I’ve got a bone to pick with American & I guess Canadian tv channels and tv series producers. Why the fuck is it that almost 98% of tv shows since 2010-2011 onwards all have such short seasons? I can understand if some of them have the shorter seasons of 10, 13 or 16 episodes per season but it seems like all of them are suddenly of that range. This trend means that there are way too many shows being produced – which is a good thing in terms of jobs and variety for the actors & crew alike but it also means that audiences don’t get enough time with their favourite shows and characters. 13 episodes are not enough for us to enjoy and it takes so much longer for the next season to come that you have to rewatch the previous season’s episodes just to reconnect with them again.
The best shows seem to still generate the interest and capture the public imagination. But not every show can be a Game Of Thrones which has only 10 episodes a season (granted that their episodes are slightly longer than usual and pack a punch) or a The Walking Dead (which had 6 & 13 episodes the first two seasons before settling on 16 for the last two). While these two and some other shows like them have done a bang up job of capturing the hearts & minds of their audiences and winning awards and ratings the other shows, good shows with good themes, fail to stick with you because they a) do not have enough time to flesh out the storylines in detail b) character development has to be a minimum or left to just the main 2-4 characters and even c) in science fiction stories, have stuff in them that do not really connect with audiences because there is no background story or enough time to make things stand out or explain as to what is the science, technology, reasoning, history behind a certain weapon, culture, decision making etc etc. Let me take a couple of shows as example since scifi shows are the ones which need the longer time to develop interest, especially shows with aliens & alien cultures, settings on other planets or on ships. Take Falling Skies & Defiance as the prime examples. Both are good shows with interesting storyline arcs and recurring themes but they are, in my opinion anyways, hindered by shorter seasons.
Falling Skies worked really well in the first 2 seasons when they focused on just humans vs the invading powerful Espheni (insectoid creatures) who have destroyed most of earth and are enslaving part of the surviving humans. When they added another alien race, the Volm who can talk and has a background history with the Espheni, and further technology it failed to connect with me as they don’t have enough episodes to flesh the plots out and give the aliens more time to develop. Some of the “deaths” seem hasty and some of the new technology seem rushed. They also had to jump several months in the timeline at the beginning of this season and that’s when I grew frustrated because the cohesion was lost. Adding to the fact that they had a rapidly growing alien/human “starchild’ (a la V) character added and a cult that suddenly grew around her just doesn’t sit well. You need time to develop these stories unless done really well and this show has failed in doing so. They had 3 10 episode seasons (or call it 12 as the season opener & finales are usually longer) and this season has 12. Their 5th season will be their last and will have 10 episodes.
Defiance is another good show but they have so many alien races and yet so few episodes to do justice to them all. They have managed to develop one of the races but the others seem so dull in comparison. Plus with a generation of the alien children having been born and raced on what is left on earth, they just seem human teenagers in makeup. Again less time to develop the races and feel connected to the characters; I just don’t care if any of the main characters die. No alien lands because everything is happening on earth (a much changed earth due to a terraforming situation but still earth) and no reason to try and learn the alien races reasons behind their way of life, choices or decisions and what makes them tick. I can’t remember a show in which there are 5 or more alien races and I only care or know anything about just one of them. It’s the 12 episodes in the first season to blame and this season we get 13. And don’t even get me started on Star-Crossed which was just a whole big mess but it was more a teenager show anyways and I didn’t connect with it anyways and it got cancelled after just a season.
I do hate the fact that all my favourite non-scifi shows are also either 10-13 episodes long but they don’t have this problem of explaining alien technology, races, planets or even advanced earth tech because they are set in the present (or in some cases the past) and they can focus on stories and plots and even have time for the characters in a shorter season. I’ll talk about my non-scifi shows in another post.