Alright, alright, alright! The Atlantic picked up my Quartz story about the renaissance of the (don’t-call-it-a) miniseries.
After a dormant period, the miniseries genre is having a renaissance. Just don’t call them that, as I wrote at Quartz.
But nobody calls these shows “miniseries,” anymore. Instead, the networks have embraced terms like “limited series” and “event series” to describe programs with a predetermined end or cast that changes from season to season.
So what’s the difference? Not even the people running the networks can answer that one. “I don’t know,” NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt admitted to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in January.
“It’s a genre that has kind of gone out of our sort of vocabulary for a long time because we stopped doing them,” said Greenblatt. “I think we use the word miniseries when something is closed-ended and can’t continue.…I don’t know what a limited series is.”
CBS Entertainment chair Nina Tassler also spoke with me at TCA about why the m-word has become so verboten, and I help clear up the confusion between miniseries, limited series, event series and anthology series.
Four years after the clock ran out on 24, Jack Bauer is back. Fox has relaunched the franchise with a 12-episode “event series” called 24: Live Another Day. I only wish the show was closer to the show’s exhilarating early seasons rather than the formulaic later ones. As I wrote in my Daily Beast review,
Aside from the thrill of seeing Jack—and Sutherland—back on the clock, barking orders and unleashing new methods of ass-kicking (for his next trick, he’ll do it with the hands cuffed behind his back!), 24’s absence hasn’t made me grow fonder of its tropes. This time around, many of them—Jack being underestimated by everyone around him, his first anguished utterance of “Dammit!,” the first of what will be many double-crosses—seemed more dutiful than inspired. The later seasons of 24 indicated that all the format’s tricks had been exhausted, and so far, Live Another Day’s writers haven’t indicated that they’ve discovered any new ones.
“Damnit, Chloe, I need more innovation!”