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Attention TV Networks


I want more Harper's Island.

No, not more of that particular show, but more like it.

Quick primer for the uninformed: Harper's Island was a Mystery/Suspense series that just finished airing on CBS. Imagine your favorite slasher movies, but 13 hours long. Yup, the show lasted one season, 13 episodes, and was done. However, unlike many series on TV, this was PLANNED.

Planning for a set number of episodes allowed this show to flourish. The writers knew how much time they were dealing with, and could pace the plot points, clues and reveals expertly.

There is not enough of this on TV today. Networks think of serials as big ratings, and want to drag them out as long as possible. In the end, the viewers suffer.

Look no further than Twin Peaks, one of the best shows of the 90s. Serialized dramas ALWAYS lose viewers as they go along. If you miss one or two episodes, you're lost. Many viewers these days will just wait for the DVDs in this situation, so as time passes, viewership will always decline from premiere to finale. Back in the 90s, Twin Peaks, did not have the luxury of a quick home release, and quickly declined. This led to the network jumping the shark and revealing the central mystery of the show halfway through the second season. Of course, this left viewers with little to no reason to watch, and that was the end of the show. The writers never got the time to tell the stories they wanted, and the fans missed out.

How about Lost? The first season was a spectacular hit. ABC said, "Keep writing!" At this point, the writers realized they would have to stretch out their intended story to fill an undetermined number of episodes. The second season, and most of the third, suffered because of this. The writers floundered, introducing random characters and plot threads that may NEVER lead to anything, just to fill time while slowly advancing the overall plot. At this point, ABC stepped up and made a deal to set an ending date and number of episodes. From there, the show took off again. With a goal in mind, the writers have returned the show to the fast-paced mystery it started as.

Next up, Prison Break. Prison Break was originally conceived as a 2-season show, and it was awesome... For 1 1/2 seasons. Then, FOX asked the writers to extend the ratings juggernaut for another season. And another. A show that started off as a fun ride eventually ran out of steam. I completely gave up early in the fourth (and final) season.

Where will Heroes go? Will it be Twin Peaks or Lost? Unfortunately, it seems to be the former, having lost all the momentum it had coming out of its amazing first season. The second season was almost forgivable due to the writers strike, but the third season jumped back and forth from awesome to tiring. I will most likely not be tuning in for season 4.

So, please, TV Networks, give us more shows like Harper's Island! Would you rather have amazing ratings for one year, then a massive slump for one long-running series, or consistent ratings for a well-written, well-paced collection of series?


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