Time and time again it happens. Every week you nestle into your favourite spot on the sofa, snacks in hand, ready for the latest episode of your favourite show. Over the past weeks this has become a flagstone of your routine, a ritual you keenly await. The episode ends and a dreaded voice breaks the news that you will have to wait three, or four, or six, or (in the case of poor Adventure Time fans) even eight months to find out what happens next. The week ahead seems barren as your routine has been brutally broken apart. You’ve just been hit by a mid-season hiatus…
In this world of online streaming and marathon binge watching whole series on Netflix, it is painful enough to wait seven measly days for your next prime time hit. Throw in some juicy cliff-hangers and the wait is nigh on unbearable as it is (fans of The Walking Dead will know this pain well). So, think of the dread when you must wait months to find out the fate of your most beloved characters.
“Instead of making ridiculously long series which end up being dragged out over half a year, just make two shorter, more satisfying series”
We have American TV networks to thank for the arrival of the mid-season hiatus. It may seem like common sense to air a series from start to finish without leaving millions of viewers in suspense for months on end: however, these networks want the highest numbers of viewers watching their most popular shows. More viewers mean more money from advertising, but this pursuit of profit has led to some seemingly nonsensical scheduling.
Take Gotham, which airs on Channel 5 in the UK. In the States, the show is already well into the second part of its third season, recently returning after a month and a half break. Bewilderingly, the show is soon due to take yet another break until April! Hopefully, UK viewers won’t have to suffer the same when the season finally makes its way to our screens. They say good things come to those who wait, but Gotham better be unbelievable to live up to expectations.
Here’s a crazy idea. Instead of making ridiculously long series which end up being dragged out over half a year, just make two shorter, more satisfying series. Or better yet, just air them the old-fashioned way, week by week. It’s not perfect, but it has been tried and tested for decades and in all that time it seemed to work out okay.
I can see why they do it. The break gives the networks a chance to dazzle us with spin-offs while we await the passing of the dark months. It lets them excite us with sneak peaks, each advert getting people talking about the programme once again. But instead of hyping up the show to all their friends, the talk will be of how infuriating it is that there are still months to wait for the next instalment. I for one would be far more excited if I could just sit down the next week and continue to enjoy my favourite shows.