Editor’s Chatroom: TV Shows, Better When They’re Short?
Julyssa: Hello everybody and welcome to another editor’s chatroom!
Julyssa: This week’s topic:
Amy: TV, how long they are!!!!!
I want to start off by confessing something~~~
Julyssa: Oh! A confession! Go right ahead~
Amy: I haven’t watched a single new American tv show in, at least, 6 months.
Julyssa: What happened to Glee?
Amy: I stopped watching around… episode 2 or 3 on Season 3, because it was just… so frustrating. Since then, I just haven’t had the passion to put in the hours to watch television anymore, even though I KNOW that TV is kicking some major Hollywood butt.
Julyssa: Well, I don’t know about kicking major butt seeing as I am not watching that much Western television. The only American shows I am following at the moment are Smash, GCB, How I Met your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory.
Amy: But all the women of Hollywood are turning to television for meaty roles!
Julyssa: Oki, but that is not the topic of this weeks chatroom. We are here to discuss series length, good or bad.
Amy: I know, it’s how long they are!
Julissa: Yeah, when it’s too long it gets frustrating. For example Glee or Gossip Girl, even Grey’s Anatomy.
Amy: To be honest here, I’ve become a very lazy lazy tv viewer… I just don’t have the passion to put int +20hrs of my life to watch…
Julyssa: Yeah, Asian television has made us lazy. I like my 20 episodes shows, and then it’s bye-bye. Japan has even less.
Amy: It’s not even Asian for me, it’s solely Japanese television. I know we always talk not-so favorably of Jpop, but I’m here to defend Japanese television.
Julyssa: Defend it away!
I think it depends on the show. Lost is my favorite TV show, but it drifted (lol) in seasons 2 and 3 before finally kicking back into gear toward the end of season 3 (imo). Season 4 was fun, season 5 was…an interesting experiment, while season 6 was the only really bad season.
Atsuhime! When I used to live in the Bay Area, I caught a few episodes of that. Really pretty costumes from an era of Japanese history I’m not used to seeing. I haven’t seen many others, but my fave J-drama so far was My Little Chef. I also really liked parts of Fuurin Kazan. There were some fierce lady characters, and while Gackt may not be the best actor, he really got the spirit of the Bishamonten character.
Most UK shows I know tend to run 6 episodes, and are up for next “series” renewal. There was actually a British complaint that criticized this format because, in this person’s opinion, it tended to produce just long movies instead of TV shows that focus on character rather than concept. I reblogged it on my tumblr: http://chrryblssmninja.tumblr.com/post/8143113072
There are 3-episode miniseries on UK TV too, like To the Ends of The Earth, also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the excellent series Black Mirror, and those tend to be of higher production quality than regular series. Doctor Who got 12 or 13 episodes because it is special and is now a major crossover hit. Minor in-UK hits like Being Human may get stretched to 8 episode series. There have been complaints that shows like Being Human, Skins and Misfits are indicative of a trend becoming more “American” in that they go for multiple series even through drastic cast changes.
This is also interesting to contrast with previous decades of American TV, in which procedural only started around the late ’50’s/early ’60’s and, along with comedies and variety shows, you had the dramatic anthology format of a totally new story each week. This format really died off over the decades. Maybe American audiences need the continuing characters of a procedural (not justt he same host, like The Crypt Keeper) in order to absorb these new stories.
@Diandra Rodriguez, Well~~~ there you go. Someone who likes longer better! He is talking from the point of view of someone who has the time to watch 60 episodes over the span of a couple of years, though. xD
I agree that is kinda awesome to get attached to characters… but do we really need the drama? Especially if we’re going to spend half the time complaining that this and that is/isn’t happening and should/shouldn’t be…
Oh, you should definitely get a hold of Atsuhime – I think rips of the SF subtitled broadcast should still be available… they were generally small in size compared to the 1Gb per episode they are doing now which makes it impossible to download +45 eps.
The thing I love about a super short format is that it lets you experiment a lot – I mean, only in Japan would you be able to get a 5-ep series that revolves on the idea of bags: search Juri Ueno and the Five Bags on the site ;) And that series came about after the 12-ep (divided in 4 chapters) series that revolved on the idea of lies in Yu Aoi x 4 Lies, aka. Camouflage.
@amy, I’ll look up Juri Ueno and the Five Bags!
oh and I don’t really watch them, but given discussions of changing casts, mention must be made of soap operas/telenovelas/teleseryes (Philippines).
@Diandra Rodriguez, about telenovelas… coming from a Latin American background – I haven’t seen any worthy ones for the past several few years. Though, local production has a really horrible HORRIBLE show that’s on its 600th episode… then again, telenovelas hardly care about consistency, non?
American soaps are known for bringing characters from the dead with the same actors playing their evil hidden siblings, right? LOL Or is that just comedians making fun of it?
My last memory of a telenovela was Luz Maria – late 90s – and it was a decent period piece at that time, but due to really high ratings, the production apparently got extended and it became ridiculous. LOL Let’s say there was memory loss involved, and the heroine had to win back the man of her dreams once again…
Then again, telenovelas do follow another standard, and I think it’s more to do with who the bad guy is going to be… and Luz Maria really did have great bad women. LOL
Well… lately I’ve only been watching my series online or with friends so I guess the TV is not part of my ritual anymore except for watching detective-like dramas like Law and Order (any of them), CSI (again, any of them), Criminal Minds or Bones. But it is mostly because those things (finding mysteries) entertain me more than the characters and their personal dramas themselves (except Bones)… so since I just want them to entertainme I like that they seem to go on forever.
Then I watch my comedies online because I hate being two-three weeks behind. So I watch The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother online. I also watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones online but while I was interested in both I wasn’t a regular watcher until their first seasons ended and I could watch all their episodes in one go.
About the BBC series… I watch them online by myself and then I watch them with friends so we can all fangirl (or rather fanboy since I am one of two girls who are in the group) together. This happened with Sherlock and Doctor Who and is also happening with the American series Once Upon a Time.
Finally I just also want to agree with Julyssa about the flawlessness of Sherlock. Yes.
@Mirella Snape, and I thought only parents watched criminal shows. LOL I recently took some time on Monday and caught up with an episode of the latest season of CSI with Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue – it was actually pretty good. I think it was a funnier CSI epi than usual… no idea if that comes from the writers team or the acting, though.
I stopped watching Bones because I can only catch it on the Spanish dub broadcast, and I can’t take Bones speaking like Cordelia Chase. There’s just something VERY unnatural about that.
@amy, My brother loves watching those kind of shows. It’s easier for him to watch CSI compared to something that dedicates constant watching.
As for Ted Danson, he’s pretty good in the comedy field. I don’t watch CSI or most crime tv shows, but I assume he injects some humor to the series. I wished Bored To Death was popular among HBO shows because Danson could have been Emmy-worthy.
I’m a huge fan of Korean and the occasional Japanese drama. I like the concept of the one-off seasons. You’ve touched upon series that I have watched and stopped because of length and decline in story: Heroes, GLEE, Dexter, etc.
True Blood is crack though. I’ll never stop that.
I do find myself revisiting shows that I’ve stopped watching, online via Netflix or Amazon Prime, just to see development. I’m not nearly as invested in it as I was before, but it’s taken on the role of a kind of white noise while I do things. :( I pay attention, I swear.
Loved this article!
@Cheryl, I’ve never ventured into True Blood territory because it just feels like too much smut from what I see on the commercials. LOL
I don’t get Netflix (not the same content as the American version, at least) or Amazon Prime T_T so I’m generally stuck with TV. I thought Netflix was doing alright, but I just heard they reported loses…
What are you watching this 2012? Or what were your favorites in 2011?
@amy, I have fallen in nerdy love with New Girl. It’s the only show on Western TV that I really wish I had cable for (and I miss live sports), but it is on Hulu. I also watch Cougar Town on Hulu as well. I gravitate towards sitcoms on Western TV, that’s for sure. Other than those, it’s mainly Korean dramas: currently Rooftop Prince & Feast of the Gods.
I imagine if I did have cable, I’d be into Amazing Race, Survivor and the crime shows like CSI, Bones, etc. You guys touched upon the crime shows and how they can stand alone as well. That’s actually how I got into Bones, by watch a syndicated episode.
Last year I was in love with Misfits, but I was moving around a lot and didn’t get to catch up with this last season. I do enjoy the British shows, too. I’m actually putting off Sherlock until I have a need for a good TV night. I like to keep shows like that in a queue.
I like the topic, but it seems one-sided since both of you are almost similar in what to watch and the formats you like. You girls didn’t even mentioned the telenovelas format, which is larger and a “must-watch” dedication considering how they roll.
I do watch more than one show at the time. Currently I keep track on Mad Men (great Season 5 start so far), GOT (still great), Big C (jumped the shark two episodes into S3), Veep (pretty good pilot), Glee (fuck this show), Suburgatory (I like the supporting characters) and TBBT (all about the women).
But once the network season ends, it’s all about BBC/Showtime’s Episodes because I can’t stand True Blood and I haven’t got into Weeds yet (despite being aware of how it goes).
And when the summer is over, it’s time for Boardwalk Empire, Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Homeland as well as some network tv shows returning and new ones showing up.
I haven’t watched a Kdrama or Japanese show, but I’m still finding the right time to give DH1 (and DH2) a shot. But I have seen some of the South American shows HBO-LA produced. I remember enjoying Mandrake, the first season of Capadocia and kinda love/hate Alice. Last year’s Mulher da Fases wasn’t that good and Chile’s Prófugos looked visually good but kinda tedious to follow. I might give Brazil’s Preamar a shot next month.
I might ask Julyssa the following: the 4 American shows you mentioned are from tv networks and the seasons are very lengthy.So what keeps you from giving a shot to cable shows from FX, AMC, HBO or Showtime? In no way I’m saying all network shows suck since I like some of them. But cable shows are mostly short seasons.
@Rodrigo, I talked a little bit about Telenovelas when Diandra asked above… but it didn’t seem to come up during the chat since neither Julyssa or I are watching any.
About Latin American shows… they mostly follow the American format – Epitafios wasn’t bad, but I think it was only two seasons, right?
I have a question for you since you watch so much tv, do you ever feel that you should be doing something else? Why watch Glee if it makes you so mad at times, instead of… I dunno, watching something else or go out for a coffee? LOL
@amy, Yeah, I read that. But it would have been interesting to see it being mentioned during the chat.
With Latin American shows, they can be either 1 or 2 seasons. You never know because it’s harder to get a second season because of money and the availability of the actors, who have to work on more stuff to make a good living.
When I saw Alice, it was only 1 season. Two years later, HBO produced two extra episodes, which the first was rather dull and the second pretty good – yet still unnecessary.
As for the tv viewing… if I get bored or pissed, I tune off and then play something or watch a movie. The Glee thing is mostly a “wanna see how it ends”.
Just remembered that Canadian shows, or at least the ones I hear about. tend to have shorter episode runs. One of my favorite shows is Slings and Arrows, which had 3 seasons of 6 episodes each. I only caught a little of Little Mosque on the Prairie, but that was 6 episodes each season too. DaVinci’s Inquest (some sort of procedural, I’ve seen very very little of it) is syndicated in the United States, but I don’t know how many episodes it is per season. My friends keep on telling me to watch that mountie show with Paul Gross and Callum Rennie argh I forget the name…Due South!
@Diandra Rodriguez, OMG. Canadian TV… I only saw one season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, but I don’t remember it being that short. I’m pretty certain that the first season was around 20 episodes… that’s why I stopped watching. Even though I laughed quite a bit, I didn’t feel it was… enough.
I also saw a couple of episodes of… Robson Arms and, another few episodes of Corner Gas – Canadian humor is… particular. There was another one called J-pod? Sometimes I ran into CBC French Canadian shows on TV5, but the only one I’ve bothered to look up and actually watch was Catherine with Sylvie Moreau because that was just hilarious and almost perfect to practice French, since the TV5 broadcast came with French subs ;P
But almost all of them followed the regular American format, except for J-pod, if I recall correctly…
@amy, ah, I think that’s why I never really continued with Little Mosque…it would have been nice to catch on TV, but while I did like the characters and laughed at some parts, it wasn’t enough for me to keep watching online. I tend to drop series really fast nowadays, though.
haha Canadian humor! I think The Red Green Show was Canadian. It was on PBS and sometimes funny but also odd. I’ve read the source novel of J-pod and, while the book’s fine, it didn’t make me want to seek out the TV version, although several of my friends recommend it.
Ah, thanks for the clarification.
sorry for rambling so much here but I just remembered another factor: American shows want to hit 100 episodes because that means syndication rights can be sold to lower-tier channels and other buyers. That’s big money. For UK and Canadian shows, it used to be that only PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and random other buyers in the USA would sometimes pick up their shows. BBC America now takes up a lot of the BBC programming, although sometimes Doctor Who would be a series behind for some PBS stations. In the past decade, there seems to be a lot more import/export going on, with Sundance picking up shows like Slings and Arrows from Canada, IFC buying the outstanding 5-episode Brit zombie thriller Dead Set (which had a unique 30-minute ~drama~ format, when usually dramas are longer), Fearnet airing the dark comedy Psychoville, and Adult Swim showing . There’s also Hulu, which picks up random shows like a bunch of K-dramas, the 15-minute fictional dance battle series The LXD (it’s crack but on its 2nd or 3rd season?) and the UK series Misfits, which is too risque for anything but pay cable. Oh, that reminds me, that HBO aired the fantastic Australian comedy Summer Heights High.
anyways, export value of various series lengths is a factor. What channels can fit a series of x number episodes? Downton Abbey’s series 1 was a big hit in the UK and on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater, and the second series, extended from 6 to 8 episodes with a Christmas special, is an even bigger hit than Sherlock for US public television. Telenovelas/soap operas/teleseryes are often dubbed and sold to other countries who currently have some sort of telenovela format. I guess my rambling point is that series are adjusting to higher export markets, sometimes by shifting format/series length.
@Diandra Rodriguez, whoops I forgot to finish the sentence: Adult Swim showing The Mighty Boosh and sometimes Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
wow I talk a lot about TV
@Diandra Rodriguez, well there’s been a definite increase on broadcast of Kdrama down here. The downside is that the local broadcast (besides being dubbed instead of subbed) decides to cut one single 50min episode into two or three episodes to make the series last down here…
But yeah, I agree – American TV format is made to make money and syndication is gold. I don’t think they have to strike the 100 episode mark any longer, though, haven’t they celebrated syndication deals for Modern Family and Glee already?
@amy, I haven’t heard about the syndication deals for Modern Family or Glee, but I wouldn’t be surprised – they’re big shows in their 3rd or 4th season, and there might be enough demand to speed up the syndication process. Although I wonder if more shows will start making deals like Sky in the UK has with HBO – airing Game of Thrones on the same day, if I hear correctly. It marks a change from delayed broadcast -for example, there are people in the USA who tried to go the legal route and watch Doctor Who on BBC America, but even those who could deal with often a one-week delay from the UK broadcast didn’t like the random cuts for time and repetitive episode introduction that has to reintroduce the concept of the show for American viewers. Masterpiece’s airings of Sherlock and Downton Abbey also make really random cuts and shifts for time in already delayed broadcasts. Downton Abbey in particular is a relevant example, because the seven 45-ish minute episodes of series one were trimmed (with some scenes dropped or rearranged) into four 1.5 hour-ish episodes for Masterpiece in the USA. They still get big audiences, but I wonder how much (if any) of their audience is cut by people frustrated enough by these changes that they just go online to stream or download.
@amy, I think it’s at 4 seasons with 88 or a bit more. Big Bang Theory got their syndication deal faster than most series on syndication, but at the time it did had the guarantee of lasting 7 seasons.
In a world where 1 milisecond of loading time in a website is too much, less waiting for better content in less time is definitely better.
@ghost, You know I only like you when you agree with what I say :P But nicely put!