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Miniseries The Mini-Season Trend

Discussion in 'Notable TV' started by Kenny Coyote, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    What's up with so many shows putting out tiny little min-seasons of 10 episodes? We used to call 10 hours of TV a mini-series - not a season! It's not just the shows coming from little networks that don't have the money to make a standard length season - even some of the fairly good sized networks are doing it.

    It doesn't affect me much because there's only one current show that I follow - Yellowstone - although they do it too and they're on Paramount. With that name you'd they they've got some decent money behind them to where they could out together full length seasons. So is the problem work ethic? Are people just getting too lazy to put together a full season? Running a series from fall to spring can't be that hard - just look at how many shows have done it. They all used to do it until recently. I hope the trend goes away because it's really not enjoyable to wait 9 or 10 months of a new season. I bet a lot of the viewers of these new shows don't even remember what was going on in the show after that much time goes by in between seasons.

    Maybe it's the small audiences these shows have. How may of these shows with the min-seasons these days get a Nielsen rating of 20? or even 10? Still, even though it may be a niche audience, if a show is doing better than breaking even, if it earns X amount of money per episode, then they'd earn twice as much with 20 episodes instead of 10. It's like any other product someone sells for a profit - it's desirable to sell more of them rather than less.
     
  2. Ome

    Ome Admin

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    I'm enjoying the mini-series' more these days because it kinda means I get to see the full story. I've wasted far too many hours on multiple shows that get cancelled after a year or two.

    I've also found that some series' that have over 20 episodes a season ten to have 'filler' episodes which don't really move the story forward.
     
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  3. Emelee

    Emelee Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 7 Years

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    It's a US thing with 22 episodes per season isn't it? European TV seasons have probably never been that long. The standard season is 6 episodes/season in the UK. In Scandinavia, it's usually 8 or 10 episodes/season.

    Now with streaming and cable networks taking over in the US, they FINALLY have the option of making shorter seasons.

    22 episodes per season has always seemed too much for me. The overall quality takes the hit. As @Ome said, some episodes feel like filler episodes. Some episodes are terrific, while some are just plain dull and feel uninspired.

    I don't think at all it has anything to do with laziness. As with writing papers, it's an art to keep it short and sharp all the way through. Not to ramble on and lose the reader's focus and interest in lots and lots of words.

    Have you ever read a thick novel where you feel its 600 pages should have been 300 instead?
     
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  4. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator EXP: 19 Years Staff Member

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    I think there are several reasons why the smaller seasons are catching on.

    1. Less financial gambles. In years past, they would agree to produce 25+ episodes per year, and spend large amounts of money on a "bet". They had to bet that the show would be successful enough to earn that money back via commercials. If the show bombed, that money was lost, and in certain situations (too many "bad bets") the executives might end up getting fired, too. Even the major networks rarely commit to a full-season order these days. They will agree to ten or thirteen episodes, then agree to pick up the rest of the season only if the ratings are good.
    2. Concessions to the actors. Many actors refuse to commit to the schedule of a regular series, so the smaller-scale series like ten episodes might attract star power that a twenty-two episode series may not. A star of a typical hour-long series might end up working twelve-hour days, six days a week for nine months of the year. Also, tying into #1 somewhat: the higher salaries that stars demand might make it financially prohibitive to do more than ten or twelve episodes per season.
    3. (Mentioned above) Tighter storytelling. Sometimes a writer prefers to get to the point!
    4. The overall disintegration of the traditional "TV season". I don't think there is as much demand for the traditional longer seasons because the Fall Premiere Week of my childhood is no longer the 'event' it once was. It's also led to the basic demise of "pilot season" as well. It may be a chicken/egg situation, of course, but new shows premiere almost continuously these days, and can be telecast any time the network needs to fill an empty space.
     
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  5. Soaplover

    Soaplover Soap Chat Active Member

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    22 episodes a season isn't too much... I find that excuse given by writers to be laughable. If writers would craft multiple stories going at different speeds... there weren't be so much filler.

    I've found with lots of mini season shows (i.e. 10 to 12 episodes) that the plot is focused on with the little character moments sacrificed.
     
  6. thomaswak

    thomaswak Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 10 Months

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    I agree with all of you guys.

    Mini season works better for me. 10 episodes seems the perfect format.
    No filler épisodes, real plot direction, ...

    And I can see more different series. It's really refreshing.
     
  7. Emelee

    Emelee Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 7 Years

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    Oh, yes! Committing to a full hour series with 22 episodes per season gives too little time left to watch multiple series.

    We live in a fast-pace society. A 15 minute YouTube clip can be too long for many young people these days. Things need to happen quicker or else focus will be lost. And I can feel some of that myself. If I give a new series a go and nothing captures me within 15 minutes, I won't give it another chance.

    Soaps are especially difficult these days. They do filler scenes because they have to put out half an hour or a full hour 5 times a week. I was a huge soap fan in the 90s. Now I only watch Emmerdale. But I record it so I can fast-forward through the plots or the scenes that seem dull.

    I wish ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX would rethink their seasons. I watch almost none of their series anymore. Modern Family on ABC is currently the only US series from the big 4 networks that I watch, and it's only a half-hour series.

    Better yet, when a limited series with maximum 6 episodes comes out!
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
  8. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    22 episodes is a minimum length for standard season; Dallas had seasons had seasons as long as 30 and 31 episodes. If it's not at least 21 or 22 episodes, the gap in between seasons is longer than the length of the season. A 9 month wait for new season is just too long. It kills the momentum of it when it gets to the point where it's been so long that people don't even remember what was happening in the last season.

    If a show is good, 30 episodes isn't too long. If it's bad, 10 episodes is too much. If you have something you love, why would you rather have less of it than more?
     
  9. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    It depends on the person. There are plenty of people who do have attention spans and want something more in depth than a little 15 minute clip. Why do you think Joe Rogan's podcasts do so well? Joe Rogan does three hour interviews and he's got the most successful podcast in the business! Apparently, people want substance. People appreciate a product that goes beyond a superficial level - something that goes deep.
     
  10. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Star EXP: 3 Years

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    Part of me does miss the 90s when we would get 30 episodes+ of Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210, with only summer breaks basically. Of course it also means that they ended up plowing through a lot of storylines and inevitably - especially Beverly Hills 90210 - get repetitive (what horrible thing can happen to Kelly Taylor this week?). I can see both sides of the coin to be honest - on one hand, more is more and I like having something to watch weekly almost all year round. On the other hand, quality can quickly suffer and fatigue can set in for everyone involved - writers, producers and actors get a non-stop work schedule. It's easier to keep up quality if you only produce so many episodes per season and actors won't be as inclined to leave if it only takes up a few months of their year, leaving them open to pursue a movie career or passion projects.
     
  11. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 12 Years

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    Maybe that's why it's become so popular. It's not especially good for the audience to have to wait 9 months for the next season, but I can see why the actors would like it. Maybe that's the only way a show like Yellowstone gets made. It used to be that you'd never see a movie star of Kevin Costner's stature star in a TV series. Ten episodes per season creates enough down time in between seasons for him to still maintain his career in movies.
     
  12. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Star EXP: 3 Years

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    Absolutely. Viola Davis had it written in her contract that How To Get Away With Murder wouldn't be more than 15 episodes per season; similarly Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard would only sign on to 18 episodes per season of Empire (though the final season will have 20 episodes). As you said, Kevin Costner would probably never agree to doing 22+ episode seasons.

    With that said, I do think that lower down on the hierarchy there's been some rumblings and dissatisfaction about these short seasons - I know people like script writers are starting to be critical of this system because it ties them down to a contract and limits their work availability, while at the same time they aren't getting paid more to necessarily compensate for the shorter seasons of work.
     
  13. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    Because not every story or genre lends itself to multiple storylines, like soap operas.
    But a mini-series is like a very long movie (James Michener's "Centennial" runs over 20 hours, while "How The West Was Won" had 3 short seasons) and has no continuation in the next season.
    North & South is also not 3 seasons but 3 mini-series based on 3 novels (eventhough they are connected, obviously).
    It's not just that the series have gotten shorter, they also label everything as season these days.

    Oh yes, there was something very comforting about the idea of 25-30 weeks of non-stop TV entertainment: the soaps, the cop/whodunit show, sitcoms, hospital dramas etc.
    But at least the streaming services continue to add new titles so it never feels like a summer break anymore. There's always something to watch.

    What I really hate is those so-called midseason-finales and premieres. It's pretentious BS, just give me the whole season and get it over with.
     
  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    We've always had shorter seasons (0r series) in the UK. Six eps for a sitcom, maybe thirteen (at the very most, usually less these days) for a drama is standard. The main reason is that TV here tends to be writer-, rather than producer-, led. So the same writer is responsible for the entire season/series rather than a whole team of writers led by a producer. Don't know if the same thing applies to shortened seasons on Netflix etc. Production standards are certainly higher than when they were churning out thirty eps a year.
     
  15. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Star EXP: 3 Years

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    Eh, I disagree with you there - soap operas with ensemble casts do fine with having long seasons in theory since there should always be someone to pick up the slack. A show like Knots Landing where you can inevitably switch from one family to the next does better in a longer format in my opinion if you accurately play the beats. Of course, there's soaps like Revenge that have a hyper focused central plot line that might do better with limited seasons, but overall soaps if anything should do well with long seasons.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    ^
    Sorry, I should have written unlike soap operas or like soap operas do. (although, regardless of my grammatical mistake I think it's kinda self-explanatory:rolleyes:)
     
  17. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 17 Years

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    Yes there are so many shows with a movie-style quality, so maybe we should also consider production costs and the time to produce it.
     
  18. Emelee

    Emelee Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 7 Years

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    Bottom line is, what the audience wants, the audience gets. Right now, audience wants streaming, high quality and short seasons.
     
  19. tommie

    tommie Soap Chat Star EXP: 3 Years

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    NOT FOR ME!!!

    [​IMG]

    Perhaps, the reason why Netflix reduced a lot of shows to ten episode seasons is because they noticed that people watched full seasons in a timely manner better with only 10 episodes rather than 13 episodes or above. If anything, streaming has given outlets a better idea about audience behaviors and patterns at least.
     
  20. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Warrior EXP: 12 Years

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    I prefer the mini seasons as they can be binged pretty quickly and we don't get those surplus characters showing up like you would in the old soaps. The annoying antagonist brought in to cause tension between a couple for absolutely zero reason other than to pad out the season. You also don't get strange dream/ alternate reality episodes that are also only there to pad the season out and don't progress character, plot or story. What/If on Netflix was pretty tight and well done I think. Kind of what Revenge could never have been on ABC.
     

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