TV Series Finales: Maybe There's More

When does a TV series really end?


ABC says this is the final season of "Lost" -- and from all the plain-speaking marketing, that's what we are led to believe.

Yet, just about the time of the critics tour, there was inside talk that said Disney/ABC was thinking about "Lost" the same way Paramount thinks about "Star Trek," or how Warner Bros. thinks about "Sex in the City," or maybe even how someone will feel about "The Sopranos."

Whether it's good or bad, fans have a hankering for what's familiar. Business guys can't help themselves. They start using the word "franchise," and unfortunately, any shred of the word "art" disappears from the lexicon.

Conan said goodbye. But we know he didn't mean it. Jay did too - now twice fired, actually. Yet he lives again.



Brett Favre has talked final seasons for, well... a number of seasons. How many "finales" can any TV show, film, or entertainment property really have?

As many as consumers want, apparently. TV viewers/film-goers get pulled into this whirlpool - willingly.

Some entertainment departs because producers -- who have already made tens of millions of dollars -- now want to put it to rest, and move on to other things. It's an artistic, not usually a business decision.

Then, of course, plans for a new modern-day family law series based on "King Lear" doesn't work out. So they'll reconsider their wildly successful and trite family drama headed up by that crazy sportswriter matriarch.

What will future finales be like? I'm guessing in the year 2020, look for "Heroes" on Syfy, or "Desperate Housewives" on Lifetime. We've already had a taste of this -- a "Seinfeld" reunion on HBO, through the lens of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

In the world of TV, stuff hangs on like lint: You've picked everything off carefully while dressing, only to find some hanging from your sock during a big business meeting.

1 comment about "TV Series Finales: Maybe There's More".
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  1. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, February 2, 2010 at 11:43 a.m.

    I think your prediction for 2020 doesn't go far enough. You're still thinking that the networks will be the funnel through which all television programming will go. I disagree.

    I think technology is converging to allow television to be sold on the subscription model, like magazines. There may still be networks, but shows will increasingly be marketed directly to viewers via home delivery services (think Netflix on Demand or iTunes).

    How many subscribers does it take to pay 100% of the production costs for a cult show like Dollhouse, Jericho or Battlestar Galactica? Figure about a million or so.

    Currently, TV shows are selling for $1.99 each -- and that's for reruns of content that's already available for free. Is it inconceivable that a million people would pay $2.99 for an hour of original television? Or less, if the hour includes embedded commercials? I don't think so.

    Already, record labels are all but obsolete, as digital purchases on Amazon and iTunes eliminate the production and distribution chokeholds the labels once controlled. Television networks and movie studios are about to lose control of their distribution monopolies, too.

    As a consumer, forced to have some of my favorite shows cancelled before their time, I can't wait.

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