A TV column by Jamie Hill 

The Americans.

I blame them for so much these days. They’re an easy target at the moment especially with their incompetent in chief buffooning around trying to create World War Three because someone looked at his pint funny.

But my major gripe is that they are just so damned good at bringing us television. They surprise me over and over and over again. Just check out Godless on Netflix if you want the latest example.

And with that great power of bringing us great television they also have a great power in making it as frustrating as they possibly can.

Not only do we get 22 episode runs (what’s so wrong with 15 or even 10? Why does each show have to last six months!) but they have also given us the mid-season break.

You’re just getting into a series. The zombies are at the door. They’re just about to reveal who the big bad is. Or whathisname or whatshername are finally going to get it on and suddenly without any warning you are told that the show is taking its mid-season break and won’t be back until February. That’s three bloody months away.

And when it comes back, in their heads, it’s still the same bloody season. Despite them now having a finale episode just before the break. Why don’t they just admit that they’re now doing two seasons a year and be done with it.

But why should we put up with this weird affliction that television has got into? Why do they even do it in the first bloody place?

Of course it’s all about money and time. Breaks or hiatus’s give the studios catch-up time to finish the episodes as it takes about eight days to shoot one ep on average.

The studios also want to make ‘ad’ money off of each episode so spreading it out over a longer period is another way they can keep the shows in busy ratings slots of autumn and late winter/early spring.

Also during November, February, May and July, all prime rating times, Nielsen (the biggest ratings analyser in the US) carries out ‘sweeps’ where they analyse each show to see what people are tuning into and what demographic. This is then used by ad buyers to target audiences.

That’s why you’ll often see shocking twists or big guest stars during these periods so the networks can impress as much as possible during ‘sweep’ weeks.

Personally, I believe it’s all a bit silly. Why can’t people just tell a good story nowadays without worrying about all this other stuff? Bloody money coming around here and making the world go round.

It’s why Netflix’s refusal to reveal ratings is so damn refreshing. It means that they’re not beholden to the man and can just tell a good story at whatever speed they damn well want.

For the viewers that’s got to be the way forward rather than being stuck in this constant ratings spiral.

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