WFMW - Short TV Seasons

Today it was really hot – at least for April in Missouri. At 84 degrees, I regretted my choice to wear jeans and sincerely considered turning on the air conditioner. I didn’t. But I thought about it.

After school Annalyn asked me how high the temperature had gotten, and she said, “Yay! It’s almost summer! I love summer because it’s the longest.” I explained to her how, if we go by the calendar, each season is the same length. (She’s a super smart first-grader, so she immediately figured out that meant three months per season.) Here in the Midwest, the calendar is pretty accurate. All seasons are created [mostly] equal.

Of course, the same cannot be said for all TV seasons. The average full-length network television season is 20-26 episodes long. And that’s great! {For my new readers, this might be news to you. But I’m a Big Fan of TV.} Today, though, I contend that sometimes shorter is better.

Yes, that’s right. I said it. Short seasons of TV can be a good thing! And I’m not even going to stop there. Oh no, there’s more. I’ll even confess that sometimes I think short series are a good thing, too!


Now, before you start throwing your remotes at me, hear me out. I am not saying that your favorite show [insert Freaks & Geeks, Firefly, Moonlight or other one-season wonder here] should have been cancelled. I LOVED THOSE SHOWS, TOO. (Except Moonlight. I never watched it. But I’m sure I’d love it if I did.)

And I’m not talking about the short reboots or reunions or revisions or WHATEVER of old shows (The X-Files, Twin Peaks, 24, Full House, Who Knows What’s Next). Nope, not talking about that and the Lack-of-Original-Ideas-itis going around at all.

But sometimes it’s kind of nice not to be locked into a television commitment for five full years. Making it to syndication is great, but that means I’ve been stuck with a show – for better or worse – for 100 episodes. That’s a LOT, you guys.

While it drives me crazy the way that cable stations play by their own rules and produce TV shows with whatever number of seasons they feel like and air them whenever they darn well please (or so it seems), I do like the shorter seasons part of it. Earlier this year, I got behind watching Suits. I realized I had five or six episodes backed up on my DVR and I wasn’t sure I could catch up. But I could – and you know why? Because that’s ALL THERE WAS of this season. Or, season section? The winter season? I don’t know; like I said, the cable people do weird things. But my point is – I could much more easily catch up on a show I really enjoy because it was six hours of TV, not twenty-six.

A more popular example might be The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which an entire nation of TV lovers devoured in one week. Because it was 13 episodes and no more. (For now. Don’t panic. Netflix signed the show for two seasons from the get-go.)

Also, as excited as Mark and I were to start watching The West Wing together, we’ve spent more time watching Sherlock. Why? Because there’s so much LESS to catch up on! The thought of seven full seasons is so overwhelming! (Especially when we remember how long it took us to get through Friday Night Lights, which was five seasons long but each of those seasons included just 10 or so episodes.)

So I like shorter seasons. Sometimes. But I also like the trend of short series. Not the series we love that were cut short (I’m talking Veronica Mars, I’m talking Pushing Daisies, I’m talking Arrested Development before the weird online episodes.). Those are in a special category of their own.

[Side note: I finally read the second Veronica Mars novel, and when I finished it, I literally said out loud, “I hate you, Rob Thomas!” Because reading the books was exactly like watching the movie, which was exactly like watching the show. And I WANT MORE. And according to all the googling I could stand, THERE WILL BE NO MORE. Pass the tissues?]

So, I’ve been thinking about this short season/short series thing, and I thought I should probably make a list. And since I miss old-school blogging, when listing my favorite things WAS A WHOLE, REAL POST, I’m going to go ahead and do that right here.

Short-Lived TV Shows

Ready? Here goes:

TV Shows I Loved That Planned Short Seasons

  • Marvels of SHIELD: Agent Carter (I’m hoping for a second season but okay without it.)
  • Hindsight (thankfully renewed for another [probably short] season – whee!)
  • Galavant (Honestly, I only enjoyed this one BECAUSE it was short.)

Cancelled Shows I Loved That Ended Well

  • Missing (This one had Ashley Judd who was Just a Mom! Looking for Her Son! – remember? I really liked it but didn’t mind it being just one season. It wrapped up the main storyline in the finale, so I was satisfied with was honestly felt like a long movie.)
  • Last Resort (Did anyone else watch this one? With Scott Speedman and Andre Braugher? I really liked it but wasn’t really looking forward to them stretching it out long term. One [season] and done was good for me.)
  • Better Off Ted (I think I’ve rewatched this show three times. If you like dark comedy, dry humor or workplace funny business, this is for you. The good news about it only being two seasons is that you can watch the whole thing in days. Maybe even while you’re at work.)
  • The Crazy Ones (This was on last year and starred Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. They worked in an ad agency, and as someone who’s done that, I liked the show a lot. It didn’t end abruptly so I guess I won’t complain. Too much.)
  • Allegiance (This show was cancelled, but NBC is showing the episodes that were filmed online and On Demand. I’m really hoping they wrap it up well and don’t leave us hanging. That would be super annoying.)

Shows I Wish Would’ve Lasted Longer But You Can’t Win ‘Em All, So At Least We Had a Few Episodes

  • Selfie – #ineedclosure #thisturnedouttobesogood #sadsadsad
  • Benched – decent end to its first season, but I sure hoped for a second.
  • Breaking In – I’m a sucker for any TV show starring Christian Slater, it seems. And he’s a sucker for shows destined to fail.
  • Samantha Who & Up All Night – before these shows, I didn’t know Christina Applegate is so funny. She is. And I hope she finds a new show that lasts more than a couple seasons soon. Or at least gets to be a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, because that’s fun, too.
  • Traffic Light & Perfect Couples – these two sitcoms were on the same time as Happy Endings. They were also shows about young-ish, professional-ish friends doing silly things and figuring out life. Much as I enjoyed Happy Endings, I still wish these two shows (especially Traffic Light, which I discovered tonight is on Netflix and will probably take up my next two or three free evenings) would have had a chance, too.
  • A couple old ones – The Class (just look it up on IMDB and check out the all-star roster! HOW did it not make it?) and Miss Match (Alicia Silverstone as a matchmaker. It was adorable. No, really.)
  • A couple surprising ones – Don’t Trust the B– in Apt. 23 (I know. It sounds awful, but it was funny. James Vanderbeek is pretty funny playing himself.) and Whitney (which I said at the time was horrible, but then I kept watching it and laughing and DARNIT, it turns out I liked it.)
  • And a few more that fall into no category at all – Trophy Wife (worst case of Wrong Name for a Sitcom since Cougar Town), Enlisted (funny and sweet and a shame nobody watched it), Against the Wall (family of cops on a Lifetime TV show – what more could you want?), Privileged (Joanna Garcia tutors rich kids. I think on the CW. So of course I liked it.) and Bent (the show that made me realize I will, apparently, watch David Walton in many, many short-lived TV shows)

So, there you have it. Short seasons (and series) sometimes work for me. [Short posts, it seems, do not. I have lots of words.]

What’s your favorite short TV show?

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

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