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Ninety Minutes of Tedium

by Neena Louise

I am getting increasingly annoyed with the "90-minute special" episodes of many series. There's been a run of these "expanded" versions lately, and I fail to see the point. Most of these shows can barely stretch themselves to fill an hour, let alone and hour and a half.

This can be witnessed by the increasingly excruciating "music video" interludes in most shows today. So many shows (especially dramas) have the same thing: Melancholy music plays while the principal character moons sadly out a window, or at a picture, or while reading a letter, or while dying, etc. (Crossing Jordan is the biggest offender and Jill Hennessy's singing in one episode was especially painful). These musical interludes are totally unnecessary and add nothing to the story, and I suspect they are added simply to stretch the episode to fill an hour. So what do the networks do? They stretch the episode to ninety minutes! Oh, that makes sense.

Then there's all the reality fare that has "special" 90-minute episodes that the networks tout as something spectacular (puh-leeze). It's hard enough to sit through an hour of backstabbing, cat-fighting and hot-tub antics, let alone an hour and half. I, for one, tape any reality show I can't help following [blush], and I must say there's a lot of fast-forwarding when I get around to watching the tape. With other reality fare, I simply watch the last 5 minutes, which is all one needs to see anyway.

It would be one thing if these "special" episodes were just that: special. But they're not. They're generally quite ordinary (some are deadly dull) and seem to have even more commercials and idiotic musical moments than their one-hour versions. I fail to see the reasoning behind these expanded versions, other than a shameless ratings grab. However, I don't see what ratings the networks are trying to grab, since lengthening a one-hour show to ninety minutes wreaks havoc with the schedule. It's hard enough finding the show you want to watch when the networks move them around so much (often at the last minute); it's even harder when they've been moved, lengthened, and have ousted the shows that used to precede them. I would think this would be detrimental, not beneficial, when it comes to ratings.

Many of today's series could be pared down to thirty minutes without losing anything. I, therefore, utterly fail to understand what expanding them to ninety minutes is supposed to accomplish. I've come to avoid these ninety-minute "special" episodes. They're not special in the least and I refuse to stop watching whatever series they overlap just to tune in to ninety minutes of tedium. 
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