Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why BBC is Kicking Our Entertainment Ass

My computer is back up and I can now sit at my desk and write in comfort.

I am writing up a review of the Netflix show House of Cards and I was thinking about something I touched on in that article.

Frank Underwood - House of Cards wallpaper crom
Image from
American Television is backward in the way they put out entertainment. The model of 24 episodes a season is designed to get the most out of the advertising dollar. Long stores are harder to write for. You get a few episodes that are really just throwaway. A solid story arch really is only six to twelve episodes.

The BBC does it right, they have a story to tell, they tell it and they are done. You get more good stories told and less trash. Doctor Who is a great example of a wonderful story arc. All of the episodes had a nugget of the larger story. Sherlock has only three episodes and that creates a higher desire to see the episodes.

Image from Merchandise.The Doctor Who site
Torchwood is a show that starts in the BBC and we see what an Americanization can do to a 
show. Season one was 12 episodes, tight and spot on. Season two was 12 episodes not as tight but still good. Season 3 was a five-episode special. All of them filmed in BBC.

Now we see the same show now produced in the US using the 24 episode format. It was bad. Wow, it was really bad. We seem to have a mutant power to make shows suck.  The problem is that it was only a 12 episode story, but we had to fill it with 12 episodes of fluff that gave no forward motion to the story.

It really saddens me because it was such a good show. They are talking about doing a season five but really I am kind of burned out on the show because of how bad the fourth season US/BBC amalgam was.

With all of the other ways, we are getting the entertainment we have very few people who actually watch shows live. No one does that, they are trying to drive more people to watch the shows by hosting live-tweeting events to get people in front of the TV when it airs.

My advice – Shorter seasons, tighter stories. Your extras content should be driven to eth DVR or Web audience. There are far more people getting entertainment that way than live shows anymore. We don’t even have cable I get all my shows off Hulu, Netflix or the network web pages streaming to my Chromecast.

These kinds of goes along with my other observations on studios needing to modernize their thinking or they are going to be sucking wind like Sony pictures and Amazing Spiderman or the DC movie franchises. The future is now and if you don’t innovate how you get your entertainment out there you are going to get left in the dirt.

I can count on one hand the shows that are doing it right in the US. What shows are doing the storytelling write or wrong in the US?

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