(Television Without Pity) — We're always passionate about TV but never more so than when it involves shows that are truly awesome and original. Sometimes we get so excited that we even watch them in real time, instead of DVR-ing past the commercials. So when those same shows take a turn for the worse, the disappointment is almost physically painful. Here's our look at returning shows for the 2011-12 season that we used to love, but now have to force ourselves to watch on the off chance that they eventually return to their former glory.
Why We Loved It: We loved the idea that an adorable nerd was somehow able to help out spies with the power of his supercharged brain. And the dynamic between Chuck and crush/handler Sarah was charmingly awkward, while Casey provided necessary gruffness. And then there were the non-spy-savvy Morgan, Awesome, and Ellie, who helped ground the show with their real-world humanity.
What Changed: Now everyone's a spy, or at least in the loop on the spy stuff. And Sarah and Chuck have moved from crush to married, taking away all of the possibility for outside romances. Even Casey has been given a softer side with his daughter. And heading into this season, Chuck isn't even the one with the supercharged brain; it's Morgan. Where'd our favorite little nerd herder go?
Can It Be Saved? Considering there are only a handful of episodes left before the show signs off for good, probably not. The only hope is that the series wraps up in a somewhat tolerable way.
Why We Loved It: When this show shot out of the gate, we were hooked by its brightly spun tales with infectious tunes. We were rooting for the underdogs and secretly cheering on Cheerios head coach Sue Sylvester. It was bright and fun and had us proclaiming ourselves Gleeks.
What Changed: The storylines changing wildly from week to week, the characters becoming shrill versions of themselves, too many new cast members being added, and the "lessons of the week" being preached all played a part in the show's downfall.
Can It Be Saved? We say maybe. If the show had one person keeping track of storylines and had a plan for where it would like to go from season to season that was consistent with the characters' previously stated traits, we could buy it. But after watching "The Glee Project" and seeing that the producers just want to cram in even more personalities, instead of focusing on what the show does best (the music), we're doubtful that it will improve.
Why We Loved It: It's always been a procedural, but we were attracted to the show's quirky characters and the easy, banter-filled chemistry between the leads. And the cases were cool, too.
What Changed: They hooked up the leads and turned one of the most beloved characters into a serial killer's assistant. And now Brennan is pregnant? Yeah, it's a mess.
Can It Be Saved? Probably not. The show has lost its mojo. While we still love Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, they both deserve better.
Why We Loved It: It was a fantastic show about two (not unattractive) brothers fighting off monsters that have filled urban legends for years, while trying to find out about their twisted history in the process. And there's sexy Metallicar.
What Changed: Even before creator Eric Kripke stepped down, the show killed off its leads a few too many times. There are only so many times we can see the Winchesters revived or returned from hell before we lose all interest.
Can It Be Saved? We're not sure. Castiel as an all-powerful God might have jumped a shark that can never be un-jumped. Maybe make the previous three or four seasons a dream and start again? That might work.
Why We Loved It: A captivating, good-natured reality show that had people traipsing all over the world. It's a competition and travel porn rolled into one, with the awesomely restrained Phil Keoghan as the host.
What Changed: We're sure that the tasks have been getting increasingly easier, while the contestants have been getting decreasingly interesting. That's a bad combination.
Can It Be Saved? Definitely. Heck, a solid cast for "Project Runway" has made that show watchable again. Just up the difficulty level and forget about bringing back former contestants (or veterans of other reality TV series) and the show will be good as new.
Why We Loved It: Like "Bones," this show is a procedural that nonetheless won us over with the acting quality and the uniqueness of its characters. We loved that Hugh Laurie was playing a brilliant misanthrope who nearly killed people in order to cure them.
What Changed: The cast changed multiple times, and then Cuddy hooked up with House, who sometimes seemed to forget he was a doctor. Oh, and then he homicidally drove a car into Cuddy's home.
Can It Be Saved? Signs point to no. Lisa Edelstein's departure makes the Huddy relationship a moot point, but the show has gone off the rails in general and even the talented Laurie isn't enough to keep us hanging around much longer.
Why We Loved It: It was about a group of friends hanging out, which we've seen a million times before. But here there was the twist that we were flashing back to find out how Ted ended up happily married.
What Changed: We still haven't met the mother. But in the larger scheme, Barney's shtick is wearing thin and everyone's worst qualities are starting to show.
Can It Be Saved? We'd like to think so. Every season, the producers get our hopes up by saying they're going to course-correct. But after last year's uneven (and largely unfunny) season, we're skeptical.
Why We Loved It: This sitcom took the U.K. series to a new level and had us mesmerized by this bizarre paper company in Scranton. Plus, Steve Carell had brilliant comic timing.
What Changed: Pam and Jim got married, she got annoying, there was too much Dwight, and Michael was too much of an idiot. The show simply forgot to be funny.
Can It Be Saved? Yes. James Spader is coming on, which should infuse this show with some quirky awesomeness and hopefully add new life to the series. And while Carell will be missed, it will be nice to see if the writers can service the other characters well.
Why We Loved It: One of the original competitive reality shows, it gave us a chance to see how terribly manipulative people can be when they are dumped on an island and given the opportunity to win a million dollars. We've seen masterminds, manipulative players, and fantastic back-stabbers along the way.
What Changed: The show has become too reliant on its former stars by doing seasons filled with former players. The gimmick hasn't panned out for us, though Boston Rob might disagree.
Can It Be Saved? Yes -- if the show actually learns from its mistakes and brings in fresh contestants who understand the game and actually want to play it, instead of sitting around and riding the coattails to the end.
Why We Loved It: We were immediately taken in by this soapy series filled with attractive people who did bad things, and we liked the mystery thrown in with all these rich bitches.
What Changed: There are only so many times we can see the exact same story play out. How many times will Lynette fight with her husband? Even jumping ahead five years didn't help.
Can It Be Saved? Nope. But it's on its way out the door, so at least we'll be put out of our misery soon.
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Which old favorite are you finally giving up on this fall? Let us know in the comments.