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Almost Everything Is Too Long (this isn't a new show)

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Old man shouts at cloud.jpg.

 

Depends on the tale being told Imo. Whatever length allows the story and characters to grow and develop. 

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But that's my point - I don't think the Wire was too long, or the Sopranos, or Mad Men - those stories and how they were told merited their run time.

 

My point is that too much stuff that doesn't merit it gets dragged out and is worse for it, and what are the drivers behind this ?

 

Netflix has no traditional schedule to fill or constraints like that, all their Marvel stuff (for example, its not just this) I saw would have been far punchier with 4 less episodes, so why do they drag it out to traditional season lengths when there is no apparent need to do so ?

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I thought Homecoming's short episodes were irritating.   Plenty of stuff is too long - in particular series with too many episode for the material (Netflix Marvel shows) but if the material is there I don't have a problem.

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I think blockbuster movies are already way too ADHD, I don't really want all TV to be like that too, it's exhausting.

 

There's nothing wrong with slowing down, letting things breathe and decompress.

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I don’t mind film runtimes being long (although 90 mins is obviously the best). But so many series on Netflix are a fucking hour an ep. This Tidying Up with Mario Kondo show is a good example, it sounds interesting and everyone is talking about it but the episodes are so long and stretched out. I don’t mind dramas being that long but not a reality show, that is a 30 min show max.

 

 It just means I end up watching a sitcom while shoving my dinner in my mouth as they’re normally 20 mins. 

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When a company launches a brand, sometimes as much money is needed to establish the brand as deliver the content. Hence remakes, licensing over new IP, and farcical stuff like Smallville, Teen Wolf and Riverdale ending up on Netflix.

 

Ultimately they just want to provide content and keep subscribers, most viewers are completely undemanding (missus watches Netflix while doing other things, it's just background noise), so money's invested better by padding the content


I don't bother with any of it, so I empathise, but I think the economics are fairly basic and understandable given what people will put up with

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To be honest the length of an individual tv episode or film has never really bothered me that much at all. I'm someone who last year watched all 3 LOTR extended editions one night after another and a couple of months ago put Schidelers List on randomly. Its the length of a series as a whole that feels the problem. I think 8-12 episodes per series (depending on the show) is more than enoough for 40-60min shows. But American network shows all seem to run 20-24 episodes per series and it's too much. There's so much shit inbetween the good stuff. Even 20-30min sitcoms run for stupidly long series, whereas they'd benefit from being 15 max.

 

Take for example Greys Anatomy. It's fare form the the greatest show but it's enetertaining and can suck you in. However after several years of watching I just gave up around season 12 (it's now in season 15). My wife carried on watching, but I got sick of watching 24, 40min long episodes with so much filler. The straw that broke the camels back was when they had an amazing episode with a huge cliffhanger and then the following weeks wasn't anything to do with that or any of the other story lines going on either. It was just random filler, that didn't belong there and was a terrible episode to boot. This happens way too much with shows.

 

I'm struggling like hell to get into TV at the moment for this reason, everything feels like a chore. Maybe it's just a case of being spoilt for choice these days.

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1 hour ago, Isaac said:

 

What?! Blockbuster movies are some of the worst culprits of this - most are over two hours long now!

 

Bring back 90-minute action films.

 

I think it's a bit of a myth that the average film used to be 90 minutes long, and they've since ballooned to 120 - 150 mins long. The average length has been around two hours since the 1960s. There's been a bit of fluctuation during that time, and it has gone up a bit recently, but it's only really increased from about 110 minutes in the mid eighties to just over 120 in the 2010s.

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I think the op is right. A good story that needs the time to develop plots and characters is great but there appear to be many films that could do with some pretty severe editing to stop them spiralling into an overlong bore.

 

I saw Widows on release and while the performances were good the whole thing just dragged on and on. When the director started to fill us in on the back story of an incident that needed no explanation, where the audience were already aware of it's existence and the strains it had put on relationships, I lost the will to watch any more and decided to call it a night. It's the first film I've walked out of in a long time.

 

Filmmakers need to remember that not everything has to be explained and much can be left to the imagination of the audience. This would go a long way to trimming the fat off some of these bloated scripts.

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This is one of my main gripes. TV has fallen foul of network demands rather than artistic integrity. Many shows would benefit from less bloat and punchier storyline. 

 

As far as cinema goes the economy of storytelling has been lost for sure. So many films lasting around 2 and a half hours that need not be over 90 mins. Superhero films seem to be really bad for this. I don't mind if it's actually required for the story but most of the character development/plots are could be written in a beer mat. 

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9 minutes ago, jonnyalpha said:

I think the op is right. A good story that needs the time to develop plots and characters is great but there appear to be many films that could do with some pretty severe editing to stop them spiralling into an overlong bore.

 

I saw Widows on release and while the performances were good the whole thing just dragged on and on. When the director started to fill us in on the back story of an incident that needed no explanation, where the audience were already aware of it's existence and the strains it had put on relationships, I lost the will to watch any more and decided to call it a night. It's the first film I've walked out of in a long time.

 

Filmmakers need to remember that not everything has to be explained and much can be left to the imagination of the audience. This would go a long way to trimming the fat off some of these bloated scripts.

I think that's a great example. It's everything a heist movie shouldn't be.

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A lot of reviews of films by non-critic people on here, twitter, letterboxd, etc ... their reviews very often mention "was 20 minutes too long" or "could have trimmed this bit"

I'm not sure that's films have gotten too long, as people's lives have gotten busier and we notice it more?

 

My biggest gripe with Netflix shows is more that the length of the episode is variable rather than too long. I tend to watch something before I go to work on a morning, so I have about an hour to myself to fit in a shower, making some breakfast, watching something, brush my teeth, go out. Towards the end of that time I'm checking my watching thinking "why isn't this wrapping up" and find unlike every other episode this one still has 10 mins to go and I'm going to have to stop it right before the end. 

 

And it's all filler. I find shows set to a certain runtime tend to be a bit tighter and better paced because they've got to hit marks to get it done in time. Without that, the show can feel structureless. The Marvel shows are a good example of that. They're really bad for having people waffling on and on in long conversations to give it a bit more class than being superheroes punching people. But I feel no progression in these scenes where you feel like things are going to come to ahead. It's more like a stall until the next bit. 

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20 minutes ago, AK Bell said:

The Marvel shows are a good example of that. They're really bad for having people waffling on and on in long conversations to give it a bit more class than being superheroes punching people. But I feel no progression in these scenes where you feel like things are going to come to ahead. It's more like a stall until the next bit. 

Not all of them, surely? I thought Daredevil got the balance perfectly. Admittedly I couldn't stick with the others.

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1 hour ago, jonnyalpha said:

I saw Widows on release and while the performances were good the whole thing just dragged on and on. When the director started to fill us in on the back story of an incident that needed no explanation, where the audience were already aware of it's existence and the strains it had put on relationships, I lost the will to watch any more and decided to call it a night. It's the first film I've walked out of in a long time.

 

 

In 'Bad Times At The El Royale' every character had to be given a backstory with flashbacks every few minutes - they amazingly put a flashback in the middle of the climax of the film. I thought there was a decent film somewhere in there but it was way over 2 hours long and by the end I was bored of the whole thing.

 

I get that the writer/director probably found all his characters fascinating but it just felt pointless and really dragged the energy out of the film. 

 

TV shows are the worst for this bloat though. Things like 'You' or Sabrina' on Netflix didn't need to be the length they were - they really dragged the arse out of them.

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This is a problem, far too many things I've watched recently far outstay their welcome. I guess a combination of the economy of shoots (may as well stretch them out and get your monies worth) and streaming.

 

For instance, I quite enjoyed the first episode of Trust on iPlayer (Danny Boyle etc.) but I just can't be arsed watching another 9 episodes when the story was done so well in All the Money in the World.

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Netflix seem to have got a little bit better at this, at first all their shows seemed to be 13 episodes, leading to a lot of flab in stuff that's otherwise good like Daredevil season 1. It's still a problem.

 

The problem is more that there's just too much stuff to consume now, if something is dragging it has to justify itself.

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3 hours ago, Sarlaccfood said:

I don’t mind film runtimes being long (although 90 mins is obviously the best). But so many series on Netflix are a fucking hour an ep. This Tidying Up with Mario Kondo show is a good example, it sounds interesting and everyone is talking about it but the episodes are so long and stretched out. I don’t mind dramas being that long but not a reality show, that is a 30 min show max.

 

 It just means I end up watching a sitcom while shoving my dinner in my mouth as they’re normally 20 mins. 

 

The Staircase on Netflix is a good example.  Really good series but it really did feel that it was being artificially stretched.  I reckon you could have told the same store in half or 2/3rds of the time. 

 

3 hours ago, linkster said:

When a company launches a brand, sometimes as much money is needed to establish the brand as deliver the content. Hence remakes, licensing over new IP, and farcical stuff like Smallville, Teen Wolf and Riverdale ending up on Netflix.

 

Ultimately they just want to provide content and keep subscribers, most viewers are completely undemanding (missus watches Netflix while doing other things, it's just background noise), so money's invested better by padding the content


I don't bother with any of it, so I empathise, but I think the economics are fairly basic and understandable given what people will put up with

 

I get the Networks problem.  They pay the bills by advertising and once you have the cast and sets, then actually filming episodes is the cheaper part of the equation.  The more episodes you can churn out, the more the standing costs can be immortalised over those greater number of episodes leading to bigger profit from the advertising (it's not actually this simple since often episodes are produced by Studios and sold to Networks who then get the advertising but the basic principle of more episodes equal greater profit still applies). 

 

Netflix, however, doesn't have this problem so specifically.  Yeah, it still probably can't make the economics work to build an entirely new set and hire an entirely new cast for a single episode of something but equally since it doesn't get money per episode watched there is no real reason to bulk out seasons apart from to make it seem like the service has a lot of content.  But for people like me, I'd prefer a streamlined 6 or 8 episode season (think Killing Eve) to a 10 or 13 episode season which seems to too little story to really justify the entire running time. The recent need to have season long storylines has not helped since most shows cannot sustain a arc over 13 episodes, let alone 22 episodes on Network (look at the contortions shows like the Flash have to go through in order to justify keeping the big bad around all season until the finale showdown in the finale episode). Agents of Shield solved this by introducing mini seasons within a season and it really helped by not having to have an overriding story-line throughout the entire season. 

 

I also think some TV writing has got a bit lazy.  Look at old episodic shows, Star Trek TNG for instance.  These sometimes do have the dreaded reset button at the end of the episode but in 42 minutes they have to establish, tell and conclude a story and introduce any necessary characters. The time constraints placed on the writers made sure they told a complete story in 42 minutes.  Becuase Netflix relies on binging, you do not get the requirement to conclude a story in the same episode.  This is definitely good in some ways but definitely makes the individual episodes weaker on their own since they are seldom required to work on their own as a broadly comprehensive hour of entertainment with a clear beginning and end. They just blend into each other until you've watched 13 episodes and often have the thought that you have just been told one story, which took too long to tell and wasn't that good a story to begin with. You take 13 episodes of TNG, some might be crap but each would have an identity and try to do something different each time and tell 13 different stories. 

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I think the problem with examples like the Marvel Netflix shows is that they're boring, they'd be boring if they were 10 episodes, or boring if they were 20. If something isn't keeping your interest then there are bigger problems there.

 

I think length and quality aren't related in a manner where you can pull on one and increase the other, I'd happily take a 5-hour Villeneuve remake of a film if I found the source material interesting, but I'm not going to shit through some shit just because "it's only 90 minutes!"

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@McCoy OK so why DO you think they pad shows out? I'd have to speculate entirely about their business model, in terms of the content they're able to acquire and how they do it, it might  be down to going to a content provider and expressing the number of hours spent watching the service (since ad revenue non existent) to prove that subscribers are active in order to win rights, as well as the money they're willing to spend to license

 

Ultimately, they won't be doing it to make shows worse. There has to be some financial basis.

 

Having said that, I think Netflix has an abysmal track record at producing its own shows, especially movies, so perhaps it's just got the wrong people, pissing money away, and in time Disney and Comcast will kill them

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I think some of the streaming service (and the higher aiming tv channels) problem is driven by the cult of the show runner - whereby you lure somebody to your service with the promise of full artistic and editorial control.

 

In some peoples hands that produced the best quality shows ever, but its quite easy in some cases for that to turn into excessive bloat and endless backstory or side quests.

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17 minutes ago, linkster said:

@McCoy OK so why DO you think they pad shows out? I'd have to speculate entirely about their business model, in terms of the content they're able to acquire and how they do it, it might  be down to going to a content provider and expressing the number of hours spent watching the service (since ad revenue non existent) to prove that subscribers are active in order to win rights, as well as the money they're willing to spend to license

 

Ultimately, they won't be doing it to make shows worse. There has to be some financial basis.

 

Having said that, I think Netflix has an abysmal track record at producing its own shows, especially movies, so perhaps it's just got the wrong people, pissing money away, and in time Disney and Comcast will kill them

 

 

Good question.  Netflix is quite secretive when it comes to what it values regarding specific content. 

 

A couple of thoughts though.  Obviously Netflix wants to keep people watching and they don't want people to unsubscribe.  It takes a person longer to consume 13 episodes than 6, and for most people we're talking days/weeks longer, not just an additional 7 straight hours of viewing. So longer seasons perhaps equates to people remaining subscribers for longer.  Once you've watched 7 episodes of a Netflix show you'll probably want to see how it ends and thus the subscription is kept.

 

That's why Netflix might want more episodes.  As for why some might think those episodes are padded out, could it be that Netflix budget for each show is not as big as it should be?  Filming two people talking slowly in an standing set is much cheaper than location shooting or action sequences.  If, as a showrunner, you have to produce 13 episodes with a limited budget then whilst you may have lots of great ideas, if you don't have the money you have to slow down the story and action scenes and include cheaper, perhaps filler, material to ensure that the action you can afford is supplemented by enough affordable footage to make an episode.

 

Now, filler/bottle episodes are not a problem.  Sometimes they are the best episodes of a show.  The problem could be when you are a narrative heavy Netflix serialised show, it is perhaps harder to come up with a cheap bottle episode which fits into the main thrust of that season's storyline.  TNG can take an episode out and just film on standing sets with no guest cast and to most people that is just a episode.  But TNG wasn't trying to run a main storyline over the season and thus their bottle episodes weren't bringing to a standstill the storyline that viewers were invested in.  If you Netflix and you want people to be addicted to a boxset, giving them a episode unconnected to the storyline they are following might be a catylist for them giving up on the season.  Thus you have to include cheaper elements but try to make them part of the story.  Hence lots of scenes of two people talking to each other about the story in standing sets.

 

But it is almost certainly much more complicated than the above.  Possibly it is just down to poor showrunners and writers.  There is so much more competition for writers and showrunners that it might be naive to think that only the best of the best reach these positions these days. 

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34 minutes ago, RubberJohnny said:

I think the problem with examples like the Marvel Netflix shows is that they're boring, they'd be boring if they were 10 episodes, or boring if they were 20. If something isn't keeping your interest then there are bigger problems there.

 

 

Perhaps, but I think some of the Netflix Marvel stuff has the potential to be great if it was the same story told in half the time.  The problem is, you'd probably be cutting a lot of the cheaper stuff to film.  Hence you produce half as much content but you budget is not cut in half accordingly. Thereby each episode ends up costing more on average. 

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Funnily enough I was just thinking about this today with the Punisher show. To my surprise I am enjoying it, but it's so padded out I don't think I can face the rest of it.

 

and don't get me started on longer episodes of TV shows. I think the reason I don't really love modern Who is because the episodes are just too long and again feel padded out compared to classic Who

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Creed 2 tells the same story as Rocky 4, but somehow manages to take 40 minutes longer to do so. Which wouldn't be a problem if that extra 40 minutes didn't feel like 80

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I just watched Assault on Precinct 13 again. Now there is a lesson in how to make the leanest, most deliciously moreish 90 minutes of your life.

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A lot of the reason LA Takedown is wildly superior to Heat is that it’s half the length - and it doesn’t have Al Pacino stinking it right up too, of course.

 

But people generally applaud the bum-numbing latter, because it has a couple of decent scenes in it and a tasty shootout.

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