It seems like we haven't seen many major TV miniseries on network TV in recent years. Almost every recent, successful miniseries I know about, such as Into the West
and Band of Brothers
, has been on cable. Have the networks given up on the miniseries as a programming option, or will we see one or two in the coming months?Answer:
With few exceptions, network miniseries have shrunk to two-night "events," although ABC has started production on a six-hour docudrama miniseries based on the 9/11 Commission reports to air sometime in the next year. For the moment, the cable networks that are in the business of building brand awareness are about the only ones willing to devote the time and marketing muscle to multipart miniseries of any true scope. Although in this space we've also frequently discussed the trend of networks airing "limited series" over six or so weeks (like NBC's Kingpin
) that in a different era might have been aired over a single week as a miniseries — and in these particular cases, might have fared better if they had been. But for now, it's pretty much a lost art.
[Editor's Note: If you're new to Ask Matt's twice-a-week format and missed Friday's column, you'll find it here.]