Thursday, March 12, 2015

The New TV Normal

I couldn't resist this old tv picture.
Considering mine aren't much newer.
The "mini-series". I think that's what they're calling new tv shows now. The term mini-series had a totally different meaning back in the day. In my mind, I associate the term with adaptions of Jackie Collins books, something with Farah Fawcett, or stuff that would be on Lifetime with Patty Duke. Now, it's the new tv "normal". Up until more recent years, a show would start for the "season" in September and run all the way until some time in May. There would be about twenty-two to twenty-four episodes in a season. I feel like One Tree Hill was ENDLESS (in a good way!). Same with 90210 (the original- the other one doesn't even count). There would be a little hiatus in December around the holidays, but for the most part, you could count on a new episode almost every week. Now, you're lucky if a show gives you ten episodes! The networks are apparently basing this on research of "binge-watching". "They" are saying this is the new way of watching. Watching a whole season in a weekend. So maybe ten episodes seems like enough?

I have to think money has a lot to do with this new shortened season phenomenon as well. I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of former "movie stars" are returning to the small screen in new tv shows. Well, if you take a Taraji Henson and Terrence Howard and put them in a show together, I'm thinking that's a pretty hefty salary bill right there. Then you have guest starts the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Courtney Love, Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Judd Nelson, etc and there is even more cash being spent. With all that star power and no guarantee of what kind of ratings will come of it, they're only going for a shortened season. I heard Empire was picked up for next season at thirteen episodes with the option for nine more. Empire exploded- it's the biggest thing on tv right now, as far as I'm reading. My guess is that while they expect it to keep doing well, they want to make sure before spending all that money. So they give them the option for the nine more instead of outright ordering them. So great- we'll get our twenty-two episodes next year. But hey- what do we do in the meantime? Empire is great, so we'll all come back for the Cookie-monster. What about the other shows though?

The Slap- it's been ok so far. There are only eight episodes. The first episode was so confusing that I had to look up how all the characters were supposed to be related. They tried to stuff so much into that first episode that had they only decided from the get-go to make it more of an extended show, they could've taken their time and really fleshed it all out. The next episodes sort of focus just on one portion of the group vs the whole scenario of what the focus is supposed to be. I've enjoyed the episodes after the first totally uneven one. But even now that I know who all the players are and how they're related, the characters seem like cartoons. They're totally stereotypical and I really hate them all. I'll watch all eight episodes, but then it will be over and I will have forgotten it in half the time it took to watch it. These quick hits of entertainment are empty. Superficial. Nothing to write home about. It's sad.

I love tv. LOVE it. Everyone who knows me knows about my love of television. I have two dvr's that are at almost full capacity at all times. Not because I don't get to watch the stuff I dvr but because there is just always MORE. So I feel qualified to say the way episodic tv is going is SAD. I love to look forward to September for the beginning of my shows. I used to know and take comfort in knowing that September was the start of my school-year long INVESTMENT. I'm IN. Gray's Anatomy, Private Practice (RIP), October Road (RIP), so on and so forth.

Now, as soon as we're in a groove and I'm into a show, it's over. All of a sudden it's "Two more episodes until the finale!". I'm looking at you GIRLS, Togetherness, House of Lies, Nurse Jackie. Sure, these are cable, but even back in the Sex and the City days there were twenty-something episodes in a season. Ten, or twelve- tops, is how they're all rolling now. It's such a buzzkill. I feel like the network thinks they're leaving us wanting or something. No, it's just what we're stuck with. I'd rather watch than not watch, so I do, but I'm certainly not all jazzed that we only get ten. It's a ridiculous tease. I have friends who really only hate-watch GIRLS because the characters are such awful people. But if there were more episodes where the character could really evolve, I think there would be a lot less hate-watching. Yeah, they're still watching, but it's not the same as that deep love those of us superfans felt for Sex and the City! I really think part of the allure of SATC was that you lived with those four women over months and months. You got comfortable with them. They were like roommates or a flannel robe. Hannah & friends are a bunch of narcissistic assholes you basically pass in the hallway. Samantha probably would've just been a one-note sexaholic if we only saw her for ten episodes a season.

I hope this short season trend doesn't last. Unfortunately I don't see that being the case. If it's always going to come down to money, then it's always going to be cheaper to do less episodes. It's just unfortunate for the viewers. We're being shortchanged. It's almost not worth it to invest in any new show. If it's good, it's only on for two months out of twelve. It's like eating one potato chip. Or they get cancelled before they can gain any momentum. I can't tell you how many shows B and I have loved that got cancelled. It's almost inevitable that if we like something, it's gone. We're still mourning the loss of Dr. Lightman and the whole gang on SouthLAnd. Don't even talk to me about Friday Night Lights.

I guess I'll just have to suck up this abbreviated season trend and just hope for more good television to roll out since they will need something to fill the slots. We haven't started the new House of Cards yet and that one uses so much brain power and attention it's not like we can just whip through it like other tv brain candy. Maybe we'll wait until summer when there is REALLY nothing on tv! Oh, wait, I heard Bachelor in Paradise is coming back....

No comments:

Post a Comment