Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Networks build drama, ratings with ‘diva’ model

By
From page A7 | March 20, 2014 |

By Mary Mcnamara

Los Angeles Times

Diva Rule No. 1: Know how to make a big entrance. Diva Rule No. 2: Know how to make a big exit. Diva Rule No. 3: Do these things as often as humanly possible.

The return earlier this month of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” marked the end of the midseason premieres. By the end of the month, the premieres of the midseason replacements should also have concluded, giving us a few weeks of “normal” viewing before the actual season finales begin.

If you’re confused about the difference between a midseason premiere and a midseason replacement premiere, the answer is increasingly “not much.” Technically, a midseason replacement is a brand new series held from the fall lineup to be debuted after the first of the year. But with all the pomp and publicity surrounding the return of fall shows from the winter hiatus, they might just as well be new shows.

Certainly, the writers are happy to hit the reset button, often using the opportunity to shift narrative focus and tone. Instead of a broadcast season of about 22 episodes and a cable one that is roughly half that, viewers these days are often being served up two miniseasons – a change in both form and function that amps up TV’s already high diva quotient.

The winter hiatus has always been with us. But now, with TV’s newfound star status and the Internet-driven demand for recapping, it isn’t surprising that networks have turned this once irritating necessity into a full-blown marketing event.

Where once a series might produce a “special” holiday episode before slipping quietly into reruns from mid-December to January, it has now become de rigueur to double-down on drama with midseason finales and premieres. All of which results in the sort of hypnotic roller-coaster relationship many of us have spent years in therapy learning how to avoid.

Love me? I need some alone time. Miss me? I’m back, but it’s only a few weeks to finale, when I will possibly kill off another beloved character.

In the Dec. 1 midseason finale of “The Walking Dead,” for example, virtually every major character either wound up dead (Can we ever forgive Hershel’s death? Discuss.) or missing in action (Should infants be used in such a manner? Discuss.). Fans had to wait until Feb. 9 to find out who exactly survived and / or where they ended up.

And it isn’t just established shows that now gleefully manufacture major midseason crises to keep viewers hooked. NBC’s “The Blacklist” was just a few months old when its lead character, Red (James Spader), was abducted from the FBI and then escaped, allowing that show’s midseason premiere to promo the tagline “He’s back.”

Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) also went missing in the midseason finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – the follow-up midseason premiere “finally” explained how a character could die in a movie and be resurrected on a TV show.

Meanwhile, Fox made fans of its 13-episode sleeper hit “Sleepy Hollow” wait almost a month between the revelations of Episode 10 (Ichabod will sell Abby’s soul!) and Episode 11(He swears he won’t!) before airing the remaining two as a double-hour finale a week later. So, a premiere and a finale within a week of each other?

Because a resurrected Colonial soldier and the four horsemen of the apocalypse aren’t dramatic enough.

The new “diva” model seems to be working. Media outlets, including this one, dutifully drum up anticipation for midseason farewells and returns, while fans use the time between one and the other to speculate via social media on the shocks and reassurances that await them.

“The Walking Dead’s” midseason premiere drew almost 16 million viewers and beat even the Winter Olympics in the coveted 18-49 demo. Even ABC’s “Scandal,” which had hit a ratings plateau, saw a sizable bump for its midseason finale.

But this choreographed season interruptus is changing the very nature of television. A season bifurcated by a finale and a premiere requires two sets of climaxes, and subsequently two episodes designed specifically to hook the audience. Which sounds and increasingly plays like two separate seasons.

For shows on the Big Four networks, this seems like a natural and welcome development. As the Emmys race makes abundantly clear, the 22-episode broadcast network show has a difficult time competing against its sleeker nine- to 12-episode cable counterparts for artistic cred, a coin that has become almost as valuable as audience size.

Although the writers rooms must still valiantly produce those 22 episodes, it’s easier to tell compelling uber-narratives when the season is sliced in half.

And during the holiday doldrums, when everyone is presumably too busy DVR-ing “It’s a Wonderful Life” to keep up with CBS’ “The Good Wife,” much less darker dramas like “The Walking Dead,” it seems natural to leverage the form for the function.

Shows like “Walking Dead,” meanwhile, are chopping narrative into even smaller portions – AMC’s “Breaking Bad” strung its “final season” out for two years; the network’s “Mad Men” is poised to do likewise.

These prestige divas offer the limited-edition feel of BBC productions like “Sherlock,” airing in the U.S. on PBS, or BBC America’s “Luther,” which air in trilogies or quartets and prove that absence can indeed make the viewer heart grow fonder. Or at least more obsessive.

What defines this new age of syncopated television is neither the technology nor the quality. It’s the variety. Stories come in all shapes and sizes now, unlike the traditional mold, where television was committed to either the short-short (the television movie) or the serial (the open-ended series).

New and multiple platforms may be a headache for chief financial officers everywhere, but they are catnip for writers, directors and actors who now have the freedom to experiment in a way that hasn’t been allowed since TV’s earliest days.

The increasingly lush biosphere created first by premium cable (“Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos”) and then basic cable (“Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad”) is now ablaze with tonal poems like “Rectify,” brilliant oddities like “Getting On” and irregular bloomers like “Sherlock.”

Once the most important season in the TV year, fall, though still chockablock with new shows, is slowly losing its grip. Series debut year ‘round now, and even those that begin in the fall regularly renew their vows come winter.

Los Angeles Times

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Supervisors hear suggestions for vacant county property

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield police investigate shooting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Library schedules soap-making program

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police offer free gun locks

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    Science comes to libraries – for all to see

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

    Soroptimists seek award applicants

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

     
     
    Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

    Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

    .

    US / World

    Grand jury focused on key fatal Ferguson ‘tussle’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Tough to make a case against police in shootings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Official: Afghan president orders military review

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Opinion

    Hagel: The fall guy

    By David Rothkopf | From Page: A8

     
    Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

    By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

     
    Eggs make all the difference in mashed potatoes

    By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

    Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    ‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Messi sets European record with 74 goals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Business

    US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5