What Happened To TV Series?

Huntn

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Over a period of 60 years the number of episodes in a season of the average TV show ranged from 20-39 episodes per season. For a while in recent history, (Game of Thrones and many others) episodes dropped to 10 per season and now I’m seeing series dropped to 8 (Hanna) or even less.

If there are 8 episodes x 50 minutes, we end up with a glorified long movie or a movie and a sequel. 😳 Blah! Now I am grateful that The Expanse is holding at 10 episodes.

.
 
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Tommo66

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Agree, but here in the UK the number of episodes in a season has always been around 8.
 

compwiz1202

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And even worse is you get those 12 over maybe three months and then wait like TWO years for more if it doesn't get canceled.
 

Huntn

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Hate to break it to you, but season 4 is only 10 episodes.

Currently watching The Last Post on Amazon and the first season is only 6 episodes.
I saw something that said 13 episodes for something! :p I’ll have to look around. But you’ve verified what a I’m saying, 6 episodes? Not happy about it and it dies not work for broadcast TV, if I was watching broadcast TV.😳
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Quality over quantity. I can just imagine how different a show like "Lost" would've been had it been released on a streaming service and with only around 10-12 episodes per season instead of 22. The larger number of episodes results in a lot more filler, I think.
...but I loved Lost. :)
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And even worse is you get those 12 over maybe three months and then wait like TWO years for more if it doesn't get canceled.
The good thing is that with a 10 episode season, if it is being released weekly, I can wait a bit and watch the entire season in one month.
 

vertical smile

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Quality over quantity.
Over a period of 60 years the number of episodes in a season of the average TV show ranged from 20-39 episodes per season.
I think it is less of a quality issues, and more of a serial vs procedural situation.

Most shows that have many episodes per season are more of procedural in nature, while many shows that have less episodes per season typically are serial. This isn't a rule, but more of a guideline, and there could be shows that break this, of course.


For a while in recent history, (Game of Thrones and many others) episodes dropped to 10 per season and now I’m seeing series dropped to 8 (Hanna) or even less.
Both GoT and Hanna are more of a serial show, where there is a main story arc over many episodes, seasons, or sometimes the whole show.

Procedural shows typically have each episode kind of story arc (The Twilight Zone, Friends, Law and Order, Scrubs), but sometimes there is a slight serial element where there is a main story arc across a half or whole season that each episode dedicates a small portion of time to, but there is usually a "monster of the week" that majority of the episode is about (Arrow, Supernatural, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fringe, Alias).


Blah! Now I am grateful that The Expanse is holding at 13 episodes.
This is more of a serial show.

If there are 8 episodes x 50 minutes, we end up with a glorified long movie or a movie and a sequel.
Typically serials are shorter, or have breaks within a season, because it is like a big, long movie, and sometimes (especially before binge watching) it is really hard to remember earlier episodes, characters, events...

One serial that had very long season, and really easy to forget the beginning of the season by the time you got to the end was the show 24.

Forgetting an episode of a procedural show typically wouldn't have as much of an impact as a serial because each episode has its own story arc that typically doesn't impact the main story arc, if there is one.

Quality over quantity.
Now back to this, I originally said that it wasn't really about quality, but I am going to contradict myself a little.

I think that typically serial style shows tend to be better quality shows. I think they take more effort and time to write, direct, and produce serial show. Not to mention $$$.

I also think that the quality of TV shows are increasing and the amount of serial style shows are increasing.

While procedural shows may have been king over the past 60 years, I think this is changing, and TV is now being taken more seriously.

That is also why multi-camera and/or live audience shows/laugh tracks, something that used to be the norm, is now rare. This type of TV is poor quality, imo. I am glad to see more single camera shows being made.
 
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Thomas Veil

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Over a period of 60 years the number of episodes in a season of the average TV show ranged from 20-39 episodes per season. For a while in recent history, (Game of Thrones and many others) episodes dropped to 10 per season and now I’m seeing series dropped to 8 (Hanna) or even less.

If there are 8 episodes x 50 minutes, we end up with a glorified long movie or a movie and a sequel. 😳 Blah! Now I am grateful that The Expanse is holding at 13 episodes.

.
I know what you mean. I must be about the same age as you, because I can remember when a TV season was something like 36 episodes.

It kept shrinking until it seemed to hold at 22 for a while...enough to run each episode twice, plus pre-empt them a few times for specials. Even a marginal show got an order of 13 episodes.

Nowadays, to paraphrase Dorothy, TV series come and go so quickly! Even my favorite, Gotham, got its final season reduced from 22 to 12 episodes. This was not a good thing, as they had to jettison entire plot lines to hurry things up. A whole half season storyline involving the bizarre villain Ventriloquist was reduced to a portion of one episode. And while the series finale was great, it was really rushed. You could easily have spread that story into two episodes and made the series go out with an even better finish.

Something similar happened to Babylon 5. Conceived from the get-go as a five year saga, each season the producer never knew whether it was going to be renewed until the very last minute. In the middle of season four he'd heard no word, concluded that that was that, and rushed the entire end of season four, plus season 5, into the last dozen season 4 episodes, so that the story would at least reach its conclusion. Then, of course, the show got renewed. The final, fifth season wasn't bad, but some of it came off looking like what it was: filler.

Anyway, to return to the topic of short orders...yeah, it's a trade-off. TV today is better, and shows have real story arcs that allow them to develop characters and ideas. Still, I have a feeling that some day kids used to 10-episode "seasons" of Netflix shows are going to look back with envy at those older series that had 24 episodes or more, showed up regularly in the fall, and went on for years. It's just not the same nowadays.
 
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Bubble99

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Over a period of 60 years the number of episodes in a season of the average TV show ranged from 20-39 episodes per season. For a while in recent history, (Game of Thrones and many others) episodes dropped to 10 per season and now I’m seeing series dropped to 8 (Hanna) or even less.

If there are 8 episodes x 50 minutes, we end up with a glorified long movie or a movie and a sequel. 😳 Blah! Now I am grateful that The Expanse is holding at 10 episodes.

.
Because back than there was very little TV shows to choose from. So they has to add in as many episodes to keep the networks busy.


Now days there more TV shows being made in the year than you could watch. There are too many TV shows these days. But with 8 to 12 episodes than 25 or more episodes it makes dirt cheap.


There is no incentives to fill the air time on the networks these days. With streaming it killed the incentives to fill the air time.
 
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HDFan

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Star power.
Storytelling can be more dramatic and focused
The syndication model has changed.
Year-round programming.
Shorter seasons help to prevent fatigue.


And there are also fewer seasons.

"At the root of TV’s shortening shelf life is the rise of subscription video-on-demand and the programming arms race it has sparked. SVOD created new revenue streams for studios to monetize shows after their initial runs. It also changed the way viewers watch, drawing them away from linear telecasts, making delayed and digital viewing the norm. And it increased competition, adding more platforms and more original programs to the mix."

 
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MacNut

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Series start with 7-12 episodes, if the show does well it gets a full season order of 22-25 episodes.
 

theluggage

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I think the move is a combination of:

1. Long-form storytelling: 22+ episodes is a bit too long for a single story (but then I'm in the UK so I'm used to shorter series*)
2. More expensive, near-feature-film productions
3. In some cases, longer episodes for commercial-free cable/streaming
4. On streaming, releasing the whole season in one go (which means that you have to make the whole season on spec - no mid-season pickup decision)



I know what you mean. I must be about the same age as you, because I can remember when a TV season was something like 36 episodes.
...and do you also remember how, mid-season they'd sometimes run out of money and have to find some plot device to do a "clip show" made mainly from flashbacks to previous episodes?

Even the more recent Battlestar Galactica remake resorted to a "flashback" show once (the boxing one - although that was at least unused footage from previous episodes) and seasons often considered of 3-4 good episodes resolving the previous season's cliffhanger, a dozen episodes of padding then 3-4 episodes setting up the next cliffhanger.

Then there's the shows that got cancelled mid-season (*sob* Firefly *sob*)

Something similar happened to Babylon 5.
...which was very influential in the way it made long-form stories and character development fashionable after years of the infamous Star Trek Plot Reset Button. So its sort of to blame.

* The example I like - Life on Mars (UK original) - massive critical success, one of the jewels in the BBC's crown, concluded after 2 successful seasons, 16 episodes totsl. Life on Mars (US version) - flop, cancelled and hastily concluded mid-season: 18 episodes total.

If some is good, more isn't always better...

(although the UK version did have a spin off that ran for an eye-watering, er, 24 episodes)

Of course, when a UK show runs for a long time it runs for a loooooong time (Dr Who) plus all the UK soaps that run to 2-3 episodes a week, 52 weeks a year... for decades...
 

compwiz1202

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We don't even like to get into TV Shows anymore because nearly everything we like barely lasts a season, if it doesn't get canceled before one season freaking ends. Masked Singer is the first shows in a while we like that is actually more than one season.
 

Bubble99

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We don't even like to get into TV Shows anymore because nearly everything we like barely lasts a season, if it doesn't get canceled before one season freaking ends. Masked Singer is the first shows in a while we like that is actually more than one season.
You can thank streaming for that.

When people moved from cable to streaming started some where 2008 or 2009 TV shows got cancelled and shorter season and shorter episodes.

And scfi TV shows got it the hardest well cop shows and drama not so hard.

I don't know any scfi TV shows that have 20 episodes or more made in past 10 years.
 
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Huntn

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You can thank streaming for that.

When people moved from cable to streaming started some where 2008 or 2009 TV shows got cancelled and shorter season and shorter episodes.

And scfi TV shows got it the hardest well cop shows and drama not so hard.

I don't know any scfi TV shows that have 20 episodes or more made in past 10 years.
The Expanse (2015-)
 

compwiz1202

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You can thank streaming for that.

When people moved from cable to streaming started some where 2008 or 2009 TV shows got cancelled and shorter season and shorter episodes.

And scfi TV shows got it the hardest well cop shows and drama not so hard.

I don't know any scfi TV shows that have 20 episodes or more made in past 10 years.
Exactly. We love fantasy/sci-fi but they get cut so quick usually, but there are a million cop/court/doctor ones that only my wife likes some of. Orville is one of the few that lasted that we both liked, but they pulled the BS move into Hulu from FOX.