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November 11 2010

ABC orders two more 'Castle' episodes. Ups the third season total to 24 episodes.

More "Castle" is always a good thing.
I'm not unglad.
Wow, American TV shows have such long seasons! I'm happy to get 6 episodes of shows here in Britain!!! I figured 22 was enough. But, hey, as long as they're good episodes, that's happy :D

You Brits have such short little seasons! Imagine my dismay when I found out that the new Doctor Who series was only 12-13 episodes a season. Way way too short.

BUT, and I should emphasize this, BUT, in Britain the miniseries is doing well and I wonder if I would prefer a miniseries to the type of long series we have here. I prefer a season 4 Angel-like storyline, that's interconnected and part of a planned whole. Fringe is managing to do that right now with the 22 season thing, but there aren't that many others.

I want my TV to be more like a novel, darn it.
10-13 episodes is generally where its at for most writers it seems, both sides of the pond. The fact that Dr. Who has filler/less-than-great episodes does miff me a bit because of that. They have like, the entire year to write for these things and the fact that America does it so consistently makes me a bit disappointed. I can forgive some bad episodes when your chugging out 24 a year, not otherwise, really.

/rant. :p

Yay for more Castle! I'm watching (and loving) it on 'alibi' over here.
They are pumping out Castle at a pretty high rate. The first episode aired March 9, 2009. That's 42 new episodes aired in less than 20 months, with 16 more to come by May.

It's hard to imagine the cast having time for much else.
They are pumping out Castle at a pretty high rate. The first episode aired March 9, 2009

True, but IIRC they started shooting in October or November 2008 like most mid season shows, so they'd been done by March and didn't start again for season 2 until July. But yes like most 1 hour dramas they don't get too much time for anything else.
KS and Heavs, that is the exact reason why Nathan hasn't been and won't be cast in any high profile movies. *coughAvengerscough* He works insane hours on Castle and simply doesn't have the time.
12 episodes for a British series is absolutely not the norm - normally you do 6 at most. Also normally that's all you ever make, unless they bring you back or another series or two with 6 more eps each. Things like Dr Who are the exception.
Not "at most" maybe (i.e. 6 or 8 is way more common than less than 6) but yep, 13 (as with Who or 'Torchwood') is an unusually long "season" for a UK show (never really bothered to try to find out but i've always assumed that number was decided on with one eye on the international market - doubt it's pure coincidence that that happens to be a US "half-season" for instance) and even highly successful shows often only do 2 or 3 series and then stop.

It's partly because we don't really use the writers room system that's SOP in the US and maybe also because British actors seem happier to bounce around more than's the norm in America (from TV to stage to films etc.), doing a job for a couple of years then moving on seems more accepted over here. Not casting aspersions in any way but for actors in the US it seems more like once you get a steady gig you hang on for dear life to the bitter end (and who can blame them).

Well, yes, but from a me point of view 12 episodes is half a season. ;) It's season 1.0 and season 1.5, and all of that.

I'm very glad they made that many of the show and I'm in love with it (a very recent convert) and I'm glad they're taking a more 'American' approach to it.

But like I said, the way it works over there seems to be more like miniseries, which I would probably personally appreciate as long as the miniseries are planned out and telling a cohesive story.
@saje - it's mostly financial. The BBC (and ITV) pay very poorly compared to the US, and they also front far less money so you get far less produced episodes. I'd imagine Nathan earns more per episode than the entire budget for a UK series - that's US broadcast, for you. Oddly enough the Tenant Dr Who creative team (including Tenant) left for LA.

Just to address the hanging on for dear life thing - some US actors (note: not saying Nathan) get stuck on shows they hate as they're contracted to them for the long haul, so they end up being dicks to try to be released from shows. That's the shitter side of the biz.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-11-13 00:33 ]
Of course, isn't it true that British tv episodes tend to run longer in their timeslots than U.S. ones due to there being vastly different business models at play?
6? 12? 24? Pffft!

In Australia we used to have t.v. shows that would air all year. Usually producing around 40 episodes each season. But that seems to have gone bye-bye in recent years, probably due to rising costs and declining ratings, to the more traditional 22 episode U.S. system.
S'true of some stuff here (soaps etc. - 'Eastenders' is on for about 400 hours a week for instance. Feels like anyway ;) but not scripted drama.

Of course, isn't it true that British tv episodes tend to run longer in their timeslots than U.S. ones due to there being vastly different business models at play?

Yeah, partly cos of the BBC (i.e. because they don't have adverts it acts as a bulwark against the "runaway commercial breaks" effect) and partly because our TV seems to be more highly regulated than in the US (i.e. Ofcom - the communications regulatory body - limits the amount of adverts in any given TV hour so that we have something like 8-10 minutes per hour rather than the standard 18 minutes on US networks). This is due to Communism (we also hate puppies).

So an hour show on the BBC is about 57+ minutes (allowing time for credits, continuity announcements and trailers/other promotional stuff) compared to around 42 minutes on a US network. Even on ITV/Channel 4 (commercial channels) it's around the 50 minute mark (Sky1 - a satellite/cable channel - shows US "hour" shows in an hour slot though, as per the US).

The BBC (and ITV) pay very poorly compared to the US, and they also front far less money so you get far less produced episodes. I'd imagine Nathan earns more per episode than the entire budget for a UK series - that's US broadcast, for you.

Well, I really doubt that, bit of an exaggeration there gossi, certainly where scripted drama's concerned (the BBC for instance spends about 700,000 an hour for an 8 episode drama programme like e.g. 'Spooks' - if Nathan's earning ~ 5.6 million for each episode of 'Castle' then more power to him but, y'know, he isn't, nothing like it ;) - and up to 1 million an hour for a real 'flagship' big event show) but yeah, clearly there's way more money in the US (until recently that was abundantly obvious just from looking at the production values of the shows themselves) and sure, a lot of folk go from here to try to make the big bucks there, can't blame them.

I'm also not sure the fewer produced episodes thing is purely down to less money either - our TV dramas are entirely filmed ahead of broadcast which means you really are fronting the money i.e. spending it without any idea of how the show will do so it's maybe partly to do with lessening risk (which, fair enough, I suppose translates to money at the end of the day). Added to that, as I say, the "single vision" thing is represented by a showrunner in America whereas over here it's more represented by one or a few writers writing every script in a series which makes it nigh impossible to produce 24 episodes a year (jebus knows how JMS did it). In other words, our entire system just isn't geared towards that sort of scale.
Happy news. Only I'm still waiting for season 3 to air here.

This is due to Communism (we also hate puppies).

Hee! But fair point, I couldn't decide whether fewer adverts would be better than the standard 22 episodes. Not that it matters so much - most everything I watch I access online.
That being said, Waterloo Road still often gets its 20 episode season.
Saje, Spooks is far into its run, its sold all over the world, it's on BBC One at primetime and - you know - it features explosions. Most British drama productions have none of that, and so the budgets for things here are nowhere near 700k an episode. In fact, I think the example you've used is the highest budgetted UK drama budget ever. Take the pay of one of the NCIS:LA actors, and that's more budget than the entire of something like 'Misfits' series one. That's not a slate on how much the NCIS:LA actors earn - that's me slagging off UK drama budgets.
I'm not saying you're slating anything gossi (if the money's there to spend then spend it, if not then clearly you can't - to me it's basically value neutral). I'm not even broadly disagreeing with you (the entire BBC drama budget is something like 300 million per annum to produce maybe, what, 1500+ hours of programming across all the channels ? Or about the cost of what, 10 US drama series ? So clearly a lot less). I'm just querying the specifics.

'Spooks' is among the most expensive but it's not top of the line for a premium drama budget wise (sure it has explosions but it also has existing sets as well as a lot of filming in and around London and the home counties i.e. about the cheapest locations a BBC southern region drama can film in) - link that talks about budgets. Most commentators seem to think e.g. 'Doctor Who' costs around 8-10 million per series and as I say above, a really big "event" drama (maybe a one-off or mini-series) on the BBC could run as high as 900,000 to 1 million per hour. Which is still short of the US standard of around $2-3 million per US network drama "hour" (i.e. 42 minutes) and it'd still be better if it were more but, y'know, it's our money so if we want it to be more we have to cough up (and a lot of people already piss and moan about the cost of the licence fee as it is). Or if you want more spent on commercial TV then you put up with adverts for 18+ minutes of every hour. Basically, we can't compete with the US on a level footing and we're fools to try IMO, both styles have merits.

And 'Misfits' is/was a new series with more or less unknown (and young) actors, a cast of 8-10 people per episode (5 of whom are the regulars), minimal special effects, largely filmed on and around the same set/location each week running for 6 episodes per series. Hell, even the "costumes" are mainly orange young offender boiler suits which run to about a fiver a pop - if it cost more than 5 million i'd be astonished (and bet it's closer to or below 2 million) so I could well believe that's less than an 'NCIS: LA' actor's yearly salary (for 24 episodes i.e. 9 months work).
Whoo-hoo! Go Castle!
@VeryVeryCrowded (sorry for the late reply) Yes, we have short seasons. I prefer this. Instead of getting 22 episodes, 10 of which are good and 12 of which are rushed, produced poorly, acted poorly, etc (with the inevitable clip show), we get 6,8, 10 or 13 episodes that are grand. Look at something like (the real) Life on Mars. Sure we only got 16 episodes, but not one episode was bad. Most US shows that go on for 2 years go wrong somewhere.

I'd take something like Firefly or Life on Mars - shows that didn't go on for 6 years, rather than watch a brilliant show go downhill. Battlestar Galactica remake, for example, brilliant out of the gate - everything about it for the first year and a half were brilliant. Then they had 13 episodes out of the 22 for second series - some of those (Scar, Black Market, Epiphanies) were absolutely terrible and did more damage to the show than having just 13 good solid episodes.

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