Why some TV shows have ‘legs’ | Inquirer Entertainment

Why some TV shows have ‘legs’

/ 12:10 AM October 24, 2014

Most TV programs are created to last for only one or two “seasons,” before their less than thrilling ratings require that they be replaced with new shows that will delight viewers with special fun and fervor.

On US TV, shows that have turned out to have literally long-running “legs” are paced by “The Amazing Race,” which keeps being cited as the most consistently popular “reality challenge” on the tube. What makes it even a standout?

For one thing, it’s obvious that, despite its exceptional success, it has never taken for granted the viewing public’s amazing and amazed acceptance. It has continued to scour the globe for exciting locations and challenges, and has come up with fresh combinations of teammates to sustain viewers’ involvement and empathy.


Unique challenges


Some of the challenges it has compelled its contestants to measure up to, include performing complicated dance steps in costume at an Indian folk festival, and keeping up with a Russian team of synchronized swimmers and their exacting routine in a pool—while trying their utmost best not to drown!

“Survivor” is another long-running reality challenge, but we prefer “The Amazing Race” to it because it’s more inventive, scenic and truly exciting.

Eminently viewable

Another TV reality program that’s turning out to be eminently viewable is “Undercover Boss.” What makes it special is its “democratizing” objective for top CEOs to leave the comfort of their penthouse offices to go incognito, get their hands dirty and learn from the “ordinary” workers in their employ.

The CEO often turns out to be clumsy on the job so his employees have to teach him, not the other way around. This must give ordinary worker-viewers a psychic surge, explaining the show’s popularity and strong empathic appeal.

Most recently, “Undercover Boss” featured the CEO of a big chain of cineplexes, who was amazed to see that his “lowly” employees beat him by a wide margin in accomplishing tasks briskly and in solving unexpected problems, like a brownout.


This is the sort of inspired TV concept that could run for many more seasons because mass viewership and empathy are virtually assured.

Local shows

On the local TV scene, we’ve had our share of long-running series, like daily soap operas, “Flor de Luna,” which ran for several years. Its current counterpart is “Be Careful With My Heart,” but it’s winding up its storytelling soon, after less than two years of telecast.

In the field of comedy, “John and Marsha” was the record-setter but it has no current counterpart, which should teach us a thing or two about how difficult it has become to keep viewers delighted for the long term, due to the hyped-up multimedia competition that now prevails.

Despite the increased level of competition, however, consistently popular TV production should still possess unique strengths, like a concept that fulfills the mass audience’s felt or subliminal needs, and establishes a firm emphatic bond with them.

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They have to care about the characters or contestants who figure in those productions and stellar value can help in that regard. But, even shows without big names can connect with viewers, so that psychic connection turns out to be the key that opens the gates of prosperity and popularity to only a few, especially “chosen” shows—and, give them legs!

TAGS: amazing race, Legs, Survivor, TV shows, Undercover Boss

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