Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Four (Hundred) Seasons

It would be about this time of the year when there was great anticipation.

No, I'm not talking about the start of another school year. I'm talking about the start of a new television season.

It was an annual wave of excitement. All the new shows would debut in September, and the carryovers from past seasons would be back for another go round.

The networks---and by networks I mean ABC, CBS and NBC---got in on the act, producing prime time specials previewing their respective lineups.

The shows' stars would make appearances in these preview shows, dressed in character, speaking of what viewers were to expect.

This is circa the mid-to-late 1970s.

The absolute best, though, was the preview of all the new Saturday morning cartoons.

YAHTZEE!

That was a prime time special, too. As an adolescent who still enjoyed the animated shows, I marveled at all the new cartoons and what they intended to be and how they intended to entertain us.

The TV seasons back in those days were very segmented. You had your fall season, and you had your winter season, and you had your summer replacement shows. That was it. The seasons started in September, January and June-ish.

The new shows were given a starter package of 13 episodes, for the most part. After that, you were either canceled or renewed---for another 13 episodes.

MacLean Stevenson, whose decision to leave M*A*S*H so soon surely must be one of the worst moves any actor has ever made, going back to Shakespeare in the Park in the 17th century, used to have a vanity plate that said 13 WEEKS, because so many of his post-M*A*S*H vehicles were canceled so quickly.

The TV seasons now overlap more than a cache of Venn diagrams.

First, there are so many networks, with cable television all the rage. Second, those networks all have their own ideas of when their seasons should start and stop. The over-the-air networks still have new fall seasons, but shows certainly don't get 13 weeks anymore to prove themselves.

With all these seasons starting at all these different times of the Gregorian Calendar, it's almost impossible to keep track of even your most favorite programs' schedules.

But the definition of "season" is as interpretive as dance.

The Game Show Network debuted a new quiz show called "The Chase," on August 6. The network pumped the show for several weeks before the first episode aired. Then, the show debuted, and my wife and I enjoyed it and looked forward to August 13.

Then, after just four episodes had aired, GSN announced that the September 3 episode would be the "season finale."

After five episodes, they're having a season finale?


Brooke Burns and Mark Labbett of "The Chase"


My wife and I were flabbergasted. To add to our befuddlement, GSN, in its promos hyping the finale, called "The Chase" the game show sensation "of the summer."

Well, yeah, if you acknowledge summer as starting on August 1 and ending on Labor Day.

Turns out "The Chase" is indeed coming back for another "season," which will begin on November 5.

For how long, I have no idea. I hope for more than five episodes.

I'm actually not that much of a TV viewer, aside from sports. So when I find something I like and look forward to seeing the next week, it's just my luck that it's a show with a five-episode season.

By the way, do they still have Saturday morning cartoons?

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