Some questions about US Television? :)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Craig: Mclaren, Aug 11, 2003.

  1. Craig: Mclaren

    Craig: Mclaren Second Unit

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    Hello all,

    I've been a big fan of US TV shows since i was a kid in the mid 80's. I'm currently loving the High standard of programming that has been exported to the UK, The Shield, 24,The Sopranos, CSI, Boomtown, The West Wing etc. However i have some questions that i'm hoping my American cousins can answer [​IMG]

    1. Shorter program length? My Airwolf, Miami Vice and Kojak DVD's have an average episode length of 47 minutes. My CSI and 24 DVD's run an average 42 minutes?? In 20 years we've lost five minutes of programming for more bloody hot dog commercials?? Is this really necessary. I know how important advertising revenue is but it should never affect the quality of prime time shows. 47 minutes is a fine minimum I reckon [​IMG]

    2. Title sequences and theme tunes.

    CSI has a great song for its theme tune but the title sequence is shockingly short. Less than 30 seconds. It used to be a nice 60 seconds standard for all my fav shows. 24 is a great show but it lacks a killer theme tune. Though i can forgive it because it is trying to be different. The last great decade for original themes was the 90's. The X-Files , E.R, The Simpson's etc. Is this now a lost art? The 70's and 80's had lots of great theme tunes and title sequences, sometimes better than the actual shows! Is there a reason for this decline?

    3. Swearing in prime time?

    US shows have always been violent but will the censors ever allow the f word etc to be spoken by the likes of Jack Bauer?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    1. You've got shows getting smaller audiences due to more programming/entertainment options and higher (more expensive) production values. The money to pay for that has to come from somewhere, and that's generally going to be more advertising.

    2. A lot of US television execs look at theme songs as an opportunity for the audience to turn away. And, referring back to #1, if you've got to cut runtime to fit in more ads, I'd rather it came out of the theme song than the show itself.

    It's not all bad; I for one like the Randy Newman song they've added to Monk, but it's got just as many detractors (of course, I really like Randy Newman). Firefly also had a nifty theme, and the Dragnet title sequence was very cool (but will probably be replaced this fall).

    3. We have goofy standards. I'm not going to cry too much over not having characters dropping f-bombs with regularity - it's generally used as a filler word anyway.
     
  3. PS Nystrom

    PS Nystrom Second Unit

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    2. You want a great, modern theme song and opening sequence? I recommend Six Feet Under .

    Pieter
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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  6. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    The whole purpose of commercial broadcast television is to attract the largest audience possible to view the commercials. Quality is definitely secondary to quantity.

    The lower the ratings, the less the networks can charge for the advertising. So regardless of quality, those shows that don't deliver the eyeballs for the advertisers are cancelled.
     
  7. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Considering the way many stations use the actual SHOW to put up their banner ads [​IMG] I wonder how long it will be before commercials start running through the entire episode (i.e. like in a picture-in-picture window)
     
  8. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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  9. Andrew Grall

    Andrew Grall Supporting Actor

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    Speaking of the censorship of the f* word...

    I noticed on last nights broadcast of Jerry Maguire, they removed the whole scene between the little kid and Jerry where Jerry says,

    "The f* zoo is closed."

    and the little kid responds with "You said F*.", and after an awkward silence says "Don't worry, I won't tell."

    Sucked to have that omitted for such a silly reason...
     
  10. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    One of the most bizarre things I saw was a Dennis Leary stand up act on Comedy Central. They started the show by playing the "asshole" song and then Dennis came out and sang it. They never bleeped the word "asshole" throughout the the entire song, but when the song ended, Dennis started to do his routine and talked about that song.

    Basically his bit was about how his son started singing the "asshole" song around school and when the teacher talked to Dennis about where his son could have head this song from, he had to explain that it was his song [​IMG], but the weird thing was, they bleeped out every reference to the word "asshole" [​IMG].

    Why would they let it go through the song, but not during his act? (which was describing the words to the song he just sang uncensored) [​IMG]
     
  11. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I don't think anyone can make heads-or-tails of the how basic cable censors things. I think the ultimate example is South Park. They get away with murder on that show. Why can can cartoons say things that humans can't?


    I'm glad 24 has no theme. It gives a the show a "documentary" feel. I actually don't like themes and TV show songs in general. Sure, some have the nostalgia factor, but that's all.
     
  12. Craig: Mclaren

    Craig: Mclaren Second Unit

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    Thanks for the response people [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Some interesting stuff there. I'll throw in my two cents. Regarding the importance of revenue from commercials can you tell me exactly how many advert breaks a standard hour show will have? I was last in the states in 2001 and I remember The Simpson's had something like three ad breaks compared to the one we have in the UK. Does this mean a 60 minute show has five or six? What about the money made from overseas sales. Prime time US shows have been popular since the 60's and surely shows like CSI which are picked up by 50 plus countries worldwide brings in tons of green? Surely this money pays off the budget and with some to spare? You also have the new TV DVD market. These shows are released across all four Regions. Plus they'll be making money from world wide re-runs for the next 25 years old. Colombo has never been off UK TV and has been bought up by THREE channels [​IMG] Starsky and Hutch, Kojak, The A-Team etc are still racking in the bucks via syndication. Surely the Stations can afford to give us a 47 minute show complete with a killer 1 minute title sequence again? I always thought the title sequence/ theme tune was one of the most attractive things about a good show. A nice teaser followed by a cool tune sets you up nicely. I'm checking out a re-run of The Equalizer just now specifically for that classic tune (I like the show too though!) [​IMG]

    I'm glad your enjoying a few Brit shows. However our TV industry is a joke at the moment. However some shows of the decade so far that are worth checking out are The League of Gentlemen, Spaced, Hornblower, Spooks and Man Child. [​IMG]
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The League of Gentlemen is one of my (and my wife’s) favorites. We were also big fans of The Royle Family among others.
     
  14. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  15. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Regarding the frequency of commercial breaks (and their length), it should be noted that long ago an "hourlong" program used to mean fifty minutes of programming along with ten minutes of messages (and anywhere from 28 to 32 episodes per season). Now it means 40 to 44 minutes of programming, with an entire act now removed for those additional commercials (for seasons that last from 22 to 26 new episodes per season).

    It's interesting to observe, now that so many classic programs are on DVD, how more "fleshed out" the stories were in the era of "real" hourlong programs. Original series Star Trek seems more "complete" than many Next Generation episodes due to the benefit of that additional act.

    So, as you kind of see by now, commercial broadcast network television in the U.S. is all about selling ads and drawing viewers to those ads than it is about quality programming. For quality, we turn to the Public Broadcasting System.
     
  17. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  18. Craig: Mclaren

    Craig: Mclaren Second Unit

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    Is there anyway that this trend of shorter shows can be stopped? I mean in ten years it could be a 35 minute show and 25 minutes of commercials! [​IMG] The X-Files seemed to run for about the 46/47 minute mark throughout most of the 90's. As did E.R. This shorter length seems to have crept in since 2000/2001. That 5 extra minutes could add a lot more story and character over the course of a season. Isn't there some sort of quality control department that can say minimum 46 minutes per show or something? Maybe the Networks need to re-structure how they do business? [​IMG]
     
  19. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  20. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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