No, Don Draper won’t be cooking meth for the final season (growing pot, maybe?)….but, the upcoming season of Mad Men will be taking a cue from its AMC brethren.
Show-runner Matthew Weiner has announced that the last season of the critically-acclaimed cable drama will air in two separate batches of seven episodes– the first to run in the Spring of 2014, and the second in Spring 2015.
Sound familiar? It should. Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, also AMC shows, have employed similar strategies, with the former dividing its fifth and final season into two parts as well. And AMC isn’t the only cable network to keep fans waiting. USA original programming, including the now-concluded Burn Notice, Suits, and Psych, among others, have typically divided a single season into Summer/Winter or Fall/Spring groupings. TNT has done the same. Hell, even Comedy Central, a network known for not keeping shows around for longer than a season, has gone the divided season route with its ever-popular Tosh.0.
And the results speak for themselves. Breaking Bad has had immense popularity with viewers in its second half of season 5. Suits is one of the highest rated shows on cable TV, an accomplishment Burn Notice has held in the past. Splitting seasons into two parts may just be the newest trend in television; keep the fans wanting more, while providing alternate programming in between to get them hooked on other shows the network runs. But, that’s not even the major draw for networks and advertisers.
Think about it: if a show with a continuous story-line runs a few episodes then takes an extended break, what are many fans going to do before the next batch of episodes run? Oh, yeah– they’ll re-watch them, to refresh their memory. I know I did that with Breaking Bad. Therefore, hardcore fans are being served at least 2x the number of ads, doubling the networks’ potential revenue. Not bad….
Personally, I don’t have any problem with the idea; but, in the case of the curtain call for Mad Men, I do have an issue with the time gap. One whole year is a very long time to wait in between blocks of episodes. I can deal with Summer/Winter airings, for instance; but, this is a little bit too much. Then again, they know I’ll be watching– and, you will too –so, in the end, the network doesn’t lose out, and gets to keep the show on a bit longer; giving them ample time to beef up the replacement programming. Makes sense to me…