My Love/Hate Relationship with the TV Hiatus

Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, Grimm, Royal Pains, Burn Notice, Supernatural

When a TV show I like goes on hiatus, I usually have ambivalent feelings. I’m not sure if this makes me different than other fans, or if perhaps this is more common than I think.

When a show goes on hiatus, it can be agonizing. I even wrote an article back in December 2011 about how to survive such an event for your favorite shows, 5 Survival Strategies for your Favorite Show’s Hiatus. However, being the wishy-washy type, I have realized that my feelings on these events are mixed. In fact, I have reasons to both love and hate a hiatus.

By way of full disclosure, I am from the generation that grew up with only three major networks, so my early experiences of TV were the normal seasons premiering in September, and ending in May or so, and then a summer of reruns. There were no cable channels, and only a handful of “UHF” channels, with snowy reception. It was a very different experience from today, and this likely shades my opinions.

1) A Breather

Bo and Dyson - Lost Girl, Danny and Steve - Hawaii Five-0, Beckett and Castle - Castle

There are so many channels and so much programming running 24/7 today, that if all the TV programs I like to watch were all on at the same time, it would be hopeless. As it is, I have at least two nights each week where there are three programs on simultaneously that I want to watch – Mondays with Hawaii Five-0, Lost Girl and Castle all on at 10 pm, and Fridays with Supernatural, Fringe and Grimm all on at 9 pm! Imagine how hard it would be if there were 4 or 5 shows all on at that same time. That would mean I could enjoy fewer shows, or drive myself nuts trying to find repeats and then becoming sleep deprived from watching them all!

2) Alternate Programming

Bo and Dyson - Lost Girl, Josh, Sally and Aidan - Being Human, Pete, Myka and Claudia - Warehouse 13, Alison, Carter and Jo - Eureka

As one show goes onto hiatus, usually there is another show I follow starting up a new season or the second half of a previous season. There is also sometimes a week or two break which gives me a little time to catch up on personal paperwork or other items I have been neglecting. FOX, SyFy, USA and TNT networks are the ones that come to mind as doing this the most often. SyFy in particular seems to have sets of shows that air together and then their timeslots are filled with other programs as they go on hiatus – for instance, on Monday they now have Being Human and Lost Girl, where Warehouse 13 and Eureka used to be (with a one hour time shift because of the more adult content).

3) Marathons

Sam, Michael and Fiona - Burn Notice, Will, Magnus and Druitt - Sanctuary

As the hiatus comes to an end, many networks show marathons or summary programs to help you catch up to what happened (very important for folks my age. LOL). This gives you an opportunity to relive the best moments of the past season. This is especially common on the SyFy and USA networks. It is so much fun watching a full day of Burn Notice or Sanctuary!

1) Too Easy to Forget

Jill, Evan, Hank and Divya - Royal Pains. Madeline, Michael, Sam and Fiona - Burn Notice

I will assume that I am not the only person that forgets over the longer hiatuses what happened when last we visited a particular TV program. If I am alone, please don’t burst my bubble. What if you do not have time to sit all day and watch the marathon, or what if there is no marathon? Yes, I will grant you that most TV shows begin now with a “Last time on.” recap, but frequently that is not enough – all it does is remind you that something significant happened, but exactly what may nag at you! In addition, maybe by the third show into the new season or half season suddenly something happens, and you start thinking – “Who is this person and why did they just do that?” This has happened to me while watching Burn Notice and Royal Pains, among others. I find this very annoying and detracting from my viewing enjoyment.

2) Viewership Decline

Dean, Sam, Castiel and Bobby - Supernatural

My personal opinion is that some TV shows do not do as well in the ratings because the viewing public loses interest. We live in a world with information overload, and are constantly being bombarded with new information of all kinds. Life has such a fast pace, I think we are all being driven to ADD. Out of sight, out of mind, and after 6 months or more, why am I supposed to care again? Some shows, and a good example is Supernatural, have devoted fan followings, and discuss the programs online during a hiatus. These programs take a smaller hit of lost viewers because of this. But not everyone has the time to devote to this activity.

3) The Old Switcheroo

Hank and Evan - Royal Pains, Peter and Olivia - Fringe

When the shows finally do return, the networks seem to invariably put them on a different night and time from when they aired previously. It then becomes a problem of tracking down your favorite shows and fitting them into your viewing schedule. This happened with Fringe, when it switched from Thursday to Friday and Royal Pains went from Thursday to Wednesday. Because hiatuses for various shows begin and end on an irregular schedule, people may miss a premiere, and that could lead to them giving up on a program they followed in the past. Perhaps we could petition for more regularity as to when hiatuses end so that there would be some regularity to when we can expect new programming.

Is anyone out there as ambivalent as I am about hiatuses? Please let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear you opinions on any aspect of this.