Exploring The Limited Event TV Series

Watching TV
It’s become a successful TV trend in recent years: the limited event series, in which a television show exists for a set number of episodes, generally somewhere in the 8-13 range, but this number is open to fluctuation.

Broadcast network FOX has demonstrated particular interest in this format, with a 6-episode run of “The X-Files” earlier this year. Next year, a new season of “Prison Break” will air, which is rumored to have 9-10 episodes.

Cable networks and OTT services have been pursuing this darker type of show as well, and it was reported last week that the highest paid actor in the world, Robert Downey Jr., was allegedly considering the “prestige of TV” and working on an HBO limited series.

“Good television has become more interesting than good filmmaking. In general, movies are repeating themselves — a lot of superheroes and a lot of visual effects — and you don’t get a lot of interestingly-structured dramas,” said Jose Padilha, showrunner on Netflix’s “Narcos.”

Writer freedom seems to be a benefit for this programming.

“If you’re coming in to write specific episodes in a big series,” said David Farr, writer for AMC’s “The Night Manager,” which wrapped up in May, “there’s a tendency for a writer to push it, hard, because you want to show what you can do.”

"The Night Manager" features British actor Tom Hiddleston attempting to embed into the crew of an arms dealer.

HBO has been airing “The Night Of” this summer, an 8-episode show revolving around a murder mystery in New York.

In an interview with Broadway World, showrunner Steve Zaillian expressed why he chose this type of TV series.

“Historically, the kinds of stories I'm interested in have been made as films. Now, it's TV. But since I'd had no experience in TV, I could only approach it as a film,” explained Zaillian. “HBO allowed me to make this like a film is made, to cast who I wanted to cast - many are feature actors - and to hire primarily feature film department heads … With a nine-hour film, there's a lot to keep in your head. I thought of nothing else every day for about four years.”

Seemingly, the ability to expand upon the traditional film by enhancing it with additional hours provides the allure for producing a limited series.

The 95-minute series finale for “The Night Of” will appear on HBO this Sunday, August 28, at 9 p.m. EST.

Author: Brian Cameron

Image via Shutterstock.


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