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Old February 17 2012, 07:20 PM   #441
Temis the Vorta
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Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

I find it hard to believe that after umpteen thousand years of storytelling, short stories will suddenly become extinct.
No format is going to become totally extinct, but they ebb and flow in how common they are.

The length of TV episodes has been set for the benefit of advertisers, to give them a nice, compact amount of time around which to schedule ads. The episodic format was the most useful in an environment of mass-market TV, in which there were only three options.

It was designed to capture channel surfers without demanding much investment of their time or effort. They could see an episode and skip the next week without any penalty. Since there was no internet and no DVDs, and reruns were shown in a hit or miss way, there was no easy way for viewers to catch up with a serialized show anyway, so how could that format ever catch on?

It's no coincidence that serialized shows became more predominant as the mass audience fragments into niche tastes, where the episodic format makes less sense economically, and as technological changes make following a serialized show much easier.

The format of TV is contrived, not natural in any sense, and is shaped by economic and technological forces which are now changing. So the predominant format will change as well. None of this is some natural outgrowth of what people like or what is "good." It's all about what's good for advertisers, and what's going to allow TV to survive as technological changes start to really undermine the old ways of doing business, which is a process that is happening now.

Envision a world in which all "TV" shows are streamed from sites like Netflix or Hulu. Why should an episode be an hour long? Why not ten minutes long or ten hours long? Why should there be one episode per week? And the degree to which one episode connects to another could vary just as radically - why not have no connection (the return of the virtually extinct anthology format)?

Or the connection can be weak, or very strong - though for the sake of keeping niche audiences coming back, I'd say the stronger the connection, the better. And maybe the anthology format is also a niche taste, that's not being served. That would argue in favor of the revival of that format. Above all, the trend is towards greater diversity rather than the extinction of any particular format.

There are no pure episodic shows on prime-time television, and very few pure serial shows.
That's an unimportant quibble. There's a continuum from very episodic to very serialized shows that really does exist. TV used to be highly episodic and is a lot less so now. Why? Because the business and technology has changed and has shaped the tastes of the audience.

Viewers haven't driven this change, they've been led into it, as HBO and other pioneers started giving them more options - and that was because of technology that allowed HBO to exist, and then to build a business to take advantage of that technology. This process is going to continue into the future and just as its favored more serialization in the past, it will continue to favor it in the future, along with a greater broadening of options in general (such as the possible return of the anthology format - now there's an episodic structure!)

1. Breaking Bad
2. Homeland
3. Downton Abbey
4. Parks and Recreation
5. Game of Thrones
6. Louie
7. Justified
8. Community
9. The Good Wife
10. Modern Family
Yeah, that's pretty much what I've been saying - maybe the serialization isn't causing the increase in quality of the more serialized shows over the more episodic ones, but there's something that's causing this phenomenon and it's not my imagination.

Maybe it's that cable attracts better writers and cable also demands serialized shows, so all the best writers happen to be working on serialized shows. If they worked on the more episodic shows, then those would be better. Or writers like serialized shows better, because of the greater creative freedom, so if they can get hired onto one, they'll jump at the chance. Since the best writers get their pick of gigs, then that would explain it. Or it could be something else. Doesn't really matter why it's happening, but it's happening.
But that is a topic that has been argued endlessly around here, no need to go there again.
Party pooper! I so love any excuse to inflict mega-posts on yall.

And just to be fair to the episodic format, this show sounds at least partially episodic and also pretty interesting (depending on casting, and assuming, perhaps rashly, that it doesn't become some kind of Future Guy-esque muddle):

Out Of My Vulcan Mind wrote: View Post
More Syfy development news from Deadline Hollywood:

Writer Brett Conrad (Sons Of Anarchy, Covert Affairs) has sold the spec sci-fi action drama The Dover Agenda to SyFy, with Barry Josephson (Bones) on board to executive produce and FremantleMedia to produce. The Dover Agenda, which is currently being adapted to a 90-minute pilot, the format used by Syfy, is a thriller about a young man who is recruited by a future version of himself to work for a secret branch of Military Intelligence specializing in parapsychology and future tech. The nature of fate comes into play as the young man slowly begins to realize he did not turn out the way he thought he would.

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; February 17 2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: wait! wait! there's more!
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