The word "hiatus" has always been dreaded in the TV world, mainly because it was usually a euphemism for eventual cancellation. Things are changing, though, in network TV's strategy in order to squeeze in other shows and provide breathing room. NBC, especially, seems to be taking an unusual turn this season in temporarily dropping two of their most popular shows before the end of the year.
You likely won't be seeing a special holiday episode this year from NBC's "Revolution," which is going on hiatus starting Nov. 26. This isn't to say it wouldn't have been fun to see how "Revolution" managed a Christmas-themed episode within a world without electricity. The same goes for "The Voice" (starting hiatus Dec. 17), where a histrionic singing showdown of Christmas carols would have likely wielded a generous ratings gift.
Instead, both shows will go into some kind of suspended animation until early spring while NBC schedules other shows that likely won't do half as well. While that might sound wrong in the abstract, the general concept of a hiatus isn't all that bad. The only thing worry about in taming such an idea is how long of a hiatus do you need in order to keep audiences interested?
Nearly 25 years ago, NBC made one of their worst decisions with a hiatus during a time when airing miniseries events were still a sweeps necessity. When the bloated miniseries "War and Remembrance" (the sequel to "The Winds of War") aired on the peacock network, execs divided the series into halves. The second half aired more than six months later in the spring of 1989 after ratings gold with the first half in November of 1988.
Back then, America was already showing early pangs of ADD; it was easy to forget something on TV aired just weeks earlier. Regardless, none of the mainstream networks dared place a regular series on hiatus unless they intended to cancel it within weeks, days, or hours. Executives today figure that extended previews during hiatuses will keep people satiated for when those shows resume.
If NBC sets a precedent for hiatuses, what will other networks do in making their shows more appreciated? We already have fewer episode counts compared to networks once ordering double these amounts in a single season. But, arguably, "The Voice" and "Revolution" have considerably repetitive and convoluted concepts that could easily burn out audiences in the short term.
The word "hiatus" may ultimately attain a new definition of appeasing those who tire of shows with little variation. Although it may only be a subtle message from NBC that when Thanksgiving comes, audiences should give thanks to the suits for providing shows many people are finally interested in watching.
- Arts & Entertainment