A simple question really. How many episodes will you typically give a show, before you bail out. I will typically give a show 1 or 2 episodes and that is it. Which has led me to not watch shows that my friends are surprised I don't watch because I didn't like the 1 or 2 episodes I watched. Like: 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, and Family Guy to name a few.

The reason I ask is that there is a guy on the radio who will watch shows seemingly forever that he says he doesn't enjoy. He has watched 3 seasons of Mad Men, doesn't like it, but keeps watching it because it gets such rave reviews. That just seems insane to me.

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Are you trying to hit us comic fans over the head with irony here?
I also give a show one or two episodes...sometimes not a full episode if it's really bad. I have started watching shows in later seasons if people who I know share a lot of the same favorites tell me it's good. And I've left for seasons only to return later...that happened with Angel and Supernatural; the middle season storylines weren't interesting to me but later ones were.
It's funny -- sometimes I make my decision by watching a few episodes of a show, and other times I make the decision by not watching episodes. Sometimes there's a show I "want" to see, but episodes build up on the Tivo, and it's the number of those episodes, rather than the one or two I saw, that lets me asses that no, i really don't have any interest in this.

It all depends on the quality of the show, and whether or not I realize I'm not enjoying it so much, if that makes any sense. Sometimes (as with, say, V), it takes a while for a perfectly bland show to make it clear that it will never, ever surprise you.
I'm with Rob that it's a very, um, varied situation, and often dependent on the backlog. A new show will generally get at least one episode from me if I'm going to try it at all (although $#*! My Dad Says only got about two minutes); beyond that, the following factors come into play:
Who's in it: If it's got a cast — or even just one or two cast members — I really enjoy, it will often get anywhere from one to three additional episodes to reel me in. For example, Parenthood got, I think, five episodes on the strength of Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson and Lauren Graham, as well as my love/hate feelings for Erika Christensen and Monica Potter, before I had to rule it out as not my cuppa.

Who made it: If it's a creator whose work I know, I'm more likely to stick around and let it grow. The Bionic Woman remake of a couple years ago got more of a chance from me than it might've if it hadn't been connected to the folks behind the Battlestar Galactica remake.

What else is on: Warehouse 13 and White Collar both got more of a chance with me than they might have if there were more shows on when they premiered.

Where it feels like it's going: No Ordinary Family is on the cusp of losing me just because I can't form a clear picture of where its story could go or what it wants to be.

What critics/friends have to say: I won't watch a show just 'cause it's critically acclaimed or not watch it just 'cause it's critically panned, but if a show that I'm lukewarm on gets positive reviews, I'll be more likely to tune in again to see if I can catch what's missing. And vice versa; I might walk away from a show I'm lukewarm on if the critics make the case that it's not worth sticking around.

I think those are my main decision-making factors.
One show!

I knew within 10 minutes of the first Sopranos episode that it was brilliant, and within 15-20 of the first Mad Men episode. Deadwood and Battlestar Galactica, similarly, quickly convinced us that here were people with a story to tell and great control of their medium. (BG wouldn't quite be up with the other three shows, but it's ambitious and intelligent all the same.)

I gave Chuck and How I met your Mother a watch, just because they get raves here, but they didn't pass the one show test. Could NOT see what the big deal was.

But time is in short supply in Chez Figs, so we can only afford to pick a handful of shows that we try to follow.

Having said all that, I probably watched about a dozen episodes of Buffy before I realised why it was a great show! Had more time and patience on my hands back then!

When it first came out, I watched a few episodes of 'The IT Crowd' before deciding it wasn't that funny, but I've only heard great things about it since. May have to review that position sometime.

The 'guy on the radio' sounds like a tool!

But then I keep reading Johns' Green Lantern just to try to see what everyone else sees in it, so I must be a tool too!
If I can get through one episode without constantly changing channels, that's a good sign! If I actually want to see it again next week, I can probably make it through a season.
It depends.

When Heroes first stated, I was all over it. Couldn't get enough.

Then Season two started and I completely lost interest. Happens sometimes.

If a show runs for a really long time and doesn't have any sort of real continuity (i.e. The Simpsons, South Park), I'll lose interest too.

I guess I've never exactly been a TV junkie.
I blew hot and cold on Smallville from the beginning. Yes, it's dumb sometimes, and not exactly cutting edge TV, but I'm halfway into season 8 on DVD now, and it's hit me.

You have to respect something that falls so squarely into the pulp tradition of keeping the episodes coming week in week out, year after year, for 10 years! And it's very old-fashioned pulp plotting with staples that have been around forever, but they just about work. Make the girlfriend a witch for a storyline, have all the villains escape from the phantom zone, keep the lovers apart, bring them together, bring in new heroes, an evil lookalike etc etc. Maybe it didn't set the world on fire, but 10 years is a long time in TV. Now I just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, and admire it to some extent.

Of course, keeping Superman in the mass consciousness for another generation is a worthwhile thing to do as well.

(It helps too, to have a beer every time it cuts to the Smallville Medical Centre. That way, you never get thirsty watching it.)
I'm usually a two or three episode guy... it can vary depending on if it's 30 or 60 minutes, but I have found that there is no way to judge a show on one episode. The pilot show has to set up EVERYTHING; there's so much exposition that the story and acting have to fit their way around that. Not that it's impossible to judge from one show... but I think the flavor and themes of the show are really highlighted in episodes 2 and 3.

Oh, and Alan M... I personally am enjoying the heck out of No Ordinary Family, and I can see two or three very legitimate directions for it to go. I can right now see at least a season and a half of good story coming from it... and it's on episode 3. Of course, as always, YMMV (and I gotta be honest... if that mother gets any more hypocritical, I may have to start wishing for atomic banana peels! :D )

Hmmm ... I thought I answered this but I don't see my response here. I don't really have a rule of thumb, but I guess only one. Whether I continue to follow a show has as much to do with my willingness to commit an hour a week to it along with any/everything else I want/have to do. So even new shows I like might not get me as a regular viewer because I have only so much time. So, this year, for that reason, I expect to be at best just an occasional viewer of Undercovers, Hawaii Five-O, Mad Men, and maybe Blue Bloods.

Now, if I'm a regular viewer, I can stick with it to the bitter end, usually. I did with Hill Street Blues, Ugly Betty, L.A. Law, and others. On the other hand, I got fed up with Desperate Housewives three years in.
Almost all of my TV watching is after-the-fact. I'm not really home much, and I turn my TV on mostly on the weekends to watch the shows I've recorded during the week. If I hear a lot about a show, I may start recording that one too. That having been said, I was told to watch Big Bang Theory and wasn't too impressed. I thought it was alright, but nothing earth-shattering.

I record The Office, Parks and Recreation, Simpsons, Family Guy, Community, and 30 Rock. I also watch Adventure Time on my On-Demand channel.

Really, unless it's something I already enjoy, it's a whole lot of Big Ten Network and ESPN. I love news programs, so SportsCenter and the local news dominate. About once or twice a week I'll watch a Netflix movie.

And ALL of this is watched (or listened to) while I'm grading papers.

Anyone else think that No Ordinary Family just doesn't seem to have the hook required to make it a must watch?

I mean, it's not a bad show, but it just seems to be missing that "oomph" that reels you back in week after week. I'd like to be more excited about it.

Getting to the question at hand, is it that hook that brings you back? Does it matter whether it's a drama or a comedy? Is there some other unknown quantity that makes you say, "yeah, I'm really digging this" or "no, just not doing it for me"?

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