TV Hiatuses: Long Break or Many?

Hiatuses aren’t exactly a new concept in TV land. We notice them all the time: summer time for the major networks, after November and February sweeps. As a TV fan, it’s hard NOT to notice when your favourite shows are off the air for any period of time. Sometimes it can get downright infuriating, especially when shows give you a major cliffhanger that is supposed to tide you over until it comes back (I’m looking at you, Nikita!) With a lot of shows in the past few weeks, they’ve been on repeats (coming back next week) or they’ve actually been airing new episodes and will be on repeats soon. All this really got me thinking about the whole idea about hiatuses, or breaks (because hiatus just sounds like such a long period of time, which sometimes it really is): Is it better to have many breaks within a season (typically September to May) or have one extended break?

There are pros and cons to both. Watching the main networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), viewers have come accustomed to seeing a TV show’s season play out within the time frame of September to May. A typical TV season is 22 episodes, which is spread out over 9 months/36 weeks. Sure, it’s nice to be able to watch your favourite shows for 9 months but there’s a lot of breaks in between, varying from 1 week to 2 (sometimes even 3) months. Sometimes the breaks make sense, like after a Sweeps month, or if there’s some sort of event that essentially causes the show to be pre-empted. But actually, some of the most irritating breaks are when we get one episode after a break, and then the show goes on a break again (HIMYM, Big Bang Theory, I love you but please stop doing this). For one thing, it makes following when a new episode airs quite difficult, and it’s just annoying. If you’re gonna air new episodes, at least do so for a month before you decide to take 2-3 weeks off. Although in fairness, I know I’m blaming the shows when really it’s the network scheduling that sucks.

On the other hand, some of the networks choose to hold a show until mid-season (roughly January) and air all episodes straight through to May (a choice ABC made, I believe a few times for Lost). Let’s not also forget the shows on cable networks (HBO, Showtime, USA, etc.) which tend to have shorter seasons, in comparison to the majors (we’re looking at maybe 10-12 episodes a season). Obviously the good thing is that we get new episodes every week (barring any holidays or special events that might get in the way) for however many episodes there are in the season. But the obvious setback is that we’d then have to wait anywhere between 3-9 months before the next season. I mean, I look at a show like Covert Affairs, which premiered last summer on the USA network. I followed it online of course, because there was no channel in Canada airing it at the time. Jump to beginning of this year and Showcase finally started airing the show, and my brother gets all excited about a new episode, while I burst his bubble saying I’ve already watched and am waiting for the new season to start (you know, once they actually start shooting , which I believe was this week back in Toronto!) [Holy run on sentence lol]

Anyways, the point of the matter is, breaks suck. Shows and networks can never win in pleasing fans with this matter. We can get one show spread out over 9 months, or we get another show every week for 3 months. Actually, come to think of it, it’s kind of nice to have the major networks with their typical season and cable network with their atypical season, airing pretty much whenever they want to. I mean let’s be real, summer sucks for the broadcast networks (except for So You Think You Can Dance and Hell’s Kitchen, of course!) So it’s nice to have something to watch (albeit online for me because I live in Canada) over the summer months.

Now I’m pretty sure I lost my point of what I was trying to say. Let’s leave at this: March has been pretty dismal with all these reruns, which is forcing me to watch Idol, and I’m trying not to care about it this season (I’m failing miserably with that last part). I just want all my shows back on the air.