Friday, May 12, 2006

Don't Blame Your Favorite Shows for Repeats

I have a number of friends who scowl about Lost and ER and Law & Order: SVU and other favorite shows always being in repeats. It's also something you see quite a bit online. As if the network is pacing back and forth, like customers outside a Krispy Kreme, waiting for the new episode to be delivered and the "Hot Now" sign to light up.

Folks, you're blaming the wrong people. Blame the network and the calendar.

The producers of
Lost, for example, aren't lazy. In fact, they work really hard. Insanely hard, I'll bet, judging by what's on the screen.

They make as many episodes as the producers of
24. (24, to be specific.) The difference is, 24 runs without repeats because it starts running in January. Lost starts airing in September... but both end in May.

Same number of episodes, four month difference in when they start. Result: repeats.

So pick your poison: Wait until January and get no repeats, or start in September and get big gaps between episodes.

And if you're wondering why the network can't space them out more evenly, it's because they have to have bunches of new episodes during sweeps periods... so that leaves those big gaps in between.

6 comments:

Russell Arch said...

Personally, I'd wait until January for "no repeat" LOST. Do you notice that people only get angry when compelling shows to the "repeat thing"?

If I was a LOST producer, I'd be flattered that people are angry about seeing repeats. That means that the product is in HIGH DEMAND. An enviable position in today's "throw away" TV market.

gina said...

I think part of the frustration stems from the fact that a show like LOST, which features a complex and ongoing central mystery and almost always ends with a cliffhanger, really suffers from long breaks between new episodes. It should have the same schedule as 24, imo.

It does look like ABC is willing to meet me halfway, though:

Lost fans will find fewer repeats interrupting its intricate mystery: Original episodes will be clustered in longer chunks after an October start.

Yay!

Michael Markowitz said...

Russ, that's very true about human nature. I notice that the shows I DON'T get to see, the ones that are OPPOSITE my favorites, NEVER seem to repeat. It's a conspiracy.

As for whether I'd be flattered, I would, unless people were blaming ME for something I had no control over.

And Gina, I agree. 24 is a pleasure to watch because of the week-in, week-out nature. That's good news about next year.

I got into Buffy very late in the game. It was already in Season Four by the time I joined in. So I watched the first three seasons on DVD in big gulps. All I could think was "You mean people had to wait YEARS to watch these episodes????"

I always think the mark of a well-written (serialized) show is that you can watch it as a really long movie and still enjoy it. It's what makes shows like 24 and Lost and Buffy so great. (Other shows, like Law & Order and ER are great as well, but not meant to be consumed that way.)

gina said...

Alias is also tailor-made for DVD -style consumption. I got into it the summer after the second season finished. I watched season 1 over a weekend and season 2 over 2 weekends and I could not *imagine* what it would have been like to have to wait for the new episodes. I found out soon enough, lol.

Michael Markowitz said...

Watching Alias one week at a time was torture. Same with 24. I am jealous of people who watched them all in one gulp.

I watched season one of The O.C. in one sitting. It was fascinating.

And here's one for you: I missed the entire run of Melrose Place! When E! started running it years ago, I TiVo'd the whole thing (thank you weaknees.com!) and watched it from the beginning in huge marathons. It only took a month for me to watch the whole series. It was a total wallow and I loved it. I can't imagine what it would have been like to wait!

(But when you watch Melrose Place in big chunks you REALLY notice the shots they use again and again!)

Sean Tisdall said...

And me, I just want them to move the NHL season up a month or 2 so that I don't have to debate between going to the beach or watching the Stanley Cup. Have the PRE-season in summer and the playoffs at the end of winter.

But, yeah. Shows less episodic in format should be shown in order with fewer repeats... I was kinda on topic there right? And I definitely agree with the watching of seasons and series in one loop. Better for the narrative if there is one. And usually, if the show is more complex than Monkeyed Movies, there is.