Help support TMP

"In Your Country, How Many Episodes Make A Full Season?" Topic

21 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the SF Media Message Board

Back to the Fantasy Media Message Board

Back to the Utter Drivel Message Board

Areas of Interest

Science Fiction

698 hits since 9 Jul 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Cacique Caribe09 Jul 2018 9:05 p.m. PST

I used to have a rule that I wouldn't really get excited about a tv show until they had finished their first full season, or perhaps the second. And over here a full season for a series is a dozen episodes if not more.

Now I'm noticing that some recent non-US shows carried on Netflix have half that many episodes, or even less.

Is it me, or are seasons* shrinking for the tv series industry? Or is this just a regional thing? Or are most of these really just what we would call "miniseries" (a long movie cut into 3 or 4 one-hour installments played back to back during the course of a week) that initially had no plans for continuation but which somehow got extended to a second "season". Please enlighten me.


* And please don't tell me that this is just another byproduct of "Climate Change"

28mm Fanatik09 Jul 2018 9:35 p.m. PST

A typical network TV show (i.e., CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) has anywhere from 20 to 24 episodes. That's still the case right now.

Cable shows (HBO, Showtime, FX, etc.) typically have 12 to 16 episodes a season, and newer streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime shows may have even less (10 to 12 episodes per season).

War Monkey09 Jul 2018 9:35 p.m. PST

No it's not just you, it seems "Season" for this generation runs for about 8 to 15 Weeks.

Back in the day a season ran for 26 to 28 weeks!

BillyNM09 Jul 2018 9:38 p.m. PST

Over here (UK) a season could easily be as few as six episode but 8-10 is perhaps more typical. US series always seem be in the twenties, great at first but I find this means, especially in later series, that the original premise gets a bit tired.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2018 9:39 p.m. PST

You are right, things are certainly changing. When I watched TV on a more regular basis (in the 1980s) seasons tended to average closer to two dozen episodes:



Winston Smith09 Jul 2018 10:07 p.m. PST

Stranger Things had 6.

parrskool10 Jul 2018 1:55 a.m. PST

in the uk, usually 6 though increasingly 8 for popular shows. The fantastic "Humans" series for Channel4 can go for longer.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 5:17 a.m. PST

but I find this means, especially in later series, that the original premise gets a bit tired.

This is the give and play of ensuring profits (or viewership, if you prefer) by maintaining a customer base. If you make major changes, you risk some losing customers who liked what you had. If you do the same thing too long, you risk losing other customers who get bored.

In serial entertainment, like TV shows, people tend to be more attached to the characters than the environments or plots. And they don't want the characters to change, the way normal people do. Not just keep the same casting, but have the people behave now the same way they always did.

There are some notable successful examples of real change (not just casting change) in television series. There are more examples of failure of change in the boneyard.

This compounds with the effect that something completely new also generates a lot of energy, leading to a behavioural model where you milk one thing for as much viewer loyalty as you can get, then throw it away and generate buzz with something different.

Mike Target10 Jul 2018 5:31 a.m. PST

From TV Tropes:


Prime Time shows are made differently in Britain, and perhaps the biggest sign of this is season length. With few exceptions, Brits do not like Filler. In the United States, prime time shows generally run 22-24 episodes per full-length season. British shows, on the other hand, tend to produce only up to about thirteen episodes a year if they're dramatic, or about six if they're comedies. This also applies to most European countries and Latin America, although these mostly follow daily schedules (especially in recent years, as it has expanded to primetime) rather than weekly instalments. Most Commonwealth nations also follow this model, with relatively short series being the norm on their equivalents of the BBC.

There are a number of reasons for this, the simplest being that British shows usually have a fairly small creative team. It's not uncommon for one person to single-handedly write every episode of a show, as Steven Moffat did with Coupling, or David Renwick with Jonathan Creek (compare American sitcoms, which are almost always "written by committee"). The shorter working schedule means that a British show can often focus more on a tighter cast of regular characters, whereas American shows frequently have to create more of an ensemble, to allow their actors to have sufficient breaks during the long, gruelling shooting schedule.

Vigilant10 Jul 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

Much of it is also down to quality over quantity, along with the type of programme. Historical drama costs a huge amount of money and takes a lot of time to produce, so they produce shorter runs. Something like a police procedural or hospital drama are easier and cheaper to produce and take less time, so more can be produced. As with all things it is a matter of balance.

Cacique Caribe10 Jul 2018 9:41 a.m. PST

War Monkey: "No it's not just you, it seems "Season" for this generation runs for about 8 to 15 Weeks."

The ADHD generation, it seems. And it keeps getting worse. And fewer seasons doesn't necessarily translate into more substance either. There are some very weak 13 season shows out there.

I couldn't believe that Strange Things is now down to 6 episodes. All the expectation, just to end up with only six!


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 9:46 a.m. PST

Well, when it comes to quality, I've recently watched some short British series (6-8 eps) and found them to have just as high a ratio of turkeys-to-trophies as longer American series. So apparently one rises (or falls) to the demands of the situation.

But there are series where every episode maintains a high level of quality, even as filler. (The all-too-brief FIREFLY naturally comes to mind.) personally, I think a dozen eps is about right, but only if the writers have the chops for it. Some do, some don't. Honestly, the actors and directors are secondary to that.

PJ ONeill10 Jul 2018 10:33 a.m. PST

Just for perspective, the first season of "Twilight Zone" in the US, ran for 36 episodes in 1959, 29 for season 2, 37 for seas. 3 and 36 for season 5.
If I remember, the last season of the British show "Sherlock Holmes" had 3 episodes.

MajorB10 Jul 2018 11:13 a.m. PST

Season? The radio series "The Archers" has run for over 18,650 episodes!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 11:49 a.m. PST

I still go with a broadcast season of 22 as "US normal," even though I haven't watched anything not on DVD for 15+ years. But I think the old 25/26 of my childhood was right for broadcast: show everything once, but then for every "holiday special" you run, you have one clunker episode you don't have to run twice.

DVD, other means of watching at your own schedule, long interruptions in what is nominally one season and "binge watching" change the whole dynamic. I'm not sure "season" has much meaning any more.

roving bandit10 Jul 2018 4:30 p.m. PST

I tend to wait for the end of a season (or season break for some shows) and than just binge watch it. I look at tv shows the same way I look at serial movies. Watch it all at once, than wait a year or whatever for the next installment.

Buck21510 Jul 2018 7:29 p.m. PST

Worse yet, some shows run 10 episodes (less than half a season) then get canceled! I give you as Exhibit A, Kurt Sutter's "The Bastard Executioner"- chopped by Sutter himself. Hey, Kurt- how many seasons of your "Sons of Anarchy" played before it caught on with the viewing public? Someone in a previous post said it best- the ADHD generation dictates the survival of a show. But on which side of the screen has the ADHD- the viewers who won't give a new show a chance or the suits in charge of the networks who think the viewing public is so stupid the suits won't allow a show to continue past one season?

Mike Target11 Jul 2018 1:43 a.m. PST

The ADHD generation

yeah…though as this been happening since TV was invented it appears every generation is the ADHD generation…

If you read the link I posted before you'd see its actually more to do with which country the show is made in than the "youth of today". The main factors are economic rather than attention span, and those economics vary between countries.

It really annoys me when people blame it on something that has nothing to do with the issue…I mean, why even bring up ADHD?

Its rediculous behaviour.

Covert Walrus11 Jul 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

Leaving aside the spelling if "ridiculous", have to concur with Mike Target: There are far more factors involved in tv series length these days.

One is cost: A big factor here in New Zealand, shows that are more expensive due to effects, cast size and length if each episode factor in as well – the effects-heavy "Thunderbirds Are Go" has 8 half hour episodes IIRC per season, and has run 5 seasons while the equally effects rich hour long show "This Is Not My Life" had a single 12 episode series. So far, "Thunderbirds" has cost less than the other, and made three times as much money. Another example – "Outrageous Fortune" had seasons of 18 episodes but the prequel show "Westside" has 10 0r 12 episodes, due to the cost of simulating the 1970s ( Sets, wardrobe and cars … The things you learn as a extra who looks good in historical costume because he's short :) )

StarCruiser12 Jul 2018 7:11 a.m. PST

The US Normal season WAS about 26 episodes back in the 1950s-60s, and I believe into the 70s as well.

That's part of the reason why some shows from that era that only lasted 3-4 seasons seem to have so many episodes – 70 odd to over 100 would not be unusual back then.

Star Trek, for example – 3 seasons, 79 aired episodes ("The Cage" never aired intact).

chromedog14 Jul 2018 5:22 p.m. PST

For us, it depends on the network and the show.

I don't think there's a national standard for it here.

Some shows have 6-10, some soaps get 200+ episode seasons (Neigbours has aired 7880 episodes over 34 seasons for example).

ST:TNG used a 24 episode season for the most part – except for the short S2 (mercifully short) due to the writer's strike that year.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.