription to be deleting on my DVR. Second off, I know very well that the people who still love House of Cards love it with a weakness-ignoring distraction I both fear and admire. So … keep watching it. But I have 10 or 15 Netflix shows that I actually like or love that I haven't been able to catch up with because of Netflix's unrelenting programming volume, so the chances of my being eager to spend five or six hours catching up on a less-interesting-than-reality political soap opera rather than something I'd enjoy more are low.

  • The Amazing Race

    CBS

    CBS

    CBS is already beginning the disengaging process by trimming The Amazing Race to a single cycle for the 2016-17 season and it should be encouraged. Once the Emmy-winning Cadillac of reality franchises, the Amazing Race name has been sullied by a bad social-media-stars season, a shrieky blind-dating season and a subpar All-Stars installment. The format remains strong, but maybe taking a few years off to creatively recharge would help.

  • So You Think You Can Dance

    Fox

    Courtesy of FOX

    Fox has been tinkering this one to death for years with new twists and seasonal themes. This season's "Next Generation" theme has been the nail in the coffin. Yes, the kids are sweet and precocious, but they're also unformed and untrained, and every performance and every judge's response is tiptoeing the line around abject creepiness, falling too far to the negative side too often.

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