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TV Shows That Evolved Into Something Different From Their Original Premise

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TV is an ever-evolving medium that has changed a lot in the last few years. Due to the popularity of shows like Babylon 5 and Lost, we went from standard episodic series with the same characters too long serialized narratives that watch like 10-13 hour movies. As a result, shows have had to change they were written. Classic show premises centralized on one location to cut budget where no longer the norm. Let’s start with an example that many of the time thought was a bad move but nowadays regard as a masterpiece.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

In the 60’s when The Orginal Series was pitched, showrunner Gene Roddenberry had to make it seem like a western in order to get studio executives interested. Deep Space Nine was intended to be a continuation of that thinking by setting it on a space station. It becomes the old west town in the middle of the stars. But as the show found its voice it became more about galactic politics and an impending war than it was about a solitary space station. And that’s why it has become one of the most revered of the Trek series as it was different than what had come before. Next up is one of the earliest examples of a show changing.

Star Trek

Doctor Who

As originally intended, Doctor Who, was a cooky old man that traveled in a time machine with his granddaughter. They were supposed to visit the past more often than not in order to teach children about history. It was even hinted at that the Doctor was actually a Human. Then William Hartnell’s medical condition became worse, so had to be replaced. Bring in the concept of regeneration firmly cementing Doctor Who as one of the most versatile sci-fi TV shows of all time. Following this is an adaptation that lost its way.

BBC

Smallville

Smallville was intended to be a modern re-telling of Superman’s early life before he even left the farm. While it was certainly hit or miss, there is no doubt this is a brilliant premise. About halfway through the series, you begin to realize more episodes are set in Metropolis instead of the small town of Smallville. Many people make the joke that Smallville should have changed its name if it wanted to continue to tell the story of Clark Kent. Next, we have a show that builds its change of premise into the plot and actively makes fun of it.

TV Guide

Community

Community was partially based on show creator Dan Harmon’s real life. It was about a study group full of unlikely friends that grow to genuinely care about each other. However, by the end of season three, it became apparent that this premise would run out of steam before Harmon was done telling his whimsical stories. So Community finds crazy and often convoluted ways to keep the gang at Greendale Community College to the point that the characters feel like they can never leave. But as a result, the preceding seasons felt different as they rarely revolved around studying or classes for that matter. Finally, we have a series that was never planned to be one at all.

Channel 4

Battlestar Galactica

The 2003 reboot of Battlestar Galactica was intended to be a new take on the franchise as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original show. It consisted of two episodes that were filmed like a movie, and the producers talked about it that way. The ratings for the two episodes were off the chart and the studio wanted to continue with the rebooted version of the show. What followed was one of the best TV shows ever made that would actually change it’s premise again near the end of the series.

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