QUICK QUESTION: Which Prolific TV Producers Should Take a Vacation Already?

By Price Peterson

Sep 19, 2012

It takes a special breed of person to produce just ONE hit show, let alone a string of them over several decades. But for obvious reasons, television networks want each new series to be as much of a sure bet as possible. One of the best ways to ensure a hit is to work with producers who've created them in the past. The problem is, too often it seems like mega-producers get TOO MANY shows on the air, perhaps spreading themselves a bit too thin, and, if anything, become just as much of a crapshoot quality-wise as an untested young talent. So we say, take a break, you buncha billionaires! Let's get more untested fresh blood up in our TVs!

So if you were in charge of the universe, which mega-producer would you tell to take a break for a while? Here are at least six people who have no fewer than THREE shows currently airing (or coming up). Make no mistake, all of the people listed below are masters of the industry and respectively brilliant, but perhaps masters should concentrate doing a few things well and not bogarting primetime?

Josh Schwartz

More or less the inspiration for this post just for the sheer number of series he'll be bringing to The CW—a network with only TEN hours a week to program, mind you—Josh Schwartz has in recent years begun to emphasize quantity over quality. Sorry, it just needs to be said. The O.C. was fantastic, Chuck had its charms, and then... well. Then he made more shows. A lot of them. Enough already?

Current Shows: Hart of Dixie (The CW), Gossip Girl (The CW)

Upcoming shows: Cult (The CW), The Carrie Diaries (The CW), Copeland Prep (The CW pilot), Losing Our Cool (Fox pilot)

Shonda Rhimes

Who could've predicted that one of the masterminds behind the Britney Spears film Crossroads would become one of the most powerful and prolific writer-producers in TV history? Well, Grey's Anatomy was a deserved hit (at first), but Rhimes' self-plagiarism at ABC started wearing thin a long time ago. Fortunately Scandal has turned into something of a treat, but there's a sizable contingent of viewers who MIIIIGHT have become fatigued by Rhimes' distinctive pretty-girl-sad-times style, you know?

Current Shows: Grey's Anatomy (ABC), Scandal (ABC), Private Practice (ABC)

Upcoming shows: Under the Gun (NBC pilot)

Ryan Murphy

The best thing that can be said about Ryan Murphy is that he doesn't tend to repeat himself and for that reason he's undeniably made the TV landscape a better, more interesting place. But the most damning (and accurate) thing to say about him is that he has a crippling inability to quality-control. Whether it's how dramatically Glee or Nip/Tuck went from must-watch to must-avoid, there's definitely a consistency issue at Ryan Murphy Productions, and constantly generating NEW shows is not the best way mitigate it.

Current Shows: Glee (Fox), The New Normal (NBC), American Horror Story (FX)

Jerry Bruckheimer

Obviously the kinds of shows Jerry Bruckheimer produces aren't the most creatively thrilling ones on television, so nobody's demanding originality here. No, Bruckheimer's shows are mostly mindless, expensive diversions for people who just want to kick back after work. And that's fine! But after a while they've just become interchangeable and the sheer number of them has made TV a worse, more boring place.

Current Shows: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS), CSI: NY (CBS), The Amazing Race (CBS)

Upcoming Shows: Trooper (TNT pilot), Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives (NBC pilot)

Mark Burnett

Mark Burnett is in the franchise business. He doesn't just produce reality shows, he produces DOZENS OF SEASONS of reality shows. He's good at it (all the people on this list are brilliant businesspeople) but that doesn't mean we deserve the same old thing over and over. Even people who ASK for the same old thing over and over don't actually deserve it. Let's do better.

Current Shows: Survivor (CBS), Shark Tank (ABC), School Spirits (Syfy), Celebrity Apprentice (NBC), The Voice (NBC), Stars Earn Stripes (NBC)

Upcoming Shows: Romancing the Globe (USA pilot), The Bible (History miniseries), The Job (CBS pilot)

Chuck Lorre

I'm guessing Chuck Lorre already owns several castles by now? Sir, please go chill in one of them. We'll be fine.

Current Shows: Two and a Half Men (CBS), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Mike & Molly (CBS)

J.J. Abrams

Haha, sorry guys! But real-talk: J.J. Abrams is NOT the surefire bet a lot of us may have once considered him to be. Maybe he's just too scattered with his thriving film career, but it's time to accept that the Bad Robot brand is no longer synonymous with quality. Alcatraz? Undercovers? And don't get me started on his newest Event TV dud Revolution. Mr. Abrams, you are cordially invited to take some time off, regroup, and come back only when you have the time to actually make these concepts actually worth our while.

Current Shows: Fringe (Fox), Person of Interest (CBS), Revolution (NBC)

Upcoming Shows: Untitled Robot Cops Project (Fox pilot)

Your turn! Which producers or showrunners should take some time off?


  • Comments (62)
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  • Tim_H Sep 20, 2012

    Shonda Rhimes can't take a break, too many things left to be resolved w/ greys. Josh Schwartz needs to take a long break, thought he is talented at producing shows that appeal to a certain group of people. J.J. Abrams is good at creating an interesting concept but has huge continuity and end game issues; bad robot used to be a green light to watch a good show, but now its more of a precautionary message.

  • NickLopez2 Sep 20, 2012

    Alan Ball. He is only a little more talented than Ryan Murphy, but they have very similar problems on their shows. His new show Banshee may be watchable for a season or two, but it will derail after that.

  • EsmeBuffay Sep 20, 2012

    Ryan Murphy really needs to take a break. Or even better, stop making the gay characters in his shows complete stereotypes and parodies of gay people in general. It's comedic that he thinks these characters help the gay community at all, if anything they hurt it by confirming everything the people who are against it always say.

  • mog253 Sep 22, 2012

    i'll be totally with you on this if it wasn't for AHS

  • JT_Kirk Sep 20, 2012

    JJ Abrams should retire, I mean, "take a vacation". A nice, long vacation where he doesn't ruin TV and movies alike while being praised by people who remember his better works and want to apply that quality to the lesser materials he produces now. Maybe go down to South America, learn to throw pottery, or to a small island in the South China Sea and master an archaic martial art.

    This is a good list though, here's how I voted:

    JJ Abrams: yes, obviously, as stated above.

    Ryan Murphy: I voted no, even though The New Normal looks painfully grating as long as his next thing isn't focused in that same direction it seems like he knows how to make compelling tv.

    Chuck Lorre: No again, his shows are exactly what they need to be, home-run sitcoms for CBS. If anything, I think he needs to do a 4th, this 12-13 season is really poor.

    Shonda Rhimes: I gave a yes, she's repeating the same notes over and over.

    Jerry Bruckheimer: A no vote here, the man knows how to deliver cinema-quality visuals and compelling light fare, keeps the hard dramas in check and keeps eyeballs on the networks.

    Mark Burnett: Yes, take a damned break, you're the best at what you do and what you do is ruining television.

    Josh Schwartz: Another no, he does light fare as well, but on the sillier side of things, and it keeps tv from getting too serious about itself. That said, Carrie Diaries nearly tipped my vote the other way.

  • ayyyy1 Sep 20, 2012

    Tyler Perry needs to take a break, even though he's just working on one show now. Especially from making movies.

  • pcsjunior002 Sep 20, 2012

    I think that 2 shows at a time is about the limit that any producer can really handle if they want to keep quality going, especially if they intend to be the brains behind the show. I think someone like J. J. Abrams is usually a bit more involved with the show than someone like Jerry Bruckheimer. While Bruckheimer's way works as far as procedurals go, I'd rather see less procedurals, so I'm fine with him taking a seat for a little while, and involved people like Abrams stretch themselves too thin, so it'd be nice for them to dial it back a little bit, too.

  • Locutus-of-Borg Sep 19, 2012

    I would say NONE of them. just keep making good TV

  • citizens13 Sep 19, 2012

    Not to rain on the JJ Abraham's hate/love parade, but Person of interest is Jonathan Nolan's brain child. JJ. Give credit where credit is due.

  • tnetennba Sep 19, 2012

    Wikipedia says that it was based on a screenplay by the two of them, so maybe he should get some credit for that. But it's just silly when he gets credit for Revolution (created by Eric Kripke) and Alcatraz (created by Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt).

  • SaraStojanovi Sep 19, 2012

    i think you missed the most important one though: Julie Plec.


  • Anonymous_A Sep 20, 2012

    Yeah and she should give the showrunning duties back to Kevin Williamson.

  • Shikady Sep 19, 2012

    All of above. Lifetime vacations for everybody on that list except JJ Abrams...I'd give him 2-5 years forced break.

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