The Burn Notice summer finale is upon us and the split seasons don’t bother me
To borrow from the Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) line relived in the introduction to every episode of Burn Notice: You know TV bloggers, bunch of bitchy little girls.
It’s money in the bank that by this time next week after Burn Notice’s “summer/mid-season finale” has aired, there will be more complaining about USA Network breaking up Burn Notice into separate mini seasons. USA Network isn’t alone in a practice that is fairly common on cable networks. But it’s something that really annoys some people. But it doesn’t bother me.
Bottom line, as long as you’re a fan of Burn Notice, you’re not going anywhere.
Sure, if Burn Notice was running on a broadcast network, it wouldn’t get broken up like that. But, if Burn Notice had wound up on FOX ( Burn Notice is produced by Fox) or USA Network’s broadcast sibling, NBC, for all we know it might have been canceled after four episodes.
Another thing you might read from the same people who won’t be happy over the split season is how the broadcast networks would KILL for numbers like Burn Notice’s. It’s total BS. The broadcast networks wouldn’t kill for Burn Notice’s numbers – they likely wouldn’t even maim for Burn Notice’s numbers. Not even in the summer when in its record-pulling heyday pulls fewer adults 18-49 than a new episode of Chuck. Some of us very well remember all the hand wringing over whether Chuck would be renewed or canceled with those numbers!
I’m glad Burn Notice is on cable. USA can show a gazillion episodes a week and attract new viewers. USA just ran another Burn Notice marathon yesterday. Plus, there’s far less immediate ratings pressure on a cable network where the luxury of actually being patient with shows still exists! Between the multiple airings of episodes and the extra patience, it seems to be working out well for USA Network.
In the summer of 2007, Burn Notice premiered to 4 million viewers. The first airing of the season one finale averaged 4.8 million. Season two opened with 5.3 million and closed with 6.1 million. And season 3 opened with 6 million, and then bounced around and bounced back to consecutive airings with 6.7 and 6.8 million (last Thursday night’s episode likely dropped a little, we’ll know for sure by Tuesday). An upward ratings trend that took a while to play out. Meanwhile, a scripted drama on a broadcast network that bows to less than 5 million viewers is likely only a couple of airings away from being banished to Saturday nights or summer burn-off theater.
I say when it comes to Burn Notice, leave USA Network alone! The people at USA seem to know what they are doing, and Burn Notice has already been renewed for season four. After this Thursday’s summer finale, we’ll have eight more episodes of season 3 plus sixteen more episodes of season four. That’s twenty-four new episodes over that will air over the next 18 months or so.
One argument used against the split schedule is that it kills ratings momentum. At least with Burn Notice, the data doesn’t bear that out. The first season aired consecutively and was off the air 10 months before the season two premiere which set series records at the time. They split season two up and the second half premiered in late January to good, though not quite record numbers, but it was also up against Thursday night regular season broadcast competition rather than summer fare. The season two finale in March, also against regular season broadcast competition set records. The season three premiere a few months later was just behind that record, and it set new and consecutive records with the July 16 and July 23 airings.
I understand about wanting to watch things more sequentially, but figure that if I don’t want to wait between episodes, I can just wait for the season or even the series to finish and then get the DVDs and watch everything back-to-back. I’ve watched a lot of stuff that way, from the first few seasons of Lost and Supernatural to the whole series of shows like The Wire and The Shield. It’s definitely a great way to watch. But as long as the cable networks air things in ways that yield more episodes of shows, I don’t find the scheduling maddening.