Why these short seasons?!

LanceJ

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I was watching The Venture Brothers last Sunday and right before the show started, they said this would mark the end of the season.

What the hell??!!

They couldn't have aired more than, say, six episodes!

This is the same crap that the Sci-Fi Channel has been pulling with their big shows, like Battlestar Galactica and Dr. Who. I do not like this choice of scheduling at all. Right when I am getting into the stories & characters, they end the "season".

Does anyone know the rationale behind this very irritating habit?

I have been getting closer to canceling my cable service for other reasons and this screwed-up scheduling crap is making that decision even easier (the History Channel, TCM and some shows on SpikeTV and Comedy Central are the only other channels I regularly watch).

I actually didn't even finish the Venture Brothers episode because I feel like I am being manipulated in some way. Maybe that sounds childish but so be it. After doing so, I decided I would just wait & buy the COMPLETE SEASON in boxset form - which I had planned on long ago - instead of dealing with this crap. Then I relaized that might be their plan i.e. buy the boxset instead of watching it on TV. Any thoughts on that?
 

Jason_V

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Outside of the broadcast networks, nobody really airs 20+ episode seasons anymore. Dr. Who is a 13 episode season since it is made in England. BSG WILL be a 20 episode season this year.

The general thinking, I believe, is that with a shorter season, it is easier for the creators and producers to give more attention to each episode and to construct tighter story arcs. Long seasons make the story drag out a bit more, thus having the potential to lose viewers.

As for TVB, the wiki says the season started on Juune 25, 2006. If it indeed ended this past Sunday and had no repeats, there would have been 18 episodes in the season. I'm not a viewer, so I don't know if they put repeats in there at all.
 

Jason Seaver

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Well, first, Venture Brothers is animation, which is almost always a short run - it's just too time consuming to produce a longer one.

Second, you're dealing with cable, and the attendant smaller budgets. Money spent on giving one show a "full" season has to come out of something else.

And, third, maybe they only had enough good ideas for six episodes or so. Just because American broadcast networks have settled on a 22-episode standard doesn't mean that's always best. Indeed, I think there's an argument that that strangles creativity - we, as an audience, might get better and more diverse offerings if someone gets to work on two 13-episode projects a year, and the lesser commitment might attract feature film perfomers who don't want to commit to a single project for eight months.

For instance, you mention Doctor Who. I'm sure Sci-Fi would like to air 22 episodes a year, but they're only going to get 13, since that's all the BBC is making, since that's what works for them. Maybe they wouldn't have been able to get Eccleston or Tennant for a longer season, maybe the writers feared the series becoming flabby and dull like the last couple years of Buffy (to pick an egregious example of a 22-episode season with terrible pacing and a lot of filler), maybe the Beeb just doesn't like any one series commanding the kind of budget that would have involved. Who knows? But it's not a decision that was made randomly or capriciously.

As to the idea that "that might be their plan i.e. buy the boxset instead of watching it on TV", that's silly- the producers want you doing both, so they get the two revenue streams.
 

Greg_S_H

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I've never heard of the Venture Brothers, but epguides.com lists 13 episodes aired this season, which is the same number aired last season.
 

LanceJ

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Thanks for the info everyone.


The creativity issue sounds like a pretty good reason - I guess since I grew up with 20+ show seasons I'll have to get used to that. Same with the BBC. A few GOOD stories is better than a lot of junk.

And yes, The Venture Brothers had RERUNS of the new shows in the middle of the new season. That was really confusing! And I didn't count the episodes and I did miss a 2-3 shows but it still felt like an extremely short season compared to last season.

For me there are so few shows on TV/cable that I like nowadays, I tend to get sort of paranoid about the ones that ARE good enough to watch.


BTW: if you used to read & enjoy The Hardy Boys books, Robert Heinlein's golden age sci-fi stories* or similar works & like quirky humor, you need to check out The Venture Brothers! It's an awesome show, one of the few shows left on Adult Swim I can honestly describe that way.


* one of my favorites
 

JediFonger

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do you guys remember when shows like the X-Files pumped out upwards TWENTY-SIX eps a year AND is longer in episode length (44-45min instead of 42) and thus, less commercials? in another words, not only is the show a classic, you're getting MORE qty AND quality at the same time =D. or what about sitcoms like 3rd rock from the with THIRTY-SOMN episodes a YEAR!!!! i know it's 1/2 hour but that's a helluva lot of eps a year.

aaanyway. i believe the shorter seasons were started by HBO. their miniseries-type format from earth to the moon was applied to sopranos as a 13 ep and then six feet under with 12-13 ep. the thing is... it's 10-12 hours of high quality content.
 

Jeff Jacobson

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Unless things have changed in England recently, that's a pretty long season. (E.g., each season of Red Dwarf was 6-8 episodes.)
 

David Williams

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I was about to say the same thing.


I'm not in the least bit bothered by shorter seasons... it just means there will be something else to watch. I think it's very smart of network television to start thinking in three seasons (fall, summer, winter) as the division between cable and network continues to erode. This last summer was the first time I felt like the networks produced a full schedule, Fox & NBC especially.

Good or Bad, There are no more fallow periods.
 

Qui-Gon John

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Also you mentioned BSG. If you're feeling it short, then you must be thinking of the 10 episodes, then a hiatus, then the last 10 episodes. But technically, that is all one season of 20 episodes.
 

Wendy_L

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And "Coupling" was the same. Only 6-8 episodes per season. You could fit all 4 seasons of "Coupling" into one season of an American prime time sitcom. So, we should actually consider ourselves lucky.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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Of course, with UK comedies in particular, all episodes of a show tend to be written by one or two people - Coupling by Steven Moffatt, Red Dwarf (initially) by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, The Office by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant - so they have to have limited episode runs simply because there's a practical limit to what one person can write.

Certainly the typical episode run on the BBC for a drama series varies between 6 and 13 episodes - Hustle is 6, Life on Mars is 8, Spooks (aka MI5) is 10, Doctor Who is 13.
 

LanceJ

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Bingo!

What's the hiatus for?

Also, didn't know European TV was different in that way i.e. season length. FYI: back in the early 80s, I used to watch Benny Hill religiously here on Channel 39 (an independent UHF station - remember those?) and his show was on five days a week for years!
 

Marty M

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A lot of British TV series are only six episode seasons. I know that Cold Feet was only six episodes and also MI-5, as well as Life on Mars. The Canadian series Slings and Arrows has been aired on Sundance Channel as two 6 episode seasons.
 

seanOhara

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I don't see a problem with short seasons as long as the material's good. I prefer quality to quantity. I'd rather have 13 episodes of Deadwood or Battlestar Galactica that tell a tight story, than 22 episodes of Lost with lots of meandering subplots that drag the story out.
 

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