TV writing takes time, exec says, so get a life



Jack Coleman and Hayden Panettiere are shown in a scene from the television hit series Heroes.


WHAT TERRIBLE FOOD – AND SUCH SMALL PORTIONS! Vince Horiuchi of the Salt Lake Tribune says that the question he’s asked about most frequently from TV viewers is why there are so many reruns of current TV shows airing in prime time. Horiuchi claims that the first thing he tells them is “Get a life,” and that the next thing he does is launch into “a well-conceived, detailed answer that involves calculations, cost analysis and other things about the television industry.”


The reason is simple enough: the traditional TV season runs for 32 weeks from September to May, but the average network only produces a maximum of 22 to 24 episodes of a show every season, leaving 8 to 10 weeks to fill with reruns, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a winter Olympics or a major news event to produce original programming. Most networks know that they can blow off two or three weeks with reruns during the Christmas season since most viewers are busy with parties and shopping, which leaves us with the doldrums of late winter and early spring – now, in other words – when everyone notices all the effing reruns and writes complaints to people like Vince Horiuchi.

(Thankfully, Metro readers have never bothered me with this question, and for that I am grateful. Most of the time, I just get asked what happened to their favorite show, which hasn’t been playing in the Wednesday 8:30pm slot for weeks. I usually tell you that, yes, it’s been cancelled, that it sucked eggs, and that I personally cancelled it, and that I’m coming after their kitty cat next.)

The next - and most obvious - question that Horiuchi says he gets asked next is why the networks don’t just produce more episodes to fill out the 32 weeks of the season – after all, not everyone can be Fox, and kill off a half dozen or so critically-praised cult hits before Idol and 24 start up in the new year. The answer to that is also simple – thanks to uppity viewers like yourself, who’ve come to expect TV shows to look more like movies on your ever-larger TV sets, productions costs on almost every series except for three-camera laugh-track sitcoms have increased.

“A show like Heroes,” Horiuchi writes, “is going to look slicker and have better production values than any Dragnet of yesteryear made with cardboard sets.” You’ve also gotten used to better writing, which takes time, and which is why “quality” cable shows on networks like HBO are only around a dozen episodes long. Hell - in England, where the shows are so good that people have been known to die after watching two whole episodes in a row, seasons are just six episodes long. So stop complaining: read a book, talk to your kids, go out for dinner, start a website, watch all the crap you’ve TiVoed, clean up your damn yard (the neighbours are complaining) and yeah – get a life.