The Nine Plots TV Shows Need To Stop Doing
4. It's a Terrible Life
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It's a Wonderful Life is, of course, the Christmas classic about the self-sacrificing and generous George Bailey, and how rich people can take their money and ruin their lives, and nobody will even notice. Ever actually see that movie? It's really freaking bleak.
But, far be it from sitcom writers to actually see the movie or understand the point of it: every single sitcom has taken this one on. Married...With Children, Night Court, Charles In Charge, Mad About You, The Facts of Life, Alf, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and...Highlander.
You know, that's what we always thought the Capra classic was missing: broadswords and softcore porn stars.
3. Willy Wonka and the Whatever Factory
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We all remember Willy Wonka as one of the most touching and also deeply disturbing movies about midgets painted orange and strange men leading children to (at the very least) painful injury for the sake of irony. Come to think of it, in retrospect it's less a touching children's movie and more like Saw with candy glued to it. "Hello, children, I want to play a game."
Anyway, if you're making a cartoon, it won't fail: you will make a Chocolate Factory episode. Futurama writers may be so smart they write mathematical proofs to justify their plots, but they still have a Willy Wonka episode. Family Guy had to parody it, as Family Guy writers desperately search for another pop culture reference to include instead of writing actual jokes. Dexter's Laboratory, Spongebob Squarepants, Lucy, The Daughter of the Devil...it's so endemic that Adult Swim actually has a show that's nothing BUT Willy Wonka parodies: Superjail!
What, you think the Warden wore a top hat to look fashionable?
2. How The Bad Guy Stole Christmas
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It's starting to occur to us that television writers really can find a lower place, every time the holidays roll around: they keep pulling these plots out.
Sitcoms, obviously, love this one, since it gives their characters license to act like obnoxious jerks, and this is supposed to somehow be funny. This is why Lily is stealing Christmas decorations in How I Met Your Mother, Sue Sylvester is stealing gifts from homeless in Glee (wait, a teacher did this, and they can prove it, and they didn't fire her?), and Mulder and Scully are ghost-hunting in The X-Files
At least that one had a realistic plot: it featured two people who'd killed themselves on Christmas Eve. If this was their choice in TV, we can't really blame them.
1. Enough with the Christmas Carol
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We're pretty sure that if Charles Dickens could see what would have been done to his story, he would have torched it before it ever saw print.
Forget TV shows beating a dead horse, by the time TV got its hands on it, the horse had been curb-stomped, lit on fire, and used as a bathroom by transients. But TV got started in 1944 and it...hasn't...stopped since.
Seriously, this is so bad that The Simpsons did a gag where Homer clicks through a dozen versions of it and all of them except the Star Trek one are shows that actually ripped off this plot. Xena did it. The Six Million Dollar Man has done it. Every damn TV show has done this plot!
Although it does serve one purpose: since these crappy ripoffs start running at the end of October, we can't be allowed to forget Christmas is coming, and by Thanksgiving we're drunken, surly, and hostile: the ideal Christmas spirit.