Why are British show seasons so small?

SAWYER

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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I started watching Luther and really liked it, then season 1 only had 6 episodes then the next two seasons were 4 each.
 

Thump553

Lifer
Jun 2, 2000
12,669
2,424
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I don't know but I've noticed it is pretty universal for British shows. Maybe they are all edging for a slot on Masterpiece Theater?
 

NoTine42

Golden Member
Sep 30, 2013
1,387
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Top Gear is like that, too.
Across the pond, Duck Dynasty has multiple, small seasons per calander year, too.


Its kinda nice, not being stuck with only getting new shoes during thè 3 "sweeps" months a year.
 

PottedMeat

Lifer
Apr 17, 2002
12,365
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i think 10-12 episodes to tell a story is a sweet spot

generating 20+ episodes with the sole goal of getting renewed is insane
 

cronos

Diamond Member
Nov 7, 2001
9,380
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Sherlock Holmes is also like that, and same with my other favorite, Top Gear.

Sherlock is gone until 2016, it appears.

i think 10-12 episodes to tell a story is a sweet spot

generating 20+ episodes with the sole goal of getting renewed is insane

I agree. 10-13 a-la HBO is the sweet spot. 22-24 as is the standard in the US for broadcast TV is excessive. Sherlock though is the other extreme at only three episodes per season and even with that it only airs every other year (although the episode is longer so it's more like three full movies instead of three TV series episodes).
 

Imp

Lifer
Feb 8, 2000
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You definitely start getting filler when you hit 20-ish episodes.

Thank goodness they don't do as many shitty clip shows anymore. One Stargate SG-1 episode is tattooed in my memory: it's two guys in a room and a bunch of clips for an hour... Must have really run out of money or something.
 

feralkid

Lifer
Jan 28, 2002
16,465
4,533
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Wow we export that crap?

At great planetary risk.

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squarecut1

Platinum Member
Nov 1, 2013
2,230
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from the web:

American comedy is a producer’s medium, in which an idea is worked up, characters developed and early scripts written, and then the show is handed over to a larger group of writers to flesh out into actual scripts. British comedy is a writer’s medium. The scripts are almost always written and developed by one or two people, then taken to production. Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, even directs his own scripts, which is a LOT of work. And once they’ve written six episodes, they need a rest.
 

bearxor

Diamond Member
Jul 8, 2001
6,609
2
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I'd rather have 6-12 quality episodes with top-notch new series coming on the air year round than the 20-24 episodes only during fall/winter with a lot of "filler" episodes.
 

squarecut1

Platinum Member
Nov 1, 2013
2,230
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It stands to reason why British series have generally higher quality than American ones. Because they are more personalized, done by one or two people, rather than by a whole group, which is much more commercial and hence a lot of filler scenes - GOT is a recent example.
 

cronos

Diamond Member
Nov 7, 2001
9,380
26
101
It stands to reason why British series have generally higher quality than American ones. Because they are more personalized, done by one or two people, rather than by a whole group, which is much more commercial and hence a lot of filler scenes - GOT is a recent example.

What are you talking about. GoT is most definitely an American TV show.
 

squarecut1

Platinum Member
Nov 1, 2013
2,230
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Yes, that is why it has so many filler scenes and story lines - to drag it out for all those long number of episodes
 

squarecut1

Platinum Member
Nov 1, 2013
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That is a lot more than typical British TV series. One of the best things to have come on TV in the last few years, Sherlock, only has had 3 episodes per season. Those seasons have been two years apart too. Quality over quantity.
 

manly

Lifer
Jan 25, 2000
10,987
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austerity measures, they don't have a multi-trillion dollar federal debt like we do.
 

Phoenix86

Lifer
May 21, 2003
14,643
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That is a lot more than typical British TV series. One of the best things to have come on TV in the last few years, Sherlock, only has had 3 episodes per season. Those seasons have been two years apart too. Quality over quantity.
Yeah and sustenance over starvation. 22 is far too many, but 1.5 / year is nuts. You can crank our feature length films in that time. Good ones.
 

techs

Lifer
Sep 26, 2000
28,561
4
0
In America people know a stinker episode didn't cost them anything. In Britain people get annoyed their money went to pay for a stinker episode.

It's a different mindset.
 
Nov 20, 2009
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Also keep in mind that OTA television in UK is socialized. This means content creators deliver product to the government to buy (or not) and air. I'm guessing this also means a smaller risk of producing 6 hourly episode or 4 90 minute episodes vs. how we Yanks do it over here.

BTW, just finished watching Father Brown, DCI Banks, Death in Paradise, Top Gear, Foyle's War and Inspector Morse this week. Many others are watched, too, like Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, Endeavor, Spy, just to name a few more.
 

Blackjack200

Lifer
May 28, 2007
15,995
1,685
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That is a lot more than typical British TV series. One of the best things to have come on TV in the last few years, Sherlock, only has had 3 episodes per season. Those seasons have been two years apart too. Quality over quantity.

It's funny Sherlock keeps coming up. I watched it and thought it was fantastic. Everyone I talk to about it (Americans) hated it.

/shrug

Yeah and sustenance over starvation. 22 is far too many, but 1.5 / year is nuts. You can crank our feature length films in that time. Good ones.

Sherlock episodes are like two hours each.
 

PottedMeat

Lifer
Apr 17, 2002
12,365
475
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It stands to reason why British series have generally higher quality than American ones. Because they are more personalized, done by one or two people, rather than by a whole group, which is much more commercial and hence a lot of filler scenes - GOT is a recent example.

...that's not really the best example.

GOT - written by 1 guy, adapted by 2 other guys who may hire a few other writers to adapt it to the screen, there's so much material a lot has to be cut out. the story is set, there's not really anything to 'create'. if anything GOT should be more than 10 episodes a season if HBO wanted to spend more $$$.