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October 25, 2007



In the future, after we ditch cable networks and go to a cheaper version of the iTunes format, tv shows will be as long or short as they need to be. Viva La Revolucion.

Tommy Williams

I have been reading your blog for a few months now and I enjoy your writing (I'm still reading, after all) but I am discovering that my opinion of TV shows is different than yours.I loved the hour-long episodes of the Office. Towards the end of last season, the show felt stilted or just floating in the doldrums a bit to me but the hour-long episodes that started this season let them expand the characters and build some real richness into the story. I was disappointed when last night's episode was just thirty minutes: I laughed and enjoyed it, but it seemed diminished.If I am rational about it, this tells me that I don't understand TV very well (see Scott Adams's post "Gifted or Defective": http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/09/gifted-or-defec.html).But humans are rarely rational so I will continue to remember those hour-long episodes pleasantly *and* I will continue to read and enjoy your writing here.


Well, I disagree with van. I thought last night's half hour was excellent, with many classic lines and nice, warm (if unlikely) ending. And I disagree with tommy, too. The hour-longs felt padded, and I simply didn't laugh as much either. If NBC wanted an hour of The Office (presumably because they didn't have a solid new half hour series ready for air) why didn't they just let the producers make self-contained half-hours as usual and show 2 of them back-to-back? It might still have been too much of a good thing, but at least it wouldn't have had that padded feeling.


I agree with Ken -- hour-long episodes of The Office were getting painful to watch. I was seriously considering not watching it anymore.I don't think it's necessarily a sitcom constraint (though it might be). In the case of The Office, much of the humor is gained from Michael humiliating himself. 30-40 minutes seems about the right length for that. In the hour-longs, (for me) it just became painful to watch.


First rule of showbiz: Always leave 'em wanting more. b


Your comments are interesting, Ken, since in my radio days I always found 45 seconds to be the optimal length for spots and promos.Actually, 15-seconds worked well, too, because by the time you've hammered it down that far, it's usually a lean, focussed bit of radio.For some reason the 30's and 60's never worked for me, always feeling rushed or padded.Someone should do a study on this. :-)


Whatever shut up. An hour is just fine. Some people just like to find something wrong with everything.


I thought the season opener of TO was hysterical. I couldn't believe how the writers could sustain (what's the true running time? 45 min) that much hilarity but they pulled it off in spades.


Slate.com recently posted an article about how The Office is experiencing its first bad season. I have to say, I'm not seeing it. While I don't think any of the shows this season have been as good as their best episodes, I still think the hour longs have been fairly strong.And I say this as, seemingly, the only person who thought The Sopranos got boring.


I guess the BBC has more freedom in that it doesn't have to sell ad time, but there's something enlightened about letting a sitcom clock in at 28 minutes one week, and 35 minutes the next. Almost like the story its trying to tell is more important than the block of time it's supposed to fill.Of course, I've never heard of one rich British tv writer, so screw the limeys.


I personally felt that the recent return to the well-known half hour format marked the return of the Office. The one hour attempts at comedic genius fell short. At least once we had regained the 20 minute portrayl, it seems as if the writers now know what to do with themselves.The one-hour episodes are simply too much of a strugle, and probably a foreign concept to the writers of the show.

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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