Does size matter? And by size, I mean length. And by length, obviously I am referring to the running time of the movies and TV shows that we watch.
Michael Schneider at Variety today has a feature talking about super-sized episodes of TV. Back in the bad old days of broadcast, a super-sized episode was usually something promoted as a huge benefit to viewers. You could see episodes of The Office given an extra 10-20 minutes. But in the streaming era, you've no doubt noticed episodes of shows varying wildly in length.
New HBO drama The Gilded Age started out with a super-sized 80-minute premiere, but later episodes vary between 46-56 minutes. And that show isn't alone. You'll find the same thing happening with most shows - some episodes reaching 90-minute movie-lengths.
“It’s just so strange that for my whole life, we were completely focused on” episode length, says Gareth Neame, executive producer of “The Gilded Age” on HBO, who performed similar duties on “Downton Abbey.” “The story had to fill a certain space. If you were really passionate, sometimes you could get another 30, 40 seconds, 60 seconds out of the broadcast because you just needed that extra space. And then suddenly, it’s fallen away as a major decider.”
But, not all TV shows are getting longer - some are going in the opposite direction. At lunch yesterday a friend yesterday noted that episodes of Pam & Tommy were getting shorter and shorter. Earlier episodes were between 44-52 minutes, but the most recent two have clocked in at 33 minutes. (This seems to coincide with the shows awkward efforts to drastically change the tone and focus of the show to becoming a more personal story of sympathy for Pamela Anderson. This has been done to varying levels of effectiveness, often undermined entirely by Anderson's public hostility towards the show as a whole).
For me, the variations in length isn't a huge issue, especially when it comes to event-ized shows like the various Star Wars or Marvel shows. Where it does impact me is in making the decision to press play on a show. I have been hesitant to start the South Korean show Snowdrop on Disney+ a number of times, noting the 90 minute episode runtimes.
Similarly at Variety, the question is asked: Why are movies so long now?
Test screenings can also work in a filmmaker’s favor. After enthusiastic previews, Chris Columbus, who directed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” says Warner Bros. did not give him any pushback about the film’s sprawling 2-hour-and-32-minute running time. Making a kid sit for that long is usually a tall order. The adventures of the famous boy wizard proved an exception. Harry Potter is one of several big properties, including Marvel and James Bond, where running time doesn’t play a factor. For rabid fans, longer can sometimes mean better.
ALF is coming back to TV - POG tie-ins still to be confirmed
Shout! Factory TV have plans for ALF. They don't include new ALF episodes. But the original series rights have just been purchased by Shout for the US home video market. They include the 102 episodes of the live-action series, plus 26 episodes of ALF: The Animated Series, 21 episodes of the animated ALF Tales, plus TV movie Project: ALF (co-starring Martin Sheen).
Series creators Paul Fusco and Tom Patchett:
“the home-away-from-Melmac that ALF has been looking for. We’re looking forward to bringing you ALF in a totally new way — with new content, unseen art, and restored footage not seen in 30 years. This is the moment ALF fans have been waiting for.”
What does this actually mean? Well, probably that Shout! will create a FAST channel streaming ALF 24/7 and distribute it via platforms like Peacock, Pluto TV, Samsung Plus, etc. As I said, this is US-only, but it does get ALF out of the vault and given greater visibility. Hopefully that gets the dopey sitcom back out into international markets too.
Sue me. I like ALF. Ha!
Of course, I ask the question: Considering that we are in 2022 now and certainly a lot more conscious of respecting cultures other than our own than we were in the 80s, why do we persist in calling him ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form, as coined by the Tanner family in the 80s) when his name is Gordon Shumway? Should we not be calling him Gordon?
Future streaming plans for Warner Bros Discovery
Ahead of the very soon Warner Bros / Discovery merger, boss David Zaslav is talking about streaming plans. While we don't know exactly what the future is for HBO Max or Discovery+ (will they be merged into one platform?), Zaslav has said that the company won't be spending for spending's sake. "Sustainable growth" is the phrase he used, essentially telling Wall Street that it is a steady hand on the wheel and that they shouldn't be spooked by the way his company is spending money on streaming (recent stock price drops for Paramount were attributed to Wall Street getting concerned about the expenditure costs of streamers).
That's sensible, but I don't think Zaslav completely understands complementary content, as evidenced by this example he gave:
“When you put Euphoria on, then everybody could watch 90 Day Fiancé and and they could watch Fixer Upper, there is a real balance of content here we can go to.”
One of those three shows I'd watch.
- Law & Order returns to TV this week after a 12-year hiatus. Here's a list of the supposed top 50 episodes of the show (there are 456 so far). Read: The Ringer
- During the week I referenced Lisa Edelstein as the 'glue that holds American TV together'. Coincidentally, she appears in a new 2-part podcast discussing her EXTENSIVE career. Listen: Hollywood and Levine
- Quiet success Blue Bloods airs its 250th episode in March. Read: TV Insider
- A 5-part series based on the Lockerbie bombing is being made for Sky in the UK and Peacock in the US. Read: thefutoncritic
- Anthony Edwards from ER has married Mare Winningham (a notable former guest star on ER). The two starred together in 1986 film Miracle Mile - one of the best oddball movies there's a good chance you've never seen. It's... memorable. Read: LA Times
- Sean Penn is currently in Ukraine filming a documentary for Vice about Russia's invasion. Read: Variety
- The Babylon 5 reboot is still in active development and consideration for next year's TV season. Read: TV Line
- Why is Paramount+ in Australia holding back Showtime series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber? Beats me, but it's a bonehead move. The show is super buzzy now and debuts this coming weekend in the US. It probably won't be buzzy even weeks from now. Because that's how TV works in the modern era: you have a very short window to capture folks attention and after that, TV is just content.
Why did Lauren Graham apologise to Twitter?
Because people on Twitter are mental and won't let the Gilmore Girls go, even the slightest retweet has audiences assuming there will be another revival of the show.
Me? I'm asking when we'll ever see more than 3 episodes of the quickly-cancelled The Return of Jezebel James?
Ghost in The Shell: SAC 2045 returns to Netflix for s2 this May.
WeCrashed debuts on Apple TV+ March 18.
Pachinko debuts March 25 on Apple TV+.
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