There is no TV "Season"
Thursday, December 29, 2005
By Chris Knight, National Post, December 29th, 2005:
Recent TV shows do a brisk trade on DVD: When the first season of Lost was released in September, it quickly became a top seller. The following month Apple announced that episodes of the cultic series would be among the first content available for download to its new iPod.
Why shell out $60 for a season or $2 an episode for something that was just on TV a few months ago? How about a little thing called dependability? When Lost premiered last year with its nail-bitingly tense pilot (an apt term given the opening plane crash), it was the first of nine weekly episodes without a break. But look what the network did next, just as the fan base was growing and blogs were beginning to buzz with rumours: one week off; two weeks on; three weeks off; three weeks on; two weeks off; four weeks on; and so on. On any given Wednesday, you had a slightly better than 50% chance of encountering a new episode. (The fact that most opened with a four- or five-minute recap is another matter entirely.)
The situation has only grown worse. Lost season two opened in September with just five consecutive episodes before taking a 2-week coffee break.
Then it was back for four more and just starting to gather momentum when, as though some union threshold had been breached, the season stalled at the end of November. It's due back on Jan. 11. ABC's teasers spoke of "the episode you'll be talking about" and "the one you won't want to miss," but the real reason not to miss a new episode is that it might be the last one you'll see for a very long time.
Of course, the phenomenon is not limited to the castaway drama, and weekly television has always been a stop-and-go affair, driven by the all-important sweeps months and interrupted by news events, Olympic games, papal deaths, sports in overtime, what have you. What's changed is the nature of episodic television, in which every series has a story arc, and cliffhanger endings are de rigueur. No one had to wonder at the end of I Love Lucy whether she would manage to keep all those candies from falling off the end of the conveyor belt. (However, for the record, the first season ran for 35 weeks, October of 1951 to June of '52, without a break.) Read More...
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Posted byNick at 10:08 AM