The concept is so old, it pre-dates TV. The idea of a series of programmes set in the same time and place, with the same characters and situation, goes back to the earliest days of radio – nearly a CENTURY ago.
But are its days now numbered?
As with its elder-brother, stage drama, TV drama comes in three parts: Act One; the establishment of time, place, characters and situation – ending with the introduction of the person or factor which will provide the conflict required for drama to occur. Act Two; development. And Act Three; a resolution, involving redemption for the central character(s) while ideally, making a statement about the human condition in a way which is memorable.
Which is fine with one-off TV dramas. However, since with SERIES, the audience is assumed to already be FAMILIAR with the time, place, characters and situation – they can hit the ground running with the CONFLICT. This typically comes before the title sequence and is known in The Business as a Cold Open.
F’rinstance, an episode of “The Avengers” (the classic British ’60s TV series, not the comic book) begins with a close-up of a bloke sleeping peacefully in bed. He wakes, looks around him, begins screaming and screaming – and dies of a heart attack.
The camera then slowly zooms back and we see that his bed is not in a room – but on the Centre Spot at Wembley Stadium.
After the title sequence, Steed and Mrs Peel go on to discover that (the villain) has been killing prominent people by exposing them to their greatest FEARS. In the case of the sleeper, he was agoraphobic.
But here is the thing; whilst for the last nearly HUNDRED years, you had to wait a WEEK (or in the case of a mini-series, at least a DAY) for the next EPISODE – now, thanks to the likes of Netflix, you can binge-watch an entire SEASON in as long as it takes you to WATCH it (in my case, with “House Of Cards” S3 – about five days).
And with the restrictions forced on network TV being gradually UNDERMINED by the phenomenon of downloading, this practice will only increase.
But what effect will this HAVE on the long-established custom of TV series?
Obviously, in the short-term, NONE.
However, as time goes by, it could spell their DOOM and TV drama could revert to those one-offs – with series being but a MEMORY. Discuss.
For more on this, check out… https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/damien-on-the-biggest-tv-event-of-the-year/ and… https://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/cornelius-on-binge-watching-tv/ plus an earlier piece (now partially obselete) resides at… https://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/morpheus-on-true-series-the-future-of-television/