Since when are TV seasons so short?

It seems like only yesterday that shows like 30 Rock and The Office started their most recent season, and now they’re over! What the hell?!

I used to expect a good twenty episodes from a TV drama or comedy season, and it can’t be more than a few years since that was the standard. Then I started to see 12-episode seasons all over the place, and I was willing to live with that, but now it’s down to frickin’ 8 or 9 if you’re lucky!

Is this because of the surge in popularity of TV on DVD? I figure there’s motivation to keep the running time down, the same way musicians had to adapt to the new one-sided format and limited capacity of CDs as opposed to vinyl. And with TV shows often making the bulk of their money in the long term from DVD sales, it would make sense if they took that into account.

Or is it because the networks are cutting budgets left and right? Game shows and reality shows are considered to be so much more cost-effective (despite cries of protest from detractors like me who fucking hate game and reality shows) that a lot of networks are cutting scripted shows that they don’t consider to be profitable enough. Even worse, the shows that survive are kept on such a short leash, creatively and otherwise, that there’s no room to take any risks. The network execs are so nervous about upsetting or boring the “viewer” that they claim to understand so well (using retarded tools like Nielsen ratings, which are about as reliable and accurate as an E-meter) that they end up ruining shows by not letting them breathe. If the networks would take a chance and buy, say, 25 or 30 episode seasons, imagine what the shows could do with all that time! Lost could have resolved its crazy plot in one or two seasons, as opposed to making us wait for months between seasons (and even between halves of a single season!). A show like Twin Peaks would have time to gain a following and really dig into its complicated storyline without the alienating effect of a five or six month hiatus in between plot twists. 24okay, I guess they already have 24 episodes, as they must. Good for them for not settling.

Anyway, that’s my complaint for the day.

2 thoughts on “Since when are TV seasons so short?

  1. Two Words, Writer’s Strike. Most shows got delayed for months before airing (such was the case for LOST, which also had to shorten this season’s run of episodes). 24 was not so lucky, as it was delayed a full year (next season starts January of 09). Let’s pray the WGA stays happy for the next few years.

  2. You’re right, I should have discussed the strike. I did think about it and planned to make mention of it, but that’s what you get when you write after a few Miller High Lifes. Thanks for pointing it out!

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