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.
TCA winter tour is finally winding down, but I wanted to write one last story about the various developments and announcements that I hadn’t been able to address in standalone stories. So for my final Quartz story from TCA, I noted six ways that TV is changing forever, including my observation that pilot season isn’t dead — yet:
Last week, FOX announced the death of pilot season, with Reilly explaining that “it’s highly inefficient” and “built for a different era” when CBS, ABC and NBC were the only three networks in existence. Instead, Reilly has already picked up several projects “straight to series” for next season, bypassing the usual pilot process so as not to waste resources on projects that will never make it to air.
Yet the other networks were quick to declare that while the business is indeed changing, pilot season is still very useful for them. “It’s frustrating, but also exciting,” said CBS’s Tassler, who noted that pilot season’s “compression of time”—in which pilots are cast, shot and focus-tested in a matter of weeks—gives way to “this creative adrenaline” that has delivered their biggest hits, like The Big Bang Theory. NBC’s Greenblatt noted that his network’s new hit The Blacklist “probably would never have seen the air had we not made a pilot, because it came from a relatively young, inexperienced writer. We weren’t exactly sure immediately from that script that we should order a series.”