Editorial: A Film Enthusiast’s Suggestion to Improve Television Shows

Allison McDaniel | Guild Master


*Disclaimer: I criticize many TV shows in this article, but that does not mean that any of the shows are necessarily bad. Minor spoilers.

After a long day at work or school, one of the best ways to unwind is to slump down on the couch and turn on the TV. Television shows are a prime form of entertainment, but there is one  definitive way we could improve the overall quality of almost every show: shorten the length.

Credit: lhsnews.org
Credit: lhsnews.org

As the duration of each show shortens, the number of different shows would increase. This means there would be more shows a year, but runs would probably only last for one to two seasons. A lengthy series, like The Office (nine seasons), Smallville (ten seasons), and CSI: Miami (ten seasons), would last for a maximum amount of five seasons.

Each show should only run for the course of the story. Producers should opt for a shorter show if the story is told best in a smaller amount of time, as there will be even more shows to produce.

For example, in the show Prison Break the first season is a long complex tale about how the characters escape prison. The following seasons could not compare to the first at all. This is because the purpose of the show was told in the first season. It would have been better if the show had ended earlier.

Supernatural is another show that ran, and is still running, much longer than it needs to. What force of evil is worse than Satan? In the fifth season, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) battle and defeat the devil, the ultimate evil. The show should have ended then to both preserve the quality and complete the story better.

Due to this, shows are less likely to continue after the loss of a main character. Sometimes actors leave shows because they want to spend more time with their families, move on to different roles, or simply because they want to move on.

Credit: presto.com.au
Credit: presto.com.au

For instance, a series like The X-files lost one of their main characters Fox Mulder played by David Duchovny. This show continued for one additional season that was significantly below average due to the absence of the most interesting character. This left fans frustrated and upset.

Other examples of shows that should have ended when some of their most influential characters left include The Office (Michael Scott played by Steve Carell), That 70’s show (Eric Forman played by Topher Grace), and many more. All of these shows would have been significantly better had they ended when these characters left because the stories did not work without such an influential character; it would have made for a better story.

How would this affect the industry? A lot of people will suggest the only reasons these shows continue is for the money; however, if each series was shortened more shows would be pitched and produced. Pitches would include how many seasons a series would have. Each show would have a clear story/purpose and timeline before approval as well as production. There would be significantly more opportunities for actors, writer, producers, and more.

Television needs to start adapting to each generation’s shortening attention span; the best way to do this is to shorten the overall length of a series. There is less commitment to watch something you know won’t last for ten years.

Header Credit:  Allison McDaniel, mashable.com

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