Why Do TV Shows Often Avoid The Premise?

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It’s happens all to often. A new television show forms around a particular idea, and then tries to avoid that idea as much as possible.  Smallville is one example. The premise is to make a story about Superman as a teenager, but they always go out of their way to make the Smallville-Clark as unSuperman-like as possible.

They even go as far as to have several other comic-heroes on the show with full abilities, but Clark still can’t figure out how to fly. By avoiding the premise they have failed to evolve the character of Clark Kent while everyone around him has evolved, turning a killer show into Smallville-90210. At least when 90210 hit that wall of un-evolving characters, the producers evolved it into Melrose (note: I hated 90210 post season 2 and Melrose post season 1).

Another, more recent example is NBC’s Bionic Woman. Why, when chasing a dangerous bad guy, does Jamie not always use her bionics? Last week she ran almost 2 blocks before she turned on the bionic-speed. Again, the show continues to avoid the premise. Even the genius change of having Jamie programmed with combat training is underused. Avoiding the premise is the cause of the flub that this series has become.

Let’s look at when it is done right…Pushing Daisies. They have weaved the premise into an integral part of the show. Ned’s powers are an essential ingredient in each and every episode. If they were to forget the simple and basic premise of Ned’s touch they show would fail. It would become pretty looking pie-crust with no filling (sorry).

There are many more examples of this phenomenon, I just wanted to touch on a few. Let me know what you think.