TV

Big Changes

In honor of The Telegraph moving from its long-time digs on Broadway to a brand-new newsroom in Mercer Village starting today, I've decided to list some of my favorite, game-changing moments on TV.

These are moments that caught viewers by surprise and led to a fundamental shift in the show's direction.

--"Lost" flash-forwards: After a couple of seasons of developing characters through flashbacks, the writers threw us a curve by showing the characters in a relative future from where the story was at, and then flashing back to how they got to THAT future. It was a trippy device that proved effective in re-energizing the show and knocking us for a loop.

--"M*A*S*H" death of Henry Blake: After three seasons, actor McLean Stevenson decided to leave the hit series, and writers gave him one of the most memorable sendoffs ever when his character was killed in a plane crash flying home. With Stevenson and actor Wayne Rogers departing, and actors Harry Morgan and Mike Farrell replacing them, the direction of the show changed from a pure sitcom to a dramedy.

--"Battlestar Galactica" New Caprica: The writers re-directed the entire course of the show after a couple of years by making the villainous Gaius Baltar the new president and having the survivors of the fleet settle on a rock called New Caprica. The series then jumped forward a year in time and showed the fleet in shambles and the settlers just scraping by when the Cylon fleet arrives. It allowed for some great storytelling in that there was the drama of the story happening in the moment of fighting the Cylon rule, plus flashbacks as to what happened during that missing year.

--"Fringe" new dimensions: In addition to the 15-year jump to a future controlled by the Observers, "Fringe" also gave us the remarkable episode that showed how the Peter Bishop of this world died and was replaced by one from a parallel Earth. Not only that, we learned that Walter was the cause of all the chaos between the two Earths by causing the cracks between dimensions to save his son.

--"Doctor Who" regenerations: Every time the actor playing the Doctor decides to leave the series, the character "regenerates," i.e. changing his body to save himself from death. Because the original Doctor, William Hartnell, was too ill to continue his role in the successful series in 1966, the producers came up with a brilliant way to reboot the character and the show by introducing the concept of regeneration and introduce Patrick Troughton as the new Doctor.

Rather than go with the "Bewitched" model of getting an actor who looks similar to play the role in a similar way, every Doctor beginning with Troughton was distinctly different from his predecessor in everything ranging from personality to attire. There's always a genuine buzz as to when it's announced that the role is changing -- how will the current Doctor exit, and who will be the new Doctor, and what will he be like?

What are your favorite game-changing moments in TV?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: I can't make some of this stuff up. Jamie Kennedy is hosting a new competition series on The CW tonight at 8 p.m. called "Oh Sit!" It's basically musical chairs.

Other than that, it's a relatively quiet night except for new episodes of "Royal Pains" and "Necessary Roughness" after a week's hiatus on USA from 9-11 p.m.

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