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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what’s with all the “mid-season finales”?

Workin’ at home this morning, and as I often do, I’ve got the Sci Fi Channel on in the background (Stargate SG-1 all day — woo-hoo!). And they just aired a commerical for a show I don’t even watch — Ghost Hunters — promoting its “mid-season finale.” And it just occurred to me to be annoyed by this. Who came up with the idea that it would be cool to split an already shortened TV season into two batches: “Hey, we’ll give ’em 10 episodes now, and 10 next January?”

Because whoever’s idea it was is an idiot.

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  • Jurgan

    Avatar: The Last Airbender had a mid-season finale at the end of November. We’re still waiting for the latter half of the season. This is after a nine month between season hiatus. What is going on at Nickelodeon? This is a cash cow, people.

  • Niku

    South Park’s been doing it for years. It doesn’t make it any better.

  • David C

    I think more than anything it points to the idea of “seasons” as an outdated relic of the dinosaur business model (essentially unchanged in 50 years) that is the broadcast television network.

    TV shows have always been “split,” usually with the months of December and January being devoted to reruns or special seasonal programming. Seems like the main difference now is that they’re acknowledging it publicly – “We’ll be back for new episodes starting on Thermidor 21” as opposed to “Tune in every Thursday at 9, might be a new episode, might be a rerun, might be a Paul Lynde Halloween Special, you just can’t tell!”

  • bitchen frizzy

    —“TV shows have always been “split,” usually with the months of December and January being devoted to reruns or special seasonal programming.”

    Not always.

    Now I feel old.

    “Seasons” are a relic, yes, but IMO this new model of parsing out shows in blocks of episodes scattered through the year isn’t an improvement. I don’t know what that’s supposed to accomplish. Apparently, the networks actually believe they can create and sustain the illusion of a full season of episodes while only paying to produce half a season.

  • aviv

    You’d think networks would be more concerned than they seem to be about the potentially negative effects of having weeks or months between episodes within the same season. I mean, while the die-hard fans are sure to tune in regardless of the wait, surely these huge gaps in the narrative put interest of the so-so fans – the ones who watch a show but don’t flip out when they forget to tape it one week – at risk.

    While I don’t really care if a show’s 22-episode season runs from fall to spring (with the usual week or two off for reruns every few months) or from spring to fall, or whatever, I do get pissed off when I have to wait months to find out what happens next within a given season.

    Which I guess might explain why TV on DVD has become so popular with so many people: no commercials, no network bigwigs messing around with the airtimes, and no mid-season finales (the only problem is when they try to rip buyers off by selling one season in two parts – BSG 2.0 and 2.5 anyone?).

  • David C

    There’s at least one example (*24*) where they’ve made a point of not having any gaps between episodes, to the point that they delayed the entire season as a result of the writer’s strike.

  • Making a 22-episode season is hard work and doesn’t allow the crew any chance to do anything else. (We don’t need to talk about Enterprise’s 26-episode seasons, except to say that the strain showed.)

    In the UK, the BBC has tended to make runs of about six to ten episodes at a time (technically this is one “series”, though it often gets called a “season” in the USA). Something like old-style Doctor Who is a comparative rarity.

    Actually I think that short seasons are a relatively good thing: less temptation to break them up with repeats when they’re broadcast, and less temptation to stretch out the long-term plot with filler episodes. I think the short-season renewal of The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the best thing that could have happened to it.

    aviv, I think you have the right of it: I don’t know anyone now who watches “live” television without some means of recording the shows whenever they’re on and skipping advertisements when playing them back.

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