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The Best and Worst Follow-Ups To Classic TV Series

Why do so many creators strike out after striking gold with a TV classic? And what makes a good sophomore show?

The Romanoffs Kerry Bishe Amazon Season 1 Episode 2

Kerry Bishe in “The Romanoffs”

Jan Thijs / Amazon

As the line between film and television continues to blur, some divides remain unchanged. While it’s not uncommon for the best filmmakers to follow one great movie with another, TV creators rarely enjoy such a streak. The number of creators with two truly elite shows on their resume can be counted with fingers. With so much television that can go toe-to-toe with the best cinema, why do so many showrunners follow their hits with flops?

As it turns out, there’s no hard-and-fast rule. There’s no single mistake that every writer is making without realizing it. Sometimes new networks and collaborators do more harm than good. Creators can use their newfound Hollywood power to take risks that don’t work. Others fall into the trap of trying to recreate their first show. And sometimes, business considerations just get in the way.

Regardless, the second acts of famed showrunners is an interesting but little-told story. Some of TV’s brightest minds have produced incredibly subpar follow-ups, but once in a while they create a gem that surpasses the original work.

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