short-run tv icons

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short-run tv icons

Postby molly1216 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:11 am

The american who done it thread got me to thinking of shows that were born and died in the blink of an eye in TV terms but have established themselves as Iconic in only a few episodes...shows great or not so great but seem to have a larger foothold in our memory than they really occupied on the air.

I am not talking about ROOTS/Rich Man Poor man type of big budget spectacles but the Ten Speeds and Brown Shoes of the tv world.

Firefly 2002 (14 episodes)
Freaks and Geeks 1999 (18 episodes)
Banacek w Peppard 1972 - 16 episodes
Adventures Ellery Queen with Jim Hutton 1975 (23 episodes)
Greenwalt & Cannell's Profit 1996 (8 episodes)
Wonderfalls 2004 (13 episodes)
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe 1980 (14 episodes)

i am trying to think back even further than shows cancelled by FOX
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Dunnyman » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:30 am

Police Squad How often does a show that only lasted six episodes spawn 3 movies?
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Burson_Fouch » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:05 pm

The Honeymooners only broadcast 39 episodes from 55-56. Although, Gleason did periodically broadcast specials over the next 20 years or so.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby molly1216 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:17 pm

Burson_Fouch wrote:The Honeymooners only broadcast 39 episodes from 55-56. Although, Gleason did periodically broadcast specials over the next 20 years or so.

I didn't ACTUALLY believe you..i had to look that up...i am SHOCKED. it holds a place in our collective equal to I Love Lucy but it had no where near the exposure...good call.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Steve T Power » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:26 pm

Spaced - After only 14 episodes it was all over, and left me sad, depressed, and alone. I wanted so desperately to keep following these characters, even now, when I sit to watch Shaun of the Dead, or Hot Fuzz, or Paul, I don't see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I see Tim and Mike, and I wonder where the hell Daisy, Brian, and Marsha are...
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Burson_Fouch » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:56 pm

molly1216 wrote:
Burson_Fouch wrote:The Honeymooners only broadcast 39 episodes from 55-56. Although, Gleason did periodically broadcast specials over the next 20 years or so.

I didn't ACTUALLY believe you..i had to look that up...i am SHOCKED. it holds a place in our collective equal to I Love Lucy but it had no where near the exposure...good call.


I was pretty shocked when I discovered it. TH'rs is the base template for the edgy blue-collar sitcom that was passed along to Norman Lear, Roseanne, etc. etc. but it barely lasted two seasons in it's original run. It lost out in a ratings war with The Perry Comotose Show of all things.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Dan Mancini » Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:24 pm

Kolchak: Two TV movies and 20 episodes -- not nearly enough.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby HGervais » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:39 pm

It's almost not fair to mention British TV shows since their model is so much different that ours but it is also hard not to mention Fawlty Towers and the miniscule 12 episodes it produced.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Polynikes » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:58 pm

HGervais wrote:It's almost not fair to mention British TV shows since their model is so much different that ours but it is also hard not to mention Fawlty Towers and the miniscule 12 episodes it produced.


We have discussed this before. I have always been impressed by the way writing teams in the USA maintain a high standard of comedy writing over many episodes and series (e.g. Frazier), but inevitably there are peaks and troughs. I think it is impossible to sustain brilliance over more than a maximum of 12 episodes, which is one reason why John Cleese and Connie Booth refused to do more Fawlty Towers. This stance has been followed by others who have written successful comedies (e.g. The Office. On the other hand, John Sullivan had enormous success with Only Fools and Horses for over 20 years, so British TV sometime goes down the same route as Americans in this regard . I guess it depends whether you are aiming for your comedy to have a long life at a consistently high standard, or a short life of sheer brilliance. The latter is hard work too - Cleese and Booth said that it took them an average of six weeks or so to write each episode.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby mkiker2089 » Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:24 pm

With the British shows a Series doesn't always mean a year either. It can get confusing. Top Gear and Fifth gear both have two series per year which puts their average a little closer to normal. Top Gear also plays with the number of episodes per series almost at random but adds a movie almost every season where as Fifth Gear seems to be a set 20 episodes a year in two series runs.

Then there are shows like Red Dwarf which made new series pretty much whenever they could get funding. Actually it's stretching it but I would consider RD to be short lived compared to how many years it's been on. It's been 23 years and 55 episodes. That's about 2.4 episodes a year or around 75 minutes per year depending on how you want to look at it.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby jcankerhuxley » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:52 pm

HGervais wrote:It's almost not fair to mention British TV shows since their model is so much different that ours but it is also hard not to mention Fawlty Towers and the miniscule 12 episodes it produced.


then the one exception to that argument is Mr. Bean. Although there were only 14 episodes, it spawned two movies and a cartoon series. Unlike many of its counterparts, it is something that is aired in just about every corner of the world because has very little spoken language.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby HGervais » Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:20 pm

Shows like Frazier or Cheers or The Mary Tyler Moore are the exceptions, not the rule. They stand out but the vast majority of shows simply run out of material or the characters aren't that well conceived and after 10 or 20 episodes, things start to run flat. And yes, there are shows like Only Fools and Horses on the UK side that have run for 20+ years but they are still only doing 8 or so episodes a series and on top of that some series will be away a year or longer before returning. The whole model is very different, and I think much more effective generally speaking. It's also the model that cable channels such as HBO, F/X or AMC have followed in large part to such great success.
Polynikes wrote:We have discussed this before. I have always been impressed by the way writing teams in the USA maintain a high standard of comedy writing over many episodes and series (e.g. Frazier), but inevitably there are peaks and troughs. I think it is impossible to sustain brilliance over more than a maximum of 12 episodes, which is one reason why John Cleese and Connie Booth refused to do more Fawlty Towers. This stance has been followed by others who have written successful comedies (e.g. The Office. On the other hand, John Sullivan had enormous success with Only Fools and Horses for over 20 years, so British TV sometime goes down the same route as Americans in this regard . I guess it depends whether you are aiming for your comedy to have a long life at a consistently high standard, or a short life of sheer brilliance. The latter is hard work too - Cleese and Booth said that it took them an average of six weeks or so to write each episode.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Polynikes » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:42 am

molly1216 wrote:Banacek w Peppard 1972 - 16 episodes


That was a surprising statistic, Molly. My late father really enjoyed light American detective dramas in the Seventies, and if you asked me to name what I watched on weekend evenings as a child/young teenager, Columbo would have been my first thought, but I would have put Banacek alongside The Rockford Files, Kojak and Cannon.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Burson_Fouch » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:39 pm

Polynikes wrote:
molly1216 wrote:Banacek w Peppard 1972 - 16 episodes


That was a surprising statistic, Molly. My late father really enjoyed light American detective dramas in the Seventies, and if you asked me to name what I watched on weekend evenings as a child/young teenager, Columbo would have been my first thought, but I would have put Banacek alongside The Rockford Files, Kojak and Cannon.


Banachek was part of the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie umbrella, so those 16 episodes occurred over two full seasons in the mid-seventies. It was easily the most memorable of the Wednesday shows, though not nearly as successful long-term as the Sunday Night shows like Columbo, McCloud or MacMillan and Wife.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Polynikes » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:15 pm

Burson_Fouch wrote:
Banachek was part of the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie umbrella, so those 16 episodes occurred over two full seasons in the mid-seventies. It was easily the most memorable of the Wednesday shows, though not nearly as successful long-term as the Sunday Night shows like Columbo, McCloud or MacMillan and Wife.


McCloud and MacMillan and Wife! How could I have forgotten those? Two more staple Sunday evening offerings on ITV. My far from feminist Mum used to feign annoyance at the sexism of the title - at least I think her annoyance was feigned......
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Kenneth Morgan » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:34 pm

It seems to me "The Prisoner" would fit this idea. Less than 20 episodes (17, if I remember correctly), yet it's regularly listed among the best TV shows ever produced on either side of the Atlantic. On the other hand, unlike other shows listed here, "The Prisoner" was specifically planned to only run for one season, with even less episodes than were ultimately produced. In that respect, I suppose you could classify it more as a "mini-series" than a "series". Or maybe I'm just nitpicking.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby molly1216 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:21 pm

Kenneth Morgan wrote:It seems to me "The Prisoner" would fit this idea. Less than 20 episodes (17, if I remember correctly), yet it's regularly listed among the best TV shows ever produced on either side of the Atlantic. On the other hand, unlike other shows listed here, "The Prisoner" was specifically planned to only run for one season, with even less episodes than were ultimately produced. In that respect, I suppose you could classify it more as a "mini-series" than a "series". Or maybe I'm just nitpicking.

nope that works fine..
what i was shopping for is stuff that did exist for too long but left a huge impact on our consciousness
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Paul Kile » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:10 am

Here's a recent one - Rubicon

I think that one was axed because it was too cerebral - you had to spend time actually thinking about what was going on. Anyway, my wife and I were hooked after two episodes.

And although it doesn't fit into the short run category, anyone else royally pi$$ed about Eureka? At least they are giving it one more season plus one episode to wrap up before consigning it to the scrap heap.
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Re: short-run tv icons

Postby Jim_Thomas » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:51 am

Paul Kile wrote:And although it doesn't fit into the short run category, anyone else royally pi$$ed about Eureka? At least they are giving it one more season plus one episode to wrap up before consigning it to the scrap heap.
Eureka's had a good run, so it doesn't bother me too much.
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