Do you remember a time when television seasons were actual a full thirteen episodes instead of six? When you didn’t have to wait for the “summer season” six months later? I do. And to be honest, I’m frustrated on many different levels.

But in order to explain, I need to go back a couple of years. In 2007 the Writers Guilds Of America (both East and West) declared a strike against corporations like CBS, MGM and others. I could get into a lot of jargon but the meat of the problem was that writers’ salaries were being lowered while corporation’s profit margins were increasing. One key issue was the arrangement of profit on the blossoming DVD market, and the definitions of new media like torrents and the legal status of downloading films on the Internet.

As a fellow writer (and one that hopes to make a living off writing), I support these writers who sought to maintain a foothold in the ever-shifting quagmire of monetary equality. As a television fan I am frustrated of the model of distribution that followed. Seasons were no longer spread over 13 episodes but divided into two segments of 6 episodes separated by a space of six months. This is the core of my frustration.

Any drama teacher will tell you that success depends on momentum. The beginning of a tale starts small, then each succeeding segment outdoes the first, and so on and so forth until the finale which takes all the previous material and unites it together in a conclusion that is certain to drop jaws and wrench hearts. It is the basic formula for writing.

The current version of the formula dilutes the impact of the drama by revealing the final, plot-centric suspense too early. For example, the show Doctor Who has had fans eagerly awaiting the truth behind the character of River Song ever since she debuted in 2008. The show featured strategic involvement in the episodes in which Song starred in, adding to the mystery of the character without revealing any hints of who she really was. All of this preparation was to get fans drooling to the moment when the mystery was finally revealed.

Only it wasn’t the season finale. It was the mid-season finale. The penultimate moment was robbed of it’s drama by revealing the truth too soon. It was cut short by episode placement, instead of allowing the mystery to peculate. Now it was, “oh, River song is really (spoilers). Time to move on.” This frustrates me as a writer because it damages the writing formulas set down by the beginning of the written word. And while I’m sure the writers of Doctor Who still have an ace or two up it’s sleeves, I can’t help but think that the truth of River Song would have been more meaningful if revealed as a cliffhanger instead of being a neat little package all tied up with a bow.

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