Ideal Length of a TV Show?

Ideal Length of a TV Show?

  • 1-3 seasons

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3-5 seasons

    Votes: 4 80.0%
  • 5-7 seasons

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • 7-10 seasons

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Eternal

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

J-Sun

Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
5,323
This has some "separated by a common language" issues. To me, as an American, TV shows/series have seasons and they tend to be 22 episodes or 13 episode "half seasons" (without the "back nine") and are usually half-hour sitcoms or hour dramas. My question is about how many "sets of 22 or around thereabouts" tends to work best. How long until shows have found their stride and before they've run out of gas (to mix mobile metaphors)? I recognize that this works differently elsewhere (TV shows have series that are fewer than 22, etc.), so figured I should "define my terms" and anybody can play but may need to define theirs and/or translate, as well. And please expand on specific examples, if you want.

Anyway, I was just curious what people thought. I feel like this may have been asked before (maybe even by me) but I couldn't find a thread.

After a summer moratorium, I watched the last three episodes of Person of Interest which ended after five seasons and that got me to thinking about this. I think it'd be possible to design a show for a season or two as a sort of "maxi-series" that would work great but I know of no such thing (though there have been various "event series" but those are basically just mini-series or pre-cancelled shows) and every show that lasts less than three good seasons feels insufficient to me. Space: Above and Beyond was just really finding its stride. Firefly is #1 on the Criminal Cancellation List. Etc. On the other hand, while I know of several shows which have lasted longer than seven years, I've never been able to watch a show anywhere near regularly for that long. Homicide: Life on the Streets and Buffy the Vampire Slayer both lasted seven seasons but, as absolutely stark mad about Buffy as I was and still am, the last two seasons sucked, and the two before those were even a slight step down from the first three. Homicide also had a gentle decline and the last season, while fine, was pretty thoroughly unnecessary. I think the three-to-"five year mission" (and PoI got 4.5) is about perfect. The X-Files had about four good seasons out of its zillion, Farscape was 4+movie-thing in total. Every show I intend to watch or give a try to this season is in its first through fifth seasons with the overwhelming majority at the newer end of the scale.

Side questions: favorite shortest-running show? Favorite longest-running show? What seasons higher than 5 of what shows were your favorites and why? Or add your own answers to related questions I haven't thought of.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
Joined
Dec 20, 2014
Messages
1,698
Location
New Jersey
This has some "separated by a common language" issues. To me, as an American, TV shows/series have seasons and they tend to be 22 episodes or 13 episode "half seasons" (without the "back nine") and are usually half-hour sitcoms or hour dramas. My question is about how many "sets of 22 or around thereabouts" tends to work best. How long until shows have found their stride and before they've run out of gas (to mix mobile metaphors)? I recognize that this works differently elsewhere (TV shows have series that are fewer than 22, etc.), so figured I should "define my terms" and anybody can play but may need to define theirs and/or translate, as well. And please expand on specific examples, if you want.

Anyway, I was just curious what people thought. I feel like this may have been asked before (maybe even by me) but I couldn't find a thread.

After a summer moratorium, I watched the last three episodes of Person of Interest which ended after five seasons and that got me to thinking about this. I think it'd be possible to design a show for a season or two as a sort of "maxi-series" that would work great but I know of no such thing (though there have been various "event series" but those are basically just mini-series or pre-cancelled shows) and every show that lasts less than three good seasons feels insufficient to me. Space: Above and Beyond was just really finding its stride. Firefly is #1 on the Criminal Cancellation List. Etc. On the other hand, while I know of several shows which have lasted longer than seven years, I've never been able to watch a show anywhere near regularly for that long. Homicide: Life on the Streets and Buffy the Vampire Slayer both lasted seven seasons but, as absolutely stark mad about Buffy as I was and still am, the last two seasons sucked, and the two before those were even a slight step down from the first three. Homicide also had a gentle decline and the last season, while fine, was pretty thoroughly unnecessary. I think the three-to-"five year mission" (and PoI got 4.5) is about perfect. The X-Files had about four good seasons out of its zillion, Farscape was 4+movie-thing in total. Every show I intend to watch or give a try to this season is in its first through fifth seasons with the overwhelming majority at the newer end of the scale.

Side questions: favorite shortest-running show? Favorite longest-running show? What seasons higher than 5 of what shows were your favorites and why? Or add your own answers to related questions I haven't thought of.

Shows with 3-5 seasons are usually the sweet spot for me. Those are usually the ones with the biggest ambitions, the weirdest plots, and the best drama. If a show lasts for much longer, like 7 seasons it starts to lose what it had. Serial procedural shows can be good in the beginning with the right people but I wonder how much life is left in something like the NCIS franchise. Michael Weatherly held the key for me. I am jumping ship from the franchise itself but I still enjoy the witty banter in NCIS: LA.

The Maxi-series you are looking for is True Detective. It had a superb "limited" first season on HBO, but then they quickly greenlit the next season. The second was a poorly put together mess. Though I still enjoyed it. The creator is obviously taking a long break from the show and it's still on the table and he is still allowed to do a third season, but I am not holding my breath.

On the flip side of things, I think Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, doesn't get enough credit. A lot of people jumped ship in the first season and never gave it a chance. It's not in my list of favorite shows of all time, but it's a thrilling hour of television, all the same. A perfect companion TV Show for any Marvel fanboy.

Oh and it's always nice when the networks admit that they will allow a show to end properly with a conclusion. I think they've learned from their past mistakes on this. Most shows I have started in my adult life have all had endings, once they learned they were cancelled! When Firefly first aired it was a bit before my time.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
Joined
Dec 20, 2014
Messages
1,698
Location
New Jersey
Side questions: favorite shortest-running show? Favorite longest-running show? What seasons higher than 5 of what shows were your favorites and why? Or add your own answers to related questions I haven't thought of.

I will answer these as well. My favorite shortest running show is of course Firefly. My Favorite Longest-running show is the original Law & Order.

My favorite TV Shows that have five or more plus seasons are:
Breaking Bad (ended with five)
The Wire (ended with five)
Chicago Fire (Ongoing season five)
Boardwalk Empire (ended with five)


My Favorite Shows that have five or less seasons are:
The Leftovers (will end with three)
The Expanse (ongoing second season)
Battlestar Galactica (ended with four)
Halt and Catch Fire (on going third season)
The Newsroom (ended with three)

Furthermore all my favorites are completely original (mostly) works that had big ambitions and became cult classics or incredibly popular. Half of them are from HBO. My favorite TV Show by far is The Leftovers. The mythology is just so twisted and so chilling and it's the only thing that makes me scream curse words at the TV.
 
Last edited:

Rodders

|-O-| (-O-) |-O-|
Supporter
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
6,891
I'm in the 3 to 5 seasons camp. Mostly due to Bablyon 5 and its story arc. Some think that the last season wasn't up to much, but I felt that it would've been a great season had the show been allowed to finish naturally. I this shows that go passed the 5 series mark tend to fizzle out rather than finish well.

I also think that the best number of episodes is between 10 and 13. (22 episodes is great but I'd imagine it to be exhausting for the writers.)
 

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