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[06/02/05 - 12:00 AM]
Report: The Long Wait Between Seasons
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

Note: Please don't copy or reproduce this information to other web sites, forums, newsgroups, etc. We've gone through quite the trouble to compile this information and would appreciate being credited with links to this article only. Thanks!

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The return of FOX's "Family Guy" last month marked the end of a three year plus (1,172 days total) drought between new episodes. Fans of the short-lived sci-fi drama "Firefly" will have waited 1,015 days between the end of its run on FOX and its big screen debut this fall. "Farscape" devotees harbored a 576-day respite between the show's fourth season cliffhanger and its mini-series resolution.

In each of these cases there was a very tangible (and very publicized) reason for the delay: all three were canceled and eventually revived in one form or another.

In most cases though, the delay between seasons of a TV series remains a mystery for many viewers. For most of TV's lifespan we've been conditioned to believe that TV shows should start right after Labor Day Weekend (September) and finish right before Memorial Day Weekend (May). That left a window of just a few months (about 120 days) to wait between doses of your favorite TV series.

And for the most part that's still true. However with the rise of original cable programming, the success of various summer series and the overall pressure to compete on a year-round basis, viewers are starting to see a longer wait between TV seasons.

The most overriding reason is simply the economics of television. Cable networks typically can't afford to produce 22 episodes a year of their original projects. The result of this then is a longer gap between seasons. For example, if every year show "X" premiered in January and ran for 13 straight weeks, there will always be a 39-week hiatus between new episodes. That's more than double the length of your typical broadcast network series' summer hiatus.

Some cable networks however are trying to quell this dilemma by splitting their seasons into two smaller parts. Sci Fi's "Stargate SG-1" and USA's "Monk" for example have begun to split their respective 20 and 16-episode seasons by airing half during the summer and half during the winter. This shortens the wait between new episodes to about 20 weeks - still more than your average network series (15-17 weeks) and less than sticking to a once-per-year strategy (37-39 weeks).

Other reasons for delays: to avoid airing low-rated repeats of more serialized shows (as was this case this season for "24" and "Alias"); to preserve their "event" status (as is the case for the enormously successful "American Idol" franchise); or simply "creative reasons" (which seems to be the case for "The Sopranos's" long gaps between episodes).

Overall though, while it may feel like "forever" between episodes, the truth is only a small handful of programs have experienced extreme delays.

According to some extensive research done by the site, only on 30 occasions has a TV series had a delay of over one year between episodes in the past decade. Considering that thousands of seasons of TV shows have aired in that time frame, that's a relatively modest amount.

Here's a breakdown of the 250 longest waits between seasons of a TV series in the past decade based on our research. The numbers in parenthesis denote the seasons between which the gap occurred (if a show split its season into two parts, the season numbers 1.1 and 1.2 are used to differentiate the two).

(Note: Please feel free to let us know about any series we missed!)

1. 1,172 days - Family Guy (3-4)
2. 749 days - Odyssey 5 (1.1-1.2)
3. 665 days - Tough Enough (3-4)*
4. 637 days - The Sopranos (5-6)*
5. 569 days - Project Greenlight (2-3)
6. 560 days - Temptation Island (2-3)
7. 548 days - The Chris Isaak Show (2.2-3)
8. 539 days - Curb Your Enthusiasm (4-5)*
9. 506 days - The Lot (1-2)
10. 497 days - Project Greenlight (1-2)
11. 483 days - The Sopranos (3-4)
12. 478 days - Da Ali G Show (1-2)
13. 456 days - Lexx (1-2)
14. 455 days - The Sopranos (4-5)
15. 449 days - Average Joe (3-4)
16. 448 days - Jeremiah (1-2.1)
17. 439 days - Lexx (3-4.1)
18. 426 days - Tripping the Rift (1-2)
19. 413 days - Curb Your Enthusiasm (3-4)
20. 412 days - Chappelle's Show (2-3)*
21. 410 days - Baby Bob (1-2)
22. 406 days - Carnivale (1-2)
23. 404 days - The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (1-2)
24. 399 days - The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (2-3)
25. 392 days - High School Reunion (1-2)
26. 392 days - The Wire (2-3)
27. 387 days - Ladies Man (1-2)
28. 378 days - Six Feet Under (3-4)
29. 378 days - The PJs (1-2)
30. 368 days - Primetime Glick (2-3)
31. 362 days - Sorority Life (1-2)
32. 357 days - Watching Ellie (1-2)
33. 350 days - Nip/Tuck (2-3)*
34. 349 days - My Life Is a Sitcom (1-2)
35. 349 days - Penn & Teller: Bullshit (1-2.1)
36. 344 days - Family Business (2-3)
37. 344 days - Family Guy (2-3)
38. 343 days - The Shield (2-3)
39. 336 days - Son of the Beach (2-3)
40. 336 days - Tru Calling (1-2)
41. 335 days - Crime & Punishment (2.1-2.2)
42. 330 days - The It Factor (1-2)
43. 329 days - Blow Out (1-2)
44. 329 days - The Bachelorette (1-2)
45. 329 days - The Mole (3-4)
46. 329 days - The Sopranos (2-3)
47. 325 days - The Awful Truth (1-2)
48. 325 days - The Surreal Life (1-2)
49. 320 days - Oz (1-2)
50. 320 days - The Amazing Race (4-5)
51. 319 days - The Bachelorette (2-3)
52. 317 days - Oz (2-3)
53. 317 days - The Real World (1-2)
54. 315 days - NASCAR Drivers: 360 (1-2)
55. 315 days - Oz (3-4.1)
56. 315 days - Oz (4.2-5)
57. 315 days - Oz (5-6)
58. 315 days - The L Word (1-2)
59. 315 days - Who Wants to Marry My Dad? (1-2)
60. 308 days - Arli$$ (6-7)
61. 308 days - Drawn Together (1-2)
62. 308 days - Last Comic Standing (1-2)
63. 308 days - Queer as Folk (4-5)
64. 307 days - Crossing Jordan (2-3)
65. 306 days - Nashville Star (1-2)
66. 304 days - Nashville Star (2-3)
67. 303 days - Dead Like Me (1-2)
68. 301 days - Jeremiah (2.1-2.2)
69. 301 days - Queer as Folk (3-4)
70. 301 days - The 4,400 (1-2)
71. 299 days - Witchblade (1-2)
72. 297 days - Jack & Jill (1-2)
73. 294 days - Curb Your Enthusiasm (2-3)
74. 294 days - Step by Step (5-6)
75. 294 days - The Dead Zone (2.2-3)
76. 294 days - The Dead Zone (3-4)
77. 294 days - The Mind of the Married Man (1-2)
78. 293 days - Big Brother (2-3)
79. 292 days - Arli$$ (2-3)
80. 289 days - Lexx (2-3)
81. 287 days - Arli$$ (4-5)
82. 287 days - Chappelle's Show (1-2)
83. 287 days - Sex and the City (1-2)
84. 287 days - Sex and the City (5-6.1)
85. 287 days - The Sopranos (1-2)
86. 286 days - Big Brother (3-4)
87. 286 days - Big Brother (4-5)
88. 281 days - Big Brother (1-2)
89. 281 days - Pepsi Smash (1-2)
90. 281 days - The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (3-4)
91. 280 days - Arli$$ (3-4)
92. 280 days - Arli$$ (5-6)
93. 280 days - Curb Your Enthusiasm (1-2)
94. 280 days - Family Business (1-2)
95. 280 days - The Drew Carey Show (8.2-9)
96. 279 days - Spy TV (1-2)
97. 276 days - Oliver Beene (1-2)
98. 274 days - Dog Eat Dog (1-2)
99. 274 days - One Bad Trip (1-2)
100. 273 days - Crime & Punishment (1-2.1)
101. 273 days - For Love or Money (2-3)
102. 273 days - Nero Wolfe (1-2)
103. 273 days - Six Feet Under (2-3)
104. 273 days - The Job (1-2)
105. 273 days - The Shield (3-4)
106. 271 days - Wildboyz (2-3)
107. 268 days - Yes, Dear (4-5)
108. 267 days - Six Feet Under (4-5)
109. 266 days - Deadwood (1-2)
110. 266 days - Entourage (1-2)
111. 266 days - Punk'd (3-4)
112. 266 days - Road Rules (12-13)
113. 266 days - The Wire (1-2)
114. 265 days - Reno 911 (2-3)
115. 264 days - Road Rules (1-2)
116. 262 days - Renovate My Family (1.1-1.2)
117. 261 days - Mission Hill (1.1-1.2)
118. 260 days - Zoe� (1-2)
119. 259 days - Queer as Folk (2-3)
120. 259 days - Road Rules (9-10)
121. 259 days - Soul Food (4-5)
122. 258 days - My Big Fat Obnoxious� (1-2)
123. 258 days - The Osbournes (3-4)
124. 258 days - The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (4-5)
125. 252 days - Road Rules (8-9)
126. 252 days - Temptation Island (1-2)
127. 251 days - Rescue Me (1-2)
128. 246 days - Star Search (3-4)
129. 245 days - For Your Love (4-5)
130. 245 days - Monk (1-2.1)
131. 245 days - Nip/Tuck (1-2)
132. 245 days - Sex and the City (2-3)
133. 244 days - Arli$$ (1-2)
134. 243 days - American Idol (2-3)
135. 243 days - Significant Others (1-2)
136. 239 days - The Restaurant (1-2)
137. 238 days - Joe Millionaire (1-2)
138. 238 days - The Biggest Loser (1-2)
139. 238 days - The Real World (4-5)
140. 238 days - The Real World (9-10)
141. 237 days - American Idol (3-4)
142. 236 days - The Real World (3-4)
143. 235 days - Penn & Teller: Bullshit (2.2-3)
144. 235 days - The Mole (2.1-2.2)
145. 234 days - Street Time (1.1-1.2)
146. 233 days - Reno 911 (1-2)
147. 232 days - Resurrection Blvd. (2-3)
148. 231 days - Movie Stars (1-2)
149. 231 days - NYPD Blue (6-7)
150. 231 days - NYPD Blue (7-8)
151. 231 days - Rude Awakening (1-2)
152. 231 days - Sex and the City (3-4.1)
153. 231 days - The Joe Schmo Show (1-2)
154. 230 days - Wild Card (2.1-2.2)
155. 229 days - 24 (3-4)
156. 227 days - Alias (3-4)
157. 226 days - JAG (1-2)
158. 224 days - Farscape (3.1-3.2)
159. 224 days - Ghost Hunters (1-2)
160. 224 days - Road Rules (10-11)
161. 224 days - Road Rules (11-12)
162. 224 days - Soul Food (3-4)
163. 224 days - The Real World (2-3)
164. 224 days - The Real World (7-8)
165. 223 days - Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County (1-2)
166. 223 days - The Real World (5-6)
167. 222 days - Andy Richter Controls the Universe (1-2)
168. 217 days - Making the Band (1-2)
169. 217 days - The Real World (8-9)
170. 217 days - The Real World/Road Rules Challenge (5-6)
171. 217 days - The Shield (1-2)
172. 212 days - The Mole (1-2.1)
173. 210 days - Daria (1-2)
174. 210 days - Futurama (3-4)
175. 210 days - Poltergeist: The Legacy (3-4)
176. 203 days - Futurama (4-5)
177. 203 days - The Osbournes (1-2.1)
178. 202 days - Norm (2-3)
179. 201 days - Daria (4-5)
180. 200 days - The Bernie Mac Show (2-3)
181. 198 days - Daria (2-3)
182. 196 days - Party of Five (1-2)
183. 196 days - Queer as Folk (1-2)
184. 196 days - Six Feet Under (1-2)
185. 196 days - The Surreal Life (2-3)
186. 195 days - Summerland (1-2)
187. 194 days - The Outer Limits (6-7)
188. 191 days - Daria (3-4)
189. 189 days - 100 Centre Street (1-2)
190. 189 days - High School Reunion (2-3)
191. 188 days - Family Plots (1-2)
192. 188 days - The Real World (6-7)
193. 186 days - State of Grace (1-2)
194. 185 days - Life With Bonnie (1-2)
195. 185 days - Primetime Glick (1-2)
196. 183 days - America's Next Top Model (2-3)
197. 183 days - Once & Again (1-2)
198. 183 days - The O.C. (1-2)
199. 182 days - America's Next Top Model (1-2)
200. 182 days - King of the Hill (5-6)
201. 182 days - Son of the Beach (1.2-2)
202. 182 days - South Park (4.2-5.1)
203. 182 days - South Park (8.1-8.2)
204. 182 days - South Park (9.1-9.2)
205. 182 days - Strangers With Candy (1-2)
206. 182 days - The Man Show (5-6)
207. 182 days - The Outer Limits (3-4)
208. 181 days - Popstars (1-2)
209. 181 days - Stargate SG-1 (5.1-5.2)
210. 180 days - Making the Band (2-3)
211. 180 days - The Wayne Brady Show (1-2)
212. 176 days - Titus (2-3)
213. 175 days - American Dreams (2-3)
214. 175 days - Jesse (1-2)
215. 175 days - King of the Hill (6-7)
216. 175 days - Malcolm in the Middle (2-3)
217. 175 days - Malcolm in the Middle (3-4)
218. 175 days - Profiler (1-2)
219. 175 days - South Park (7.1-7.2)
220. 175 days - The Ashlee Simpson Show (1-2)
221. 175 days - The Simple Life (2-3)
222. 175 days - The X-Files (5-6)
223. 175 days - The X-Files (6-7)
224. 175 days - The X-Files (8-9)
225. 174 days - Punk'd (1-2)
226. 174 days - The Man Show (1-2)
227. 171 days - Becker (5-6)
228. 171 days - Steve Harvey's Big Time (1-2)
229. 170 days - Celebrity Poker Showdown (5-6)
230. 170 days - Dream Job (1-2)
231. 170 days - Poltergeist: The Legacy (1-2)
232. 170 days - The Simpsons (12-13)
233. 169 days - The Chris Isaak Show (1-2.1)
234. 169 days - The Real Gilligan's Island (1-2)
235. 169 days - Wild Card (1-2.1)
236. 168 days - Everybody Loves Raymond (1-2)
237. 168 days - Futurama (2-3)
238. 168 days - George Lopez (1-2)
239. 168 days - King of the Hill (7-8)
240. 168 days - King of the Hill (8-9)
241. 168 days - Malcolm in the Middle (1-2)
242. 168 days - Malcolm in the Middle (4-5)
243. 168 days - Malcolm in the Middle (5-6)
244. 168 days - MISSING (1-2.1)
245. 168 days - NYPD Blue (8-9)
246. 168 days - Party of Five (3-4)
247. 168 days - Scrubs (2-3)
248. 168 days - That '70s Show (5-6)
249. 168 days - The Osbournes (2.2-3)
250. 168 days - The Outer Limits (2-3)
251. 168 days - The Pretender (1-2)
252. 168 days - The Simpsons (14-15)
253. 168 days - The Simpsons (15-16)
254. 168 days - The X-Files (4-5)
255. 168 days - The X-Files (7-8)

(*) Notes: "Tough Enough's" fourth season actually aired as part of "WWE Smackdown" this past season. The dates for "Nip/Tuck," "The Sopranos" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" assume that the series will return on September 20, March 5 and September 4 respectively during the coming 2005-06 season. The date for "Chappelle's Show's" gap between seasons two and three is based on its previously indicated May 31 return.





  [june 2005]  
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