Just As I Thought

Bemoaning the rerun

So, now the latest Bryan Fuller gem has been axed— Pushing Daisies — and we’re seeing here the results of the new way television works.

So, now the latest Bryan Fuller gem has been axed — Pushing Daisies — and we’re seeing here the results of the new way television works.
Those of you with a few years under your belt will remember how television (in this country, at least) used to work: a series was 26 episodes long and ran year-round. First as new episodes, then over the summer as reruns. Your favorite show was always on at the same time every week, even if it wasn’t a new episode. The audience got used to it.
Now, however, that’s no longer the case. Over the last few years the rerun has disappeared. Shows air once then disappear. The audience doesn’t have time to get used to a show before it moves to another time or another day. Then, the show goes off the air for 9 months and everyone forgets it. This is why shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica have largely lost all their momentum — we haven’t seem them on the air for ages and we’ve even forgotten what happened.
And that’s how Pushing Daisies died. Along with Eli Stone. These shows had something in common: they had a premise that needed a bit of exposition, and new viewers starting off 9 months after the premiere often had no idea what was going on and weren’t invested in the characters.
UK television has been doing this for ages, and it hasn’t been as much of a liability for them. First off, they have two distinct ways of viewing shows: series and serials. Shows like Eastenders are serials, and run constantly. But series — like, say, “The IT Crowd”, are short spurts that appear for only a few weeks a year. Six episodes in many cases, and then gone for 10 months when another 6 appear. They’re events, really. American television doesn’t work that way. We watch far too much of it for that sort of rationing. We want familiarity, we want Thursday at 8, every Thursday.
This is why quirky shows often come from the UK. With only a few episodes at any given time, there’s not as much emphasis on high volume, continuing audiences so the producers can offer more of a treat.
Pushing Daisies was a gorgeous, colorful, sugary treat and to be given one every week then deprived for nearly a year tends to change our tastes.

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