The idea of changing showrunners is usually enough to send ripples of terror through a series’ viewing audience, often with at least one reference to sharks. Very occasionally it can pull a failing series out of a spiral, at least for a while.
Conventional knowledge states that a storyteller should come in with a fixed idea of what they want to say, get it out there, and call it a day. That keeps the narrative focused in plot, pacing and themes, and lowers the possibility of things going straight off the rails. Obviously, that philosophy works best with finite narratives – put another way, Breaking Bad would’ve lost quite a bit of impact if, instead of ending when the plot called for it, popularity dictated that the show continue around…Walt’s secret twin brother, or something. Before, it was fairly easy to tell which was which – books and films have closed narratives, and TV has long running situational settings. The lines have grown blurrier and blurrier as strictly plotted shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones chart a clear(ish) beginning, middle, and end; and movie franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe propose an increasingly unlimited playground of plotlines.
Red vs Blue has aspects of those things, but is amorphous enough to stand just outside firm categorization. The show’s entering its third major shift, and it never fails to impress me how well it manages to intuit what it needs to keep from growing stagnant. It started out as bite-sized comedic scenarios with a core cast of characters (two teams in the middle of a box canyon, far busier bickering than trying to kill each other), woven very loosely into an overarching plot that needn’t have any particular tie to reason or dramatic heft. Five seasons of that came to an end, with the logic that the mythos was becoming too impenetrable for new viewers – somehow a goofy comedy show had almost two dozen major characters and almost nine hours of history. So they called it a day, ending on a surprisingly bittersweet note.